The name – Uttarkashi literally means Kashi of the North. Uttarkashi is also known as Shivnagri and Somya Kashi. Uttarkashi is situated on the banks of the Bhagirathi river at an altitude of 4450 feet above sea level. It is primarily a religious destination but in the last 20 years, it has also become a center for mountaineering, rock climbing, and other adventure sports. It is also a trekking center and the gateway to many trekking destinations. Uttarkashi was the location of ashrams and retreats of many Rishis and Munis in the ancient days. This holy city finds mention in the Skanda Purana as a place where many saints attained the highest position. Even today there are a number of Yoga and Meditation centers in and around Uttarkashi.
The Kashi Connection
Varanasi is located on the banks of the Ganga River in Uttar Pradesh. Uttarkashi is also on the banks of the same river which is known as the Bhagirathi here. Uttarkashi is situated near a hill called Varunavat which is at the meeting point to two minor rivers – the Varuna and the Asi. Uttarkashi has a bathing ghat called Manikarnika Ghat and a temple called Kashi Vishwanath Mandir.
Among the deities connected with Uttarkashi are Mahadev, Durga Mata, Kali Mata, Annapurna Devi, Lord Parshuram, Bhairon Baba, Guru Dattatreya, and more. All of these have a common thread with Varanasi (Kashi).
More about Uttarkashi
Uttarkashi is a wonderland of temples, sacred spots, and other places to see. Temples are to be found in every nook and corner, as are ashrams and spiritual retreats. This ancient land of the Gods is also called Kedar Khand and Dev Bhoomi. Kuteti Devi Temple, Kandar Devta Temple, and Nagni Mandir are some of the more prominent temples, besides Kashi Vishwanath and Shakti Devi temples. The area North-East of Uttarkashi was associated with the fabled Nagloka told about in the Puranas and other texts. This area has scores of Nag Devta temples in confirmation with those stories.
Places to visit in and near Uttarkashi
Listed below are some of the places to visit in and around Uttarkashi. Besides these, there are countless more places to see, depending on your stay here. There are numerous trekking options also available, ranging from easy to strenuous treks. Equipment, tents, etc., and guides can also be got here. There are also water sports activities like river rafting, water skiing, fishing and more.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple – This is one of the most famous landmarks of Uttarkashi. This ancient temple finds mention in the Skanda and Markandeya Puranas. The Shivling here has been enshrined by Lord Parshuram. There are other smaller shrines within the temple complex dedicated to Ganesh Ji and others.
Shakti Devi Temple – This is another famous temple of Uttarkashi and is located opposite the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The notable feature of this temple is the 20 feet high Trishul used by Durga Mata to kill Asuras. This Trishul is said to have the combined power of Lord Vishnu’s Sudarshan Chakra, Mahadev’s Trishul, and Lord Parshuram’s ax.
Nehru Institute of Mountaineering – This is the premier mountaineering training center in India and offers courses in basic and advanced mountaineering. They also have a course on Mountain Search and Rescue. The institute organizes climbing expeditions on a regular basis.
Nanda Devi Institute of Adventure Sports – This is an institute certified by Nehru Institute and is India’s first in the private sector. Besides mountaineering courses, this facility has courses on environmental education and nature interpretation.
Dodital Lake – This is a day’s trek from Sangamchatti, ending in a dream-like place. The trek itself is along with beautiful forests and alpine scenery. The lake is crystal clear and full of trout and other fish species. A permit for fishing has to be taken from the forest office in Uttarkashi. Sangamchatti is a 16 km jeep ride from Uttarkashi. Garhwal is a historical place with many legends connected to it. Lord Ganesh is believed to have been born in Dodital.
Ujeli – This is a part of Uttarkashi where many Ashrams and Yoga Centers are located. Ujeli means a constellation of Sages and in this area, many reputed saints and Yoga teachers have set up their centers for seekers of spirituality.
Maneri Bhali Dam – about 15 km from Uttarkashi on the route to Gangotri, this is a place where water from the Bhagirathi river is diverted into a tunnel to facilitate the production of electricity. It is a popular picnic spot and offers great views of the river and mountains.
Bhali Dam – This is the second phase of the Maneri Dam and is located at the edge of Joshiyara in Uttarkashi. This is another popular spot for picnics and seeing the beautiful scenes and sights of Uttarkashi from a vantage point at a higher level than the town.
Chaurangi Khal – This village is about 26 km from Uttarkashi. It is a perfect place for a day’s outing with panoramic views of the river and mountain peaks. There are plenty of cafes and dhabas offering a variety of food.
How to reach Uttarkashi
The nearest railhead is Dehradun, about 143 km from Uttarkashi.
Dehradun Airport is about 160 km from Uttarkashi.
Distances from Uttarkashi
- Gangotri – 96 km
- Yamunotri – 130 km
- Dehradun – 143 km
- Haridwar – 189 km
- Rishikesh – 170 km
- Kedarnath – 246 km
- Badrinath – 325 km
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