Have you heard of ‘Kashi of the North’? Yes, you have read correctly. I am not referring to Varanasi which is also called ‘Kashi of the Plains’. Uttarkashi is ‘Kashi of the North’, also called Shivnagri (The land of Shiva). Today I will tell you about the places to visit in Uttarkashi.
Uttarkashi is a district town in the state of Uttarakhand, India. Nestled in the Gharwal Himalayas, on the bank of Bhagirathi Ganga, it has an elevation of 3800 feet above sea level. Uttarkashi is surrounded by alpine forests, majestic hills and snow-capped mountains. It is an ancient place, with references found in the Vedas and later in the Mahabharata. The mythological stories, the religious and spiritual fervour and the scenic beauty are something for which one must check out the places to visit in Uttarkashi
Once again do not get confused for this Vishwanath Temple is not the one at Varanasi. It is another age-old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva situated at Uttarkashi. This Vishwanath Temple, near the main market of Uttarkashi, tops the list of places to visit in Uttarkashi. The ancient temple was built by the great sage Parashuram. The present-day temple is the renovated temple commissioned in the year 1857. Besides the holy shrine of Lord Shiva, there are idols of Ganesha and Parvati that are worshipped daily. Idols of Shakshi Gopal and Sage Markandya are also present. The statue of Nandi, Shiva’s Bull, stands at the centre of the portico.
There are numerous similarities between Kashi of the plains and that of the hills beside the Vishwanath Temple. The sacred part of Uttarkashi lies between Rivers Syalamgad and Kaligad is known as Rivers Varuna and Asi respectively. Varuna and Asi are also names of the rivers in between which Varanasi, ‘Kashi of the Plains’, lie. The holiest ghat (river bank) at Uttarkashi is also called Manikarnika as is at Varanasi.
The Shakti Temple
Just opposite the Vishwanath Temple stands the Shakti Temple dedicated to the mother goddess, Parvati. Goddess Parvati is worshipped as goddess Durga, killing the demon Mahishashura, with her trident. This temple houses a 1500-year-old 12 feet tall trident made of copper and iron, as a symbol of Shakti or the mother goddess Durga. This trident makes the temple a real attraction among places to visit in Uttarkashi. I remember witnessing a Gharwal marriage of young couples in the temple. Gharwal Himalayas is inhabited by simple people, mostly belonging to age-old hill tribes.
The Bank of Bhagirathi River
Uttarkashi is the gateway to Gangotri (100 kilometres). In fact, I have stayed at Uttarkashi and made a day trip to Gangotri. Since Uttarkashi is so close to the origin of the River Bhagirathi/ Ganga, the flow of the river here is extremely frivolous. The riverbank is one of the unavoidable places to visit in Uttarkashi, as the town is situated on the banks. One should get down to the river bank and sit there for some time. It is too rejuvenating and refreshing. The energetic flow of the river will drain away all weariness of the mind and body.
It is a sprawling concrete gravity dam built on the River Bhagirathi for the Maneri Bhali Hydroelectric Project. The dam is one of the significant places to visit in Uttarkashi. It is a popular picnic spot because of the natural beauty. The gorgeous river surrounded by alpine meadows and lofty mountains makes it a very charming place.
It is one of the most serene places to visit in Uttarkashi. Reaching Nachiketa Lake involves a bit of trek but trust me it is worth it. After 30 kilometres drive to Chaurangi Khal from Uttarkashi, there is a 3-kilometre trek. Chaurangi Khal is the village from where one has to get a ticket for the trek. The drive to this village is picturesque. The trek is also scenic, through oak and rhododendron forest. Nachiketa Tal or Lake is situated at the top, surrounded by forested hills. Plastic is banned in the trek and the lake zone.
Sangam Chatti and Bhebra
Among places to visit in Uttarkashi, Sangam Chatti, just half an hour drive from Uttarkashi, is popular among adventure lovers. It is just 14 kilometres away from Uttarkashi and is the starting point of a few trek routes. There is a well-marked trail climbing to the Village of Agoda. A further 2 kilometres climb leads to Bhebra. Till Bhebra, normal tourists make an attempt to climb. Bhebra is a scenic dainty little Himalayan hamlet with pine forests and gushing mountain streams. The village with terrace farming looks like a painting. Greenfields of potatoes, beans and rajma (kidney beans) look ravishing. 7 to 8 kinds of rajma are grown in these villages of Uttarakhand.
There are 2 prominent places to visit in Uttakashi for trek lovers.
Dodital and Dewra Top
From Bhebra starts a trek of 30 kilometres to the Dodital, emerald coloured freshwater lake, set amidst dense forest, at 9.9K feet. It is a chief attraction to bird watchers and bird photographers. Rare species of butterflies are observed here too. Dodital Lake has mythological significance. It has a Ganesha temple as it is believed that Lord Ganesha had once lived here. The sunrise from here will be etched in one’s heart forever. The trek is covered in 2 days and it ends in Dawra top after the lake. Dawra top, at 13.8K feet, is a snow lover’s paradise.
Barsu Village and Dayara Bugyal
The scenic village of Barsu is the starting point of the trek to Dayara Bugyal. Dayara Bugyal is one of the most beautiful alpine pastures in India. It is called, ‘Nature’s Own Garden’. The trail through the pastures provides stunning views of the Himalayas. The trek provides unimaginably wide panoramic views. The snow-capped peaks overlook the meadows. The hikers often come across shepherds and are greeted with views of Mount Bandarpoonch and many more. Daraya Bugyal leads to Dodigad, a mountain stream full of Himalayan Golden Trout, Dodital, the lake and finally Dawra top. This is a ski lover’s paradise in the winter months.
A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.