INDIA CROSSING THE RIVER GANGES Gangotri is the origin of River Ganga and one of the four sites in the Chardham Yatra. Here; Ganga is known as Bhagirathi; named after the ancient king Bhagirath; who performed penance to bring her down from the heavens. It is believed that bathing in her waters brings deliverance from sins committed in the present and past births. Onwards Devprayag It acquires the name GANGA where Bhagirathi meets the Alaknanda. This temple was made with white stone by Amar Singh Thapa; Gorkha captain in the early 18th century . After Diwali the door of the temple are closed & reopened in May. During winters when Temple is closed due to the heavy snow fall; the idol of the Goddess is kept at Village Mukhab village near Harsil. The actual source of Holy river Ganga is at Gaumukh; set in the Gangotri Glaciers and is a 19 Kms trek from Gangotri. According to Hindu mythology; Goddess Ganga – the daughter of heaven; took the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagirath’s predecessors; following his severe penance of several centuries. Lord Shiva received Ganga into his matted locks to minimize the impact of her fall. According to legend; a Suryavanshi king Sagar decided to perform the Ashwamedh Yagna (horse sacrifice). His 60; 000 sons conquered the territories that the horse crossed. Indra felt threatened by their success. He stole the horse and tied it in Kapil Muni’s ashram. Sagar’s sons followed the horse into the ashram and were disrespectful to the seer; who cursed them. All 60; 000 of them were turned into ashes. The king beseeched the seer for forgiveness; but the curse could not be reversed. However; Kapil Muni suggested that if the holy Ganga; the river of heaven; were to come down to the earth; the touch of her waters would ensure the deliverance of the princes. Many descendants of Sagar failed in their efforts to bring the holy Ganga to earth; until Bhagirath was born. He persevered in his prayers until Ganga agreed to come down to the earth from the heavens. But such was her power that her descent was sure to cause havoc. Thus Bha¬gi¬rath prayed to Lord Shiva; who agreed to contain Ganga in his locks; from where he released a few drops of her celes¬tial waters. The river thus flowed on earth; cleansing all that was impure in her path and delivering the sons of Sagar from their curse.