INDIA CROSSING THE RIVER GANGES Gangotri; a sacred hindu pilgrimage is the source of sacred river Ganga which is called at that point as Bhagirathi.Gangotri is a beautiful place which becomes highly crowded during the months of May-June. If you are interested in real wonders of nature then it is better you leave this place for Goumukh and Tapovan as early as possible. Pay your obeisance at Gangotri temple and head towards Goumukh.It means Cow's mouth and is 18 kms trek from Gangotri having a steady but gradual climb. Next place is Chirbasa meaning place of pines; about 8 kms from Gangotri and then 7 kms from Chirbasa lies Bhojbasa meaning place of birches though no such tree exist there. Bhojbasa trees produce Bhojpatra having religious value as this was used by saints to write religious texts.These places have tea shops and dhabas.Then came the splendid heaven of Gaumukh.The place is so named as Ganga originates here from a glacier having the shape of cow's mouth. Surprisingly; the color of Bhagirathi here is viscous gray and resembles milk.Gaumukh has no temple but temporary shrines are built near the mouth of glacier.The river is about 30 meters wide at its mouth and is swift river stream of milky water.It is believed by hindus that Ganga was a goddess who was compelled to come to earth by the king Bhagirath who meditated here so that the sins of his ancestors can be washed by pious waters of goddess Ganga and since the power of Ganga was so ferocious that mighty lord Shiva was requested to take Ganga in his hairs when it fell on earth.Lord Shiva took Ganga in his hairs and saved the earth from certain destruction.This place has immense beauty.Then came next destination for real adventurers about 5 kms from Gaumukh.It is wonderful heaven-Tapovan.From Gaumukh one can see splendid peaks of Bhagirath-I; II and III and grand shivling peak.The path to Tapovan is pretty tough and climb is very steep but the reward is also amazing.Tapovan is a broad plateau having meadows and sources of water.It falls in the protected area and is a wildlife sanctuary.Shivling; the phallic manifestation of mighty lord Shiva seemingly arise out of the meadow and has dominated the whole landscape.Tapovan meadows resembling arctic tundras are used as base camp by many expeditions and has great meditative significance.Tapovan is full of exotic wild flowers during the months of monsoons which have great ecological value. A fundamental question arises when one tries to find the source of river Ganga. When one visits; tapovan; it became clear that Ganga has its source somewhere else and Gaumukh may not the real source –it may arise from near tapovan or may originate from rocks of shivling.It is also said that Ganga has its source in Kailash mansarovar in Tibet; China. Gangotri is a must visit journey for all religious devotees and nature lovers. Come and explore the ultimate destination of Indian Himalayas.