Shri Hemkund Sahib Yatra 2019

Located at an altitude of 15,000 feet from the sea level, Shri Hemkund Sahib is a significant holy shrine and pilgrimage destination for Sikhs in India. Thousands of devotees take on this arduous yet picturesque pilgrimage every year. Built on the banks of the glacial Lokpal lake and surrounded by seven gigantic yet mesmerizing peaks, it is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. While this shrine is devoted to the tenth Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666–1708), Hindu pilgrims hold this shrine in high accord for their mythological God, Lakshamana, with tales of association to this site from Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Hemkund Sahib Yatra Opening Date

May 25, 2019 - October 10, 2019
Coinciding with the Char Dham yatra, every year, the Hemkund Sahib yatra is open for 5-6 months, usually from May to October. It is the best time to visit as the weather during this time is pleasant, with a maximum temperature reaching 25 degrees Celsius. For 2019, post a 6-month winter break, the Gurudwara will be open for visitation from 25th of May, 12 noon, through 10th of October. The first procession or Nagar Kirtan of pilgrims will commence on the 24th of May to reach the Gurudwara on the 25th. Food, travel and lodging facilities are available en-route.

About Hemkund Sahib Yatra

Distance Covered: 19 kilometre
Palkis/Ponies/Pitthus: Available
Duration: 8-10 hours
Difficulty Level: Last 2 kms to reach Ghangaria and 6 kms from Ghangaria to Hemkund Sahib can get challenging
After reaching Govind Ghat by a suitable means of transportation, one must undertake a 19-km trek to reach Hemkund Sahib. For old people, people with special needs, or others who don’t want to trek, ponies, palkies, and pitthus are easily available. Devotees from around the country undertake this trek on scooters, bikes, buses, or on foot. It is usually an 8-10-hour trek to reach Ghangaria, which is the base camp for both Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib (6-km) and the Valley of Flowers (4-km).

Overall, the trek is not very difficult. However, the last 2 km to reach Ghangaria is relatively hard owing to the fact that it is steep. Despite the long and tiring trek, you will feel motivated to continue due to the influence of various people who are with you as companions. Another reason is the captivating beauty of the place more than makes up for it. The sight of the mountains, rivers and the various kinds of flora and fauna that one sees along the way are a treat to the eyes, a source of calmness, and provide one with time to introspect. It is a calming experience.

The 6-km stretch to reach Hemkund Sahib from Ghangaria takes more time and is considerably more challenging and steep. Careful planning in advance is recommended for this part of the trek. Even though monsoons would give you a full spectrum of visual treat on this trek as the flora and fauna are in full bloom during that time, the roads may not be in good condition for the trek. In spite of that, the trek during that time in manageable, albeit with advance planning.

All the long hours of planning, commuting, and trekking would come to fruition upon reaching the Gurudwara, which is a sight to behold. The hot meal (langar) served at the Gurudwara would be the reward.

How to Reach

By Flight: The nearest airport to Hemkund Sahib is Jolly Grant near Dehradun. From there, one must reach Govind Ghat by road, which is 292-km from the airport. Taxis are easily available. Roads, which are well constructed and motorable, are only connected till Govind Ghat. Post that, there is a 19-km trek to reach Hemkund Sahib.

By Train: The nearest railway station to Hemkund Sahib is Rishikesh. From there, one must reach Govind Ghat by road, which is 273-km from the railway station on NH58. Taxis are easily available. Roads, which are well constructed and motorable, are only connected till Govind Ghat. Post that, there is a 16-km trek to reach Hemkund Sahib.

By Road: Hemkund Sahib is well connected till Govind Ghat, post which, one must undertake a trek of around 19-km to reach the holy shrine. Buses and taxis from cities like Delhi, Punjab, and Dehradun are easily available till Govind Ghat.

One can also take a helicopter service to the holy shrine from Govind Ghat.
hemkund sahib
Source

Religious Significance

The tenth Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, is believed to meditate on the banks of the Hemkund lake. According to the Hindu mythology, even Rishi Medhasa of Markandeya Purana and Lakshman are said to have meditated at this place. In an interesting mythological tale, it is said that Lakshman was brought to the banks of the river after getting into a fight with Ravana’s son and getting seriously wounded. Hanuman, who was an avid devotee of Lord Ram, Lakshman’s older brother, found a life-saving herb for Lakshman’s revival and recovery. When the herb showed its miracle and Lakshman’s life was saved, it is said that in celebration, flowers were showered from heaven. They fell at a place which is today known as the Valley of Flowers, a beautiful place near Hemkund Sahib.

As far as the significance of Sikh history goes, the search for Shri Hemkund Sahib commenced in the late nineteenth century. The shrine has been mentioned in the Dasam Granth, a text written by the tenth Guru on his ideas and guidelines for the future of Sikhism. While the first Sikh to speculate Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s place of meditation was a writer named Bhai Santokh Singh in 1843, it was in 1884 that Pandit Tara Singh Narotam, aNirmila Scholar, was geographically able to trace its location. It was much later that Shri Hemkund Sahib started developing and became what it is today by a Sikh scholar Bhai Vir Singh.
hemkund sahib
Source

Where to Stay

Unfortunately, there is no staying facility of hotel or lodges in Hemkund Sahib. Due to the weather conditions and lack of proper infrastructure, it is not allowed to stay inside the Gurudwara. After the holy prayers and spending time at the Gurudwara, one must leave latest by 2 PM to come down to Ghangaria to stay the night. The place has a Gurudwara and a few hotels. However, the hotels are in remote areas, and due to the lack of phone and internet connectivity, it is very difficult to book a room in those hotels. There is also a campground with tents and mattresses. Most people prefer staying at the Gurudwara.

What Else to See

Spread over a stretch of 10-km and discovered in 1931, the Valley of Flowers is a worldwide tourist attraction. It is a 4-km trek from Ghangaria. A permit is required to visit and explore the place, which can be taken from the Forest Office just above Ghangaria. For foreigners, a three-day pass is for Rs. 600, and for Indians it is Rs. 150.

Other interesting places to refresh and rejuvenate yourself from the fast-paced city life are Joshimath (38.7-km), Badrinath (43-km), and Auli (48.9 km).

This post was published by Simranjeet Kaur

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