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Hemkund Sahib – The holy lake & the Gurudwara

Known earlier as Lokpal, Hemkund Sahib has an interesting legend associated with it. According to Hindu mythology, Hemkund was the place where Lakshman, the brother of Lord Rama did his penance. The Sikhs believe that Hemkund is the place where their beloved 10th and the last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh as Dust Daman was unified with God after prolonged meditation in his previous birth. The Guru had referred to his previous birth in one of the chapters of his autobiographical poem ‘Bichittar Natak' wherein he had described a place deep in the Himalayas surrounded by seven peaks and a glacial lake where he was united with the Master after a prolong penance.
Hemkund Sahib, Uttarakhand
Though the Sikhs had known of the story and had tried very hard to locate the exact place, it took two devout Sikhs Sant Solan Singh and Mohan Singh extreme hard work and effort to discover the place. Soon after the discovery, Hemkund Sahib became an important pilgrimage centre and a star shaped Gurudwara was built on the very place where Guru Gobind Singh is said to have meditated.
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There are places that are beautiful and easy to reach and then there are gems, hidden and far away, difficult to access; but one that will take your breath – away. The Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara is one such breath-taking destination that is simply incredible. Revered both by the Sikhs and the Hindus, Hemkund Sahib is located in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand.

An important Sikh pilgrimage site, Hemkund is located 4329 meters above sea level in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The Sikh community holds Hemkund Sahib in extreme respect as the place is associated with Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru, who founded Khalsa Panth in 1699. It is also venerated by the Hindus, for the place is also home to the Lakshman Temple. Hemkund is also the place where the mythical and rare yellow-green flower known as the Brahma Kamal, or 'Lotus of the Gods' is found

Places of Interest
Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara, Uttarakhand

Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara: Located on the banks of the Hemkund Lake, the Gurudwara of Hemkund Sahib is a star-shaped structure. An outlet behind the Gurudwara is source of the Lakshman Ganga.

The Hemkund Lake: A beautiful lake set amidst picturesque surroundings, the Hemkund Lake is about 2 km in circumference. While the lake stays snow covered during the winters one can view the reflection of the surrounding Saptashringa Peaks (5,500 m) in its crystal clear waters during the summers. The glaciers from Hathi Parvat and Saptrishi peaks feed the lake and a small stream called Himganga flows out of this lake. The abundance of beautiful and varied wildflowers and ferns that cover the banks of the lake and the cascading water falls make this place a heavenly sight.

Lakshman Temple: Located on the banks of the Hemkund Lake is a temple dedicated to Lakshman, the brother of Lord Rama. Also known as the Lokpal Temple, it was here that Lakshman did his penance. It is also believed that the Sanjeevani Bhuti that cured Lakshman was also found from this place.

Places Nearby
Valley of flowers, Uttarakhand

Valley of Flowers: A glacial corridor 8 km in length and 2 km in width that gets carpeted with beautiful wildflowers during July and August, Valley of Flowers is 8 km from Ghangaria, which serves as a base camp both for the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. You need to veer left for the Valley of Flowers, while the straight climb leads to Hemkund Sahib. The trail to the valley is well marked. You need to register and pay a fee at the gate to enter the Valley of Flowers.

Govindghat: Govindghat located at the confluence of the Alaknanda and Lakshman Ganga rivers is the starting point for trekking to Hemkund Sahib. Govindghat is 22 km from Joshimath on NH 58 and has an imposing Gurudwara named after Guru Govind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru.

Joshimath, Uttarakhand

Joshimath: The nearest town to Hemkund Sahib, Joshimath is located on the confluence of the Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers. It is associated with Adi Shankaracharya, who built a temple here in the 9th century. The temple of Ugra Narasimha- the half man, half lion avatar of Lord Vishnu is also situated here.

Auli: A picturesque ski resort located 9,000 feet above sea level, excellent for winter sports and views of the Himalayas is just 8 km from Joshimath. An interesting way to reach Auli is to take the cable ropeway.

Badrinath Temple, Uttarakhand

Badrinath: One of the Chardhams of India, Badrinath is 30 km from Govindghat and is the seat of Vishnu. Badrinath was established as a major pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara in the 9th century. The Badrinath Temple is the main attraction here, which houses the black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone. The image was found by Adi Shankaracharya in the Alaknanda River.

Ghangharia: Ghangharia serves as a base for visiting Hemkund Sahib as well as the Valley of Flowers. It is the last human habitation in the valley. A Tourist Lodge, log huts, tents and a Gurudwara provide comfortable accommodation.

Stay Options
GMVN Rest House, Ghangaria, Uttarakhand

There are rest houses run by the Hemkund Sahib Trust all along the way from Rishikesh and Joshimath to Hemkund Sahib. Here devotees are provided with food and accommodation free of charge. Ghangharia, the base camp for Hemkund Sahib has several tourist lodges, hotels and rest houses. There is a Gurudwara in Ghangaria that accommodate thousands of pilgrims. 

However, it is at Hemkund Sahib that the facilities become limited. While only the granthis and the sevadars who work at the shrine are allowed to stay there for the night; pilgrims are expected to go back to Ghangharia before nightfall.
Click here to check stay options for Hemkund Sahib

How to reach

By Air: Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun, 268 km from Hemkund Sahib via Gobindghat and Rishikesh, is the nearest airport. The airport is not operational yet.

By Rail: Rishikesh Railway Station at 200 km from Hemkund and 175 km from Gobindghat is the closest railhead. Haridwar and Dehradun are other near by railway station.

By Road: Joshimath at 40 km from Hemkunt Sahib is the base from where one needs to take a bus or hire a taxi to reach Gobindghat. Gobindghat is also well connected by road with Rishikesh, Kotdwara, Dehradun, Haridwar, Nainital, Ranikhet etc.

It is also on the bus route to Badrinath from Rishikesh. From Gobindghat, one needs to trek 14 km to reach Ghangharia via Vishnuganga River and Bhyundar Valley. Ghangharia, at the confluence of the Pushpavati and the Lakshman Ganga rivers is the last base before the steep 6 km climb to Hemkund and the Valley of Flowers.

In Short: Joshimath- Gobindghat- Ghangharia-Hemkund Sahib/ Valley of Flowers

Note: Mules, ponies, coolies and sedan chairs can be hired at Gobindghat by those who can't walk all the way to the shrine. It is wise to break your journey for the night at Ghangaria and then start for Hemkund Sahib the next day.

Best Time to Visit
Mid July to September when the weather is relatively pleasant and the flowers are in full bloom. However, it is essential to carry woolens and good sturdy trekking shoes. It may also rain, a good rain coat is recommended though one can buy cheap plastic rain coats on the way to Hemkund Sahib.

About Hemkund Sahib: Hemkund Sahib Information & Fact File
Altitude 4329 meters
Summer 18 (Max) & 0 (Min) Degrees Celsius
Winter 2 (Max) & -12 (Min) Degrees Celsius
Best time to Go June – September
Monsoon July - August
Summer June
Snowfall October – May
Clothes Very heavy woolens in winter and heavy woolens in summer
Nearest Airport Jolly Grant (Dehradun), 268 km
Nearest Railway Station Rishikesh, 200 km
Bus Station Gobindghat (Road head), 21 km– Direct buses from Rishikesh, Dehradun
Hospital & Doctor

The District hospital at Chamoli (93 km) is fairly well equipped to handle emergencies

Places to see Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara, Hemkund Lokpal Lake, Lakshman Temple, Gobindghat, Valley of Flowers…
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