About Hemkund Sahib
Hemkund Sahib is a pilgrimage site in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, India. With a setting of a glacial lake surrounded by seven mountain peaks and each peak adorned by a Nishan Sahib on its cliff, it is located in the Himalayas at an elevation of 4632 meters (15,200 ft) as per the Survey of India. It is accessible only by foot from Gobindghat on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway.
Hemkunt Sahib is Sikh place of worship Gurudwara, known as Gurudwara Sri Hemkunt Sahib Ji, devoted to Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666–1708), the tenth Sikh Guru, which finds mention in Dasam Granth, a piece of work believed to be narrated by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Thus this temple holds prominence among people who believe in Dasam Granth.
Etymology of Hemkund sahib
Hemkunt is a Sanskrit name derived from Hem ("Snow") and Kund ("bowl"). Dasam Granth says this is the place where Pandu Raja practiced Yoga.
Travel to Hemkund Sahib
Pilgrims going across the Hemkund Glacier to visit Gurudwara Sri Hemkund Sahib Hemkunt is inaccessible because of snow from October through April. Each year the first Sikh pilgrims arrive in May and set to work to repair the damage to the path over the winter. This Sikh tradition is called kar seva ("work service"), a concept which forms an important tenet of the Sikh faith of belonging to and contributing to the community.
The take-off point for Hemkunt Sahib is the town of Govindghat about 275 kilometres (171 mi) from Rishikesh. The 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) trek is along a reasonably well maintained path to the village of Ghangaria. There is another Gurudwara where pilgrims can spend the night. In addition there are a few hotels and a campground with tents and mattresses. A 1,100-metre (3,600 ft)climb on a 6-kilometre (3.7 mi) of stone paved path leads Hemkunt. There are no sleeping arrangements at Hemkunt Sahib so it is necessary to leave by 2 pm to make it back to Govindghat by nightfall.
From Delhi, tourists take the train to Haridwar and then travel by bus to Govindghat via Rishikesh. It is also possible to drive from Delhi to Govindghat, about 500 km and takes about 18 hours. The main town near Govindghat is Joshimath.
Present Gurudwara at Hemkund Sahib
Design and construction of the present gurudwara was started in the mid-1960s, after Major General Harkirat Singh, Engineer-in-Chief, Indian Army visited the gurudwara. Major General Harkirat Singh selected Architect Siali to head the design and construction effort. Thereafter, Architect Siali luddu made annual trips to Hemkunt Sahib and organized and supervised the very complex construction process.
From year 2011, there has been a live telecast of kirtan from the gurudwara sahib on MH1 Channel every morning from 10 AM to 1 PM.
At all major prayags there are Hindu temples precisely in the V of the confluence, and it is generally possible to walk down to these temples and watch the water up close.
Valley of Flowers at Hemkund sahib Ji
About 3 km from Gobinddham is the 5 km long Valley of Flowers. The Indian Government has declared this valley a national park. It is situated in Nanda Devi Bio Reserve, and all activities are carefully regulated to preserve the valley in pristine condition. The best months to visit are July and August, during the monsoons. The valley can be closed to visitors if the weather is totally inclement. Legend has it that a flower called Brahma-Kamal blossoms here every 12 years.
The trek to the valley is relatively easy and is a popular second destination for pilgrims visiting Hemkunt Sahib.