Gangotri, a sacred pilgrimage spot for all pious Hindus has a latitudinal & longitudinal extent of 30.98 degree North 78.93 East. The town falls in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district and has been set up on River Bhagirathi’s banks. Gangotri town is positioned at an altitude of 10,200 ft above the sea level on Greater Himalayan mountain ranges. Gangotri is considered as the birthplace of River Ganges but the true geographical source of River Ganga is the Gaumukh glacier lying 21 kms away from Gangotri, towards the South-east direction.
Gangotri glacier’s terminus resembles the mouth of a cow in shape and thus is called ‘Gaumukh’. The point at which River Ganga emerges falls within the Indian periphery, right at the point where our country shares border with Tibetan autonomous portion of China. The five major headstreams of Ganges, namely Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, Mandakini, Dhauliganga, Pindar have their rising roots in the mountains falling towards the North of Uttarakhand state.
The Ganges mainstream is formed by the union of two Rivers, Alaknanda & Bhagirathi which make a confluence at the Devprayag. The Ganga River thus formed makes its way through Southern Himalayas and emerges from Mountain ranges at Rishikesh.
Gangotri is very cold in the winter months and is wrapped in snow due to heavy snowfall. Temperatures drop below zero degrees. In summers, the weather is pleasant and cool with the maximum average temperature being around 20 degree centigrade-25 degree centigrade. Gangotri has a summer season of two months; i.e. April & May. With the onset of the monsoons in the month of June, the region becomes slippery and prone to landslides. The volume of waters in River Ganges increases significantly both in the summers as well in the rainy season. In summers the river is fed by the waters of melting snow while in the rainy season, the torrential downpours feed the river.
The Gangotri region has a rugged rocky terrain. Those who trek from Gangotri to the glacier Gaumukh, are encountered by dense forests of conifers like Pine, Deodar in the first half of the journey but as they near the glacier, the terrain changes to rough, rocky and a quite difficult terrain in terms of accessibility. This change of terrain is marked by the gradual disappearance of tree line.