What is Gaumukh Tapovan?

What is Gaumukh Tapovan?

Category Treks

By Saba Husain


What is Gaumukh Tapovan?

Gaumukh Tapovan is an adventure trek situated around 18 km from Gangotri and is a holy pilgrimage site for many. It also serves as a fantastic trail for trekkers.

Gaumukh or Gomukh or Gomukhi is the site where the Gangotri glacier terminates and it is at this place where river Bhagirathi originates. River Bhagirathi is one of the major streams of Ganga river. The name literally means the ‘mouth of the cow’. 

 Tapovan in Sanskrit means penance - tapas and this ‘van’ - forest of penance is considered a place where sages and ascetics came to meditate and find spiritual awakening.

Why is Gaumukh Famous?

Gaumukh, or Gomukh is one of the holiest lands in Uttarakhand as it is the source of the holy Ganga River. It is the second-largest glacier in India.  

Gaumukh holds a very religious significance in Hindu mythology and is a pilgrimage location where pilgrims come to visit the Gangotri holy shrine and see the Gomukh - the pout of the Gangotri glacier and the emergence of the holy Ganga river.  Gomukh is mentioned in the Puranas. It is said that, a shepherd lost his sheep and reached near a glacier in Gangotri, the snout of which exactly looked like the face of a Cow, and thus it got its name 'Gomukh’.

Why is Tapovan famous?

Tapovan is associated with Lord Rama and the epic Ramayana. This place was once used by sages for meditation, penance and spiritual awakening. Tapovan is famous for its big mountain views. You see some of the most historic Indian mountains right from its base. 

Mount Shivling is an extraordinary mountain to view. The peak is poised with such a  beautiful gait and framework which makes it look elegant and mesmerising.

The three Bhagirathi sisters - I, II and III are cradled within one space and you are in awe to see these huge mountains with full view right from the base to the summit. 

Mount Meru  is a sacred  five peak mountain  which has a lot of significance in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist culture. It is considered to be the centre of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. The 5 peaks symbolize the central axis of the universe much like  the vertebral column of the human body and how the spinal cord acts as the central axis that keeps the body upright. 

The panoramic sunrises and sunsets are unmissable. You will be able to see the sun rays cascading slowly and steadily from the tip of the Mount Shivling until the entire peak is shimmering in sun bathed gold. As the sun sets, you will see the blanket slowly being lifted up until its the next day.

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Mt. Shivling and Mt Meru is the backdrop. Image from Indiahikes Archive.

Why should you do the Gaumukh Tapovan Trek  

Gaumukh Tapovan is a trek for all who love to experience mountains. It is a definite addition to the bucket list.  

There are many other 6000+ metre mountains you’d like to see, but this trek provides you an opportunity to witness some of the most intricately carved mountains by Mother Nature all close to each other. The cultural significance of these mountains just further enhances the whole grandeur of what you are experiencing. It definitely is one trek that cannot be missed.

Saba Husain

About the author

Saba Husain is an avid trekker who has completed many Himalayan treks including Brahmatal and Markha Valley. She comes from the education sector with more than a decade worth of experience in leading, coordinating and mentoring teachers and students.

A yoga practitioner who enjoys long distance walking and cycling, she epitomizes the concept and science of ‘mind over body’.

A firm believer in the philosophy ‘everyone must trek as it transforms lives’, she has taken her passion for trekking to educate beginners moving into this exciting space by sharing her experiences.