The shrine of Yamunotri is one of the four ‘Dhams’ (major shrines) of Uttaranchal and falls in District Uttarkashi. The temple of Yamuna is an elevation of 3323 m above sea level admits captivating surroundings at the left bank of Yamunotri river on the foot hills of kalind. This is the place where Yamuna landed on earth, is the source of Yamuna river. The real origin of Yamuna is a frozen lake of ice and Kalind glacier about 1 km beyond Yamunotri at an elevation of 4421 m on the mountain. Since the approach is very difficult, the temple has been built at the base of mount Kalind. Yamuna is worshipped both in temple and in natural form. Adventurous pilgrims and travelers always approach the source of Yamuna. Most of the pilgrims offer puja at the temple itself.
The tiny Yamuna in its infancy has icy cold and crystal clear water, scurrying down with ethereal purity.
It is believed that Yamuna was sister of Yama (Yamraj – Lord of death), daughter of Lord Sun (Surya) and one of the Queens of Lord Krishna known as Kalindi.
Sage Asit had his Ashram here. He spent his whole life Yamunotri. He used to bath daily, both in Ganga and Yamuna. At the end of his life when he was not able to visit to Gangotri, a soft stream of Ganga emerged in Yamunotri for him. Since then the stream gushing out of rocks is also worshipped here, as Ganga.
The temple was built by Maharani Gularia of Jaipur in the 19th century. It was destroyed twice. Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal rebuilt it again. The idol in side the temple is made of black marble.
The Pandas and Temple Administration
The pandas and pujaris of Yamunotri hail from Kharsali village, which is on the other bank of the Yamuna near Jankibaichatti. The entire administration of the temple is in their hands. The pandas are also pujaries of the temple. The pujaries of the temple are house hold Brahmins (Grahsthi).
Opening Day: (18-April-2019)
The temple opens each year on the auspicious day of Akshya-Tritiya, which generally falls during the last week of April, or the first week of May.
The temple always closes on the day of Deepawali with a brief ceremony (Mid-November).
There are a few hot water springs near the temple, where the water gushes out of the mountain cavities at boiling point. The hot water springs close by have been channeled into tanks to facilitate bathing. Surya Kund is the main and most important kund. Into it are placed some rice and potatoes tied loosely in a cloth to be cooked in its boiling water and later taken home by the pilgrims for distribution to family members and friends as blessings (Yamunotri Prasad) of the deity.
In The vicinity of the temple is the hot water pool known as Jamunabi kund constructed 200-300 years back. Pilgrims take as bath in it before offering Puja, which is most rejuvenating and refreshing after a tedious 8 km trek from phoolchatti.
There is a stone slab near Surya Kund known as Dibya Shila (the slab of divine light). This Shila is worshipped in the temple for winter months.
Since there is no plenty of accommodation facilities in Yamunotri, pilgrims after purifying Darshan of Yamunotri leave for Jankibichatti and Hanumanchatti for night halt.
On the way to Yamunotri, near Jankibichati, across the river Yamuna lies the beautiful village of Kharsali, The pandas of Yamunotri hail from this village.
There are two temples in the village. In the center of the village is beautifully carved temple of Sumeshu devta. And on the edge of the village is the three storeyed tower temple dedicated to Lord Shani (Saturn). The temple is said to have reached 15 stories high and probably the present one has been rebuilt since its glorious days. The unique earthquake-proof Architecture of the temple reminds one of the tower Monasteries of Tibet, it has strong Buddist influence. Atop the temple is a leopard statue.
In the premise of the temple there are two huge pots, known as Rikhola and Pikhola, which are held back by chains. The villagers claim that on a full moon night, the pots try to run towards the river, hence the chains.