Sri Hemkund Sahib is a sacred pilgrimage nestled in the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand. It is visited by thousands of Sikhs every year and a highly revered one. This is perched at an altitude of 4329 m making it the highest Gurudwara in the world. In the backdrop of snow-clad mountains, the literal meaning of it comes out to be ‘Lake of Snow’. It can be reached through a beautiful trek amidst dense forest and captivating views of the Himalayas passing numerous waterfalls. The extreme weather conditions of winter makes the Gurudwara accessible only between May and October, closing it for the remaining months of the year. It is stated in the epic ‘BachitraNatak’ that Guru Gobind Singh Ji meditated here during his previous birth amidst the seven snow peaks. In spite of harsh climate and rough terrain, pilgrims flock in numbers every year to seek blessings of almighty and visit the crystal clear waters.
How to Reach Hemkund Sahib
By Air- Nearest airport being Jolly Grant Airport near Dehradun, one has to travel further for about 292-km from there to reach Govind Ghat and trek further for 19km to reach Hemkund Sahib.
By Train-Nearest railhead is at Rishikesh from where one has to travel by road to reach Govind ghat at a distance of about 273-km on NH 58. Taxis and government buses can be found from here to travel further.
By Road- One can reach Govind Ghat by motorable roads or hire taxis and buses from anywhere around or neighboring states. Further from where one has to trek to reach Hemkund Sahib.
Best Time to visit Hemkund Sahib
This opens for a span of 5 to 6 months from May to October coinciding with the Char Dham yatra. The climate also remains quite pleasant during this part of the year making it the best time to visit. The temperatures do not cross a maximum of 25-degree Celcius.
Monsoons (July – September) can make this region a bit trickier to take up the trek due to landslides and rainfall.
Winters (November – April) is extremely harsh with snowfall and roadblocks thus making the region completely inaccessible.
Lack of proper infrastructure and unpredictable weather conditions there is no facility of accommodation near Hemkund Sahib. One must head back from Gurudwara after the holy prayers latest by 2 PM to get back to Ghangaria. Ghangaria has got a few hotels and a Gurudwara which offer stay options apart from which there is a camping ground with a tent and mattresses.
Trek to reach Hemkund Sahib
Since the Gurudwara is located at a height of about 15000 ft above the sea level it becomes accessible only during summer months of the year. You must either trek or ride mules to reach Sri Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara or ride on mules from Gobind Ghat. The forest cover, rivers, and snow-capped mountains make up a scenic trail en route Gurudwara. Even though the route can get quite unpredictable and daunting, faith keeps the believers going. All the pilgrims are even offered food and lodging facilities. Place gets quite cold and the descent down becomes difficult thus pilgrims cannot stay at the Gurudwara for longer.
- The weather is quite unpredictable here, so one must be ready to face the changes that occur frequently.
- Carry a raincoat, wind-sheeter, sweater, jacket which might be a requirement anytime during the trek.
- Wear a good pair of trekking shoes, carry torch (spare batteries) water bottle, first aid kit without miss.
- The gurudwara darshan closes in October.
The architecture of Hemkund Sahib
The Gurudwara is built in an impressive star-shaped structure crafted out of marble. There were special considerations and precautions kept in mind while building the only Gurudwara at such an altitude. Different sections of the Gurudwara were built separately and transported to complete the construction at the site. The roof is designed to withstand the amount of snowfall the region receives, it was built out of aluminium so that it glistened as the sun rays made way on them. A section for women to bathe was made separately by diverting the water from the lake towards the ground floor of Gurudwara. Exquisite tapestry and splendid decorations of light adorn the giant hall as you enter the gurudwara. There is a langar hall is situated close by too where pilgrims are served a holy meal.
History of Hemkund Sahib-
It is believed that this was the place where Guru Gobind Sigh Ji meditated in his previous life. According to the autobiography of Guru Gobind Singh, the region remained unexplored and untouched for almost more than two centuries. The lake was famously known as “Lokpal” meaning of sustainer of people. The collective efforts of the Sikh Community brought this gurudwara into existence known as the Hemkund Sahib.