The Cradle of Yamuna
Yamunotri, where Yamuna landed on earth, is the symbolic source of river Yamuna. The actual source, a frozen lake of glacial ice, is located at a height of 4421 meters above sea level about ¾ km further up on the Kalind Parvat. Approach to this place is extremely difficult. However the shrine of Yamunotri is located on the foot of the hill and is easily accessible. The Yamuna of Yamunotri is different, entirely different in her infancy, just out from the frozen cradle, tossing and giggling with the mountain pebbles. The tiny Yamuna has icy cold and crystal clear waters, bubbling down with ethereal purity. How different she is from the polluted Yamuna that we see at Delhi and Prayagraj. Absolute innocence and the infantile purity of Yamuna heightens that deep feeling of reverence which Yamunotri has for thousands of devotees.
It is said that sage Asit had his hermitage here. All his life, he bathed daily, both in Ganga and Yamuna. During his old age when he could no longer go to Gangotri, a soft stream of Ganga appeared at Yamunotri for him. Since then a small stream jetting out of the rocks is worshipped here, as Ganga.
The temple of Yamuna is on the foothill of Kalind Parvat on the left bank of Yamuna. The temple was built by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal and is not very big. Inside is an idol of Goddess Yamuna made of black marble, which the Maharaja got from Jaipur. Both Ganga and Yamuna have been extremely benevolent to mankind and have to a great extent been responsible for nurturing and developing the Indian civilisation. Hence both the rivers have been deified and elevated to the status of divine mother. Thus Yamuna, like Ganga is worshipped both in a temple as a deity and in her actual form as a river.
Close to the temple, there are a few hot water springs where water gushes out from the mountain cavities at boiling temperature. Surya Kund is the most important kund. A pinch of rice or potatoes tied loosely in a cloth and dipped in it can be taken out completely cooked after a few minutes. Rice so cooked is taken home as “Prasadam”. Near Surya Kund there is a slab of stone known as Dibya Shila or the slab of divine light. This slab is worshipped before puja is offered to Yamuna.
Also near the temple is the hot water pool known as Jamuna-bai Kund. This Kund is said to have been constructed by some devout pilgrim of the same name during the turn of 18th and 19th century. A dip in the Kund is most rejuvenating and refreshing.
After Puja and darshan of the Goddess Yamuna, the pilgrims have to return to Jankibai Chatti for the night halt, as adequate accommodation facilities are not available at Yamunotri. The tired legs turn back, but by that time the heart and mind get so much set into this rhythmic beauty of nature and the devotional love of Yamuna that the visit has already become a life time memory.
The Pandas of Yamunotri
The pandas of Yamunotri hail from the village of Kharsali, on the other bank of the Yamuna near Jankibai chatti. The entire administration of Yamunotri is in their hands. In addition to performing the usual religious rituals, they are the pujaris of the temple. This is different from the system prevailing at Sri Kedarnath and Sri Badrinath where the pujaris and the pandas are separate groups with differing functions. The pandas’ knowledge of shastras and rituals is profound and they are quite helpful to their clients in mundane business like finding suitable accommodation and even heavenly bliss.
Opening date of the Temple
The temple opens each year on the auspicious day of Akshaya-Tritiya. This is generally in the last week of April, or the first week of May. This year the opening date of Yamunotri kapat is on 30th April 2014.
Closing date of the Temple
The temple always closes on the sacred day of Deepawali with a brief ceremony comprising burning of oil lamps and worship of Yamuna. The temple workers return to their villages and till its next opening the valley is covered with total silence. But the Yamuna keeps flowing from its divine cradle beneath the thick blanket of spotless white snow. With melting of snow the following summer, the temple reopens to greet the thousands of visitors once again.
Rates of horse, mules on Yamunotri trek, please click
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