August 2008, Uttarkashi.

After a seven hour bus ride we made it to Uttarkashi. Uttarkashi is a small town nestled on the valley floor with the Bhagirathi (which later becomes the Ganga further downstream) splitting the town into two parts. It is a also the starting point for many expeditions/treks to the higher reaches of the Himalayas (which was what we also wanted to do, more on that tomorrow). In the evening, we made our way to one of the ghats by the river to marvel at the roaring river flowing past with such force. Hindus believe that taking a dip in the holy river washes away all your sins and even liberates you from the circle of life but I decided to live with my sins for some more time as I did not dare risk getting washed away by the swiftly moving waters! The two in the photo had come to make an offering to the river.

In spite of the immense importance this river has for Hindus and the delicate ecosystem it supports the govt. is going all ahead with projects in Uttarkashi and elsewhere up and down the river that would lead to this powerful river being shackled behind dams. Once the projects are finished and go online the river might not even flow at all for most part of the year! Something that will be unthinkable for thousands of Hindus who travel every year to pilgrimage sites along the river Ganga to take a holy dip. For more on this issue go here.

(To read this mini-travelogue in sequence from the beginning please go here.)

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