Hemkund

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Hemkunt

ਹੇਮਕੁੰਟ ਸਾਹਿਬ

—  sikh pilgrimage site  —
A stone building is surrounded by partially frozen ponds. Pilgrims can be seen on the paths
Gurudwara Hemkunt Sahib
Hemkunt
Location of Hemkunt
in Uttarakhand and India
Coordinates30°42′0.78″N 79°36′57.54″E / 30.7002167°N 79.6159833°E / 30.7002167; 79.6159833Coordinates: 30°42′0.78″N 79°36′57.54″E / 30.7002167°N 79.6159833°E / 30.7002167; 79.6159833
CountryIndia
StateUttarakhand
District(s)Chamoli district
Time zoneIST (UTC+05:30)
Area

Elevation


4,632.96 metres (15,200.0 ft)

Websitewww.hemkunt.in
 
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Hemkunt

ਹੇਮਕੁੰਟ ਸਾਹਿਬ

—  sikh pilgrimage site  —
A stone building is surrounded by partially frozen ponds. Pilgrims can be seen on the paths
Gurudwara Hemkunt Sahib
Hemkunt
Location of Hemkunt
in Uttarakhand and India
Coordinates30°42′0.78″N 79°36′57.54″E / 30.7002167°N 79.6159833°E / 30.7002167; 79.6159833Coordinates: 30°42′0.78″N 79°36′57.54″E / 30.7002167°N 79.6159833°E / 30.7002167; 79.6159833
CountryIndia
StateUttarakhand
District(s)Chamoli district
Time zoneIST (UTC+05:30)
Area

Elevation


4,632.96 metres (15,200.0 ft)

Websitewww.hemkunt.in

Hemkunt Sahib or Hemkund Sahib (Punjabi: ਹੇਮਕੁੰਟ ਸਾਹਿਬ) (Hindi: हेमकुंट साहिब) is a Sikh gurdwara in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, India. With a setting of a glacial lake surrounded by seven mountain peaks and each peak is adorned by a Nishan Sahib on its cliff, it is located in the Himalayas at an elevation of 15,200 ft as per the Survey of India.[1] It is accessible only by foot from Gobindghat on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway.

Hemkunt Sahib is Sikh place of worship Gurudwara, known as Gurudwara Sri Hemkunt Sahib Ji, devoted to Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666–1708), the tenth Sikh Guru, which finds mention in Dasam Granth, a piece of work believed to be narrated by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Thus this temple holds prominence among people who believe in Dasam Granth.

Contents

Etymology

Hemkunt is a Sanskrit name derived from Hem ("Snow") and Kund ("bowl"). Dasam Granth says this is the place where Pandu Raja practiced Yoga.

History

Bachitira Natak is believed to be an autobiographical account of incarnated life of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji as a powerful youth who was called into existence during Sat Yug, the 'era of truth' (the first of four ages according to Hindu tradition) to do battle with fierce demons that terrorized mortals and gods including Hindu deities and gods. When they had been destroyed, the youth, known as Dusht Daman, the 'destroyer of evil', was instructed to go to Hemkunt Sapatsring to meditate until he was called upon by God. Guru Gobind Singh's own account in Bachitra Natak completes this story. After realizing his oneness with God through meditation and austere discipline, he was reborn in Kal Yug, the 'age of darkness', as the son of the ninth Guru and his wife. Later, after his father's martyrdom, he became the tenth and final living Guru of the Sikhs.

[[ਅਬ ਮੈ ਅਪਨੀ ਕਥਾ ਬਖਾਨੋ ॥ ਤਪ ਸਾਧਤ ਜਿਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਮੁਹਿ ਆਨੋ ॥ अब मै अपनी कथा बखानो ॥ तप साधत जिह बिधि मुहि आनो ॥ Now I relate my own story as to how I was brought here, while I was absorbed in deep meditation.

ਹੇਮ ਕੁੰਟ ਪਰਬਤ ਹੈ ਜਹਾਂ ॥ ਸਪਤ ਸ੍ਰਿੰਗ ਸੋਭਿਤ ਹੈ ਤਹਾਂ ॥੧॥ हेम कुंट परबत है जहां ॥ सपत स्रिंग सोभित है तहां ॥१॥ The site was the mountain named Hemkunt, with seven peaks and looks there very impressive.1.

ਸਪਤ ਸ੍ਰਿੰਗ ਤਿਹ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਹਾਵਾ ॥ ਪੰਡੁ ਰਾਜ ਜਹ ਜੋਗੁ ਕਮਾਵਾ ॥ सपत स्रिंग तिह नामु कहावा ॥ पंडु राज जह जोगु कमावा ॥ That mountain is called Sapt Shring (seven-peaked mountain), where the Pandavas Practised Yoga.

ਤਹ ਹਮ ਅਧਿਕ ਤਪਸਿਆ ਸਾਧੀ ॥ ਮਹਾਕਾਲ ਕਾਲਿਕਾ ਅਰਾਧੀ ॥੨॥ तह हम अधिक तपसिआ साधी ॥ महाकाल कालिका अराधी ॥२॥ There I was absorbed in deep meditation on the Primal Power, the Supreme KAL.2.

ਇਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਕਰਤ ਤਪਿਸਆ ਭਯੋ ॥ ਦ੍ਵੈ ਤੇ ਏਕ ਰੂਪ ਹ੍ਵੈ ਗਯੋ ॥ इह बिधि करत तपिसआ भयो ॥ द्वै ते एक रूप ह्वै गयो ॥ In this way, my meditation reached its zenith and I became One with the Omnipotent Lord.]]

In the above verses, the Guru Ji tells of His origins. He describes the place Hemkunt Parbat Sapat Sring, the "lake of ice" "mountains" adorned with "seven peaks", as the same place where King Pandu, the forefather of the five Pandava brothers of Mahabharata fame, practiced yoga. There, the Guru Ji did intense meditation and austerities until He merged with God. Because His earthly parents had served God, God was pleased with them and gave a commandment that the Guru Ji to be born to them. In the mortal world He would carry out a mission to teach the true religion and rid people of evil ways. He was reluctant to leave his state of union with the creator, but God compelled Him. In this way the Guru Ji took birth into the world.

The search for and discovery of Hemkunt Sahib came out of the desire of the Sikhs to erect shrines to honour places consecrated by the visit of the tenth Guru during his lifetime or, in the case of Hemkunt Sahib, during his previous lifetime. Although Bachitra Natak was included in the Dasam Granth some time in the 1730s, Sikhs apparently did not consider looking for Hemkunt Sapatsring until the late nineteenth century. It did not become a place of pilgrimage until the twentieth century. Pandit Tara Singh Narotam, a nineteenth century Nirmala scholar, was the first Sikh to trace the geographical location of Hemkunt. He wrote of Hemkunt Sahib as one among the 508 Sikh shrines he described in Sri Gur Tirath Sangrah (first published in 1884). Much later, renowned Sikh scholar Bhai Vir Singh was instrumental in developing Hemkunt Sahib after it had been, in a sense, re-discovered by another Sikh in search of the Guru's tap asthan.

Sohan Singh was a retired granthi from the Indian army who was working in a gurdwara (Sikh temple) in Tehri Garhwal. In 1932, he read the description of Hemkunt Sahib in Bhai Vir Singh's Sri Kalgidhar Chamatkar (1929). This account of the place and the meditation of a great yogi there was based on the tale of Guru Gobind Singh's life and previous life as told in Bachitra Natak and the Suraj [Prakash] Granth.

In 1930, Sant Sohan Singh, a retired granthi from the Indian Army, claimed to have found Hemkunt Sahib as stated in Bachitra Natak. To some extent he was financed by Bhai Vir Singh, a romantic poet of Punjab, belonging to landed gentry. Bachitra Natak was somehow able to capture the imagination of Sikhs, largely because of the beautiful poetry, and songs and verses that resonated to their sentiments and music. Sohan Singh, who died around 1937, was assisted by a Sikh soldier, Havildar Modan Singh of the Bengal Sappers and Miners, who then laid the foundation of the first building and opened access to the public through Govindghat. Later, he went on to live here and stayed until his death in 1960.[2][3] The Sikh religious organizations designated Hemkunt Sahib as a special place for worship.

Travel

Pilgrims going across the Hemkund Glacier to visit Gurudwara Sri Hemkund Sahib

Hemkunt is inaccessible because of snow from October through April. Each year the first Sikh pilgrims arrive in May and set to work to repair the damage to the path over the winter. This Sikh tradition is called kar seva ("work service"), a concept which forms an important tenet of the Sikh faith of belonging to and contributing to the community.

The take-off point for Hemkunt Sahib is the town of Govindghat about 275 kilometres (171 mi) from Rishikesh. The 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) trek is along a reasonably well maintained path to the village of Ghangaria. There is another Gurudwara where pilgrims can spend the night. In addition there are a few hotels and a campground with tents and mattresses. A 1,100-metre (3,600 ft)climb on a 6-kilometre (3.7 mi) of stone paved path leads Hemkunt. There are no sleeping arrangements at Hemkunt Sahib so it is necessary to leave by 2 pm to make it back to Govindghat by nightfall.

From Delhi, tourists take the train to Haridwar and then travel by bus to Govindghat via Rishikesh. It is also possible to drive from Delhi to Govindghat, about 500 km and takes about 18 hours. The main town near Govindghat is Joshimath.

Present Gurudwara

Design and construction of the present gurudwara was started in the mid-1960s, after Major General Harkirat Singh, Engineer-in-Chief, Indian Army visited the gurudwara. Major General Harkirat Singh selected Architect Siali to head the design and construction effort. Thereafter, Architect Siali luddu made annual trips to Hemkunt Sahib and organized and supervised the very complex construction process.

From year 2011, there has been a live telecast of kirtan from the gurudwara sahib on MH1 Channel every morning from 10 AM to 1 PM.

Nature

Another tributary joins the silt laden Ganges

The tributaries of the Ganges merge along the way and the towns at the confluences carry the suffix prayag ("confluence").

At all major prayags there are Hindu temples precisely in the V of the confluence, and it is generally possible to walk down to these temples and watch the water up close.

Valley of Flowers

Hibiscus flower

About 3 km from Gobinddham is the 5 km long Valley of Flowers. The Indian Government has declared this valley a national park. It is situated in Nanda Devi Bio Reserve, and all activities are carefully regulated to preserve the valley in pristine condition. The best months to visit are July and August, during the monsoons. The valley can be closed to visitors if the weather is totally inclement. Legend has it that a flower called Brahma-Kamal blossoms here every 12 years.

The trek to the valley is relatively easy and is a popular second destination for pilgrims visiting Hemkunt Sahib.

Images

References

  1. ^ Hemkunt Sahib at Google maps Satellite view: lake, Gurudwara building on west shore, zigzag pilgrim path from Ghanaria (2 km west) to west shore. Terrain view: Hemkunt Sahib at 4,200 m, Ghanaria at 3,100 m.
  2. ^ A sacred summit The Tribune, June 20, 2004.
  3. ^ Discovery of Hem Kund Sahib Bengal Sappers and Miners.

External links