Hemkund Sahib, Chamoli

4.9
#2 of 6 in Historic Sites in Chamoli
Hemkund Sahib (also spelled Hemkunt), known as Gurudwara Sri Hemkunt Sahib Ji, is a Sikh place of worship and pilgrimage site in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, India. It is devoted to Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666–1708), the tenth Sikh Guru, and finds mention in Dasam Granth, a work believed to be dictated by him. With its setting of a glacial lake surrounded by seven mountain peaks, each adorned by a Nishan Sahib on its cliff, it is according to the Survey of India located in the Himalayas at an elevation of 4,632 meters (15,197 feet).[1] It is approached from Gobindghat on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway. The main town near Gobindghat is Joshimath.

Hemkund is inaccessible from October through April because of snow bound paths and glaciers. Sikh pilgrims arrive in May and set to work to repair the damage to the path over the winter, which tradition is called kar seva ("work service"), a concept which forms an important tenet of the Sikh faith.

The take-off point for Hemkund 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 (also called Govinddham). This path can be covered either by walk or by pony and a Gurudwara here gives shelter to pilgrims. In addition there are a few hotels and a camp ground with tents and mattresses. A 1,100-metre (3,600 ft)climb on a 6-kilometre (3.7 mi) of stone paved path leads Hemkund. Overnight stay is not allowed at Hemkund Sahib and so it is necessary to leave by 2 PM to make it back to Govindghat by nightfall.

A recent study examining altitude sickness at Hemkund Sahib found that almost one-third of pilgrims who traveled to Hemkund suffered from Acute Mountain Sickness (a form of altitude sickness). As approximately 150,000 pilgrims are believed to travel to Hemkund Sahib each trekking season, almost 50,000 people are at risk of developing Acute Mountain Sickness each year. The authors stated the difficult nature of the trek, limited water consumption and lack of awareness regarding altitude sickness as the main contributory factors.

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 complex construction.
Hemkund Sahib is just one of the many highlights you can arrange to see using our world travel planner, Chamoli Edition.
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Hemkund Sahib Reviews
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  • What an experience . Trekking through the mountainous track with a group of people on a pilgrim. Amazing views on the way. Children absolutely loved it. A must visit experience.  more »
  • The trek is difficult, altitude approximately 4400m ASL, almost 40 degree incline you will definitely feel exhausted and out of breath. But its worth taking a chance. Go on ponies if you wish. The mom...  more »
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