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Introducing Harsil

Best time to visit : March to November
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On the way from Uttarkashi to the pilgrim town of Gangotri, lies a village of immaculate beauty named Harsil. This picturesque placid village is situated on the banks of river Bhagirathi. At an elevation of 2,620 m. above sea-level, Harsil falls under the jurisdiction of Uttarkashi district in north Indian state of Uttarakhand. Along the vast snow-draped mountains of the Great Himalayas and the soothing music of the gushing waters of the wide river, Harsil is very inviting and captivating to the senses. Travellers visiting the shrine of Gangotri are attracted to make a stopover at this enchanting place. Lined with thick forests of deodars, pines and cedar trees, Harsil has become one of the beautiful tourist places in Uttarakhand. The mountain slopes and ridges are ideal for going on trekking expedition and experience Nature at its full charm. The place also has a considerable produce of apples. The big red apples peeping from the rows of green trees in the orchards, is a sight to cherish.

Facts

According to a legend, Harsil got its name with the combination of two words; Hari (another name for Lord Vishnu) and Shilla, meaning stone. The story goes that the rivers Bhagirathi and Jalandhari began a robust flow to prove their significance. Then, Hari (Lord Vishnu) took the form of a Shilla (rock) and interceded to calm their flow. In some Hindu homes or temples, we see a unique black pebble worshiped as Lord Vishnu which is very similar to the stones we find in these rivers. A British soldier Frederick E. Wilson quit the Army and built a wooden building on this mountain site. It is known as Wilson’s Cottage, but is gutted now. He was said to have built a swing-bridge across the River Bhagirathi, only the traces of which remain today. The place is along the Indo-Sino border and so there is also an Army cantonment here.

You can taste some typical Punjabi food during your visit to Harsil. There are some nice restaurants at Harsil Retreat, Himalayan Eco lodge etc. which are famous. Besides, the Chardham Camp within an orchard is also a good place to taste local delicacies.

You can purchase the juicy red apples from here at reasonable prices. Other than that, like any other place rich in forest resource, wood crafted objects and beautiful figurines shaped with pine seeds are also popular items.

Nearby Places:
There are several attractive places near Harsil, some religiously important and some for their magnificent landscapes. This travel guide lists some of them.

  • Uttarkashi: It is the district headquarter of Harsil and famous for the Vishwanath temple. The place lies at a distance of 73 km. from Harsil.
  • Gangotri: About 23 km. further from Harsil is the abode of goddess Ganga. The Gangotri temple and Gaumukh at the Gangotri Glacier are prime attractions here.
  • Yamunotri: This is another Chardham after Gangotri. Visitors undertake a difficult trek to reach the Champasar Glacier from where the River Yamuna originates.
  • Sat tal: As the name suggests, it is a conflux of seven lakes, around 6 km. away from Harsil. This spot can be approached by trekking while appreciating the pristine surroundings along the zigzag path leading to the lake.

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