Gaumukh Tapovan Trek – Unless you’re a devout Hindu, to get a real sense of awe you’ll probably have to trek from Gangotri to the true source of the river, at Gaumukh, 18km upstream. The water flows out of Gangotri Glacier beneath the soaring west face of Baghirathi Parvat with the peak of Shivling toward to the south.
Don’t be daunted by the trek – the trail rises gradually and is totally solid. Fourteen kilometres (four to six hours) up the trail, at Bhojbasa (3790m), there’s a GMVN Tourist Bungalow (Bhojbasa; dm ₹300) and other basic lodging; Gaumukh is 4 km which take 1½ hours.
On clear days, the best time to visit the source is early-to-mid-afternoon, when it’s out of the shadows. Porters (₹500 each way) and horses (one way/return ₹850/1250) can be hired in Gangotri. More ambitious hikers with their own gear often continue to the gorgeous meadow at Tapovan, 6km beyond Gaumukh.
Gaumukh Tapovan Trek
Before start trekking to Gaumukh, you have to get a permit, since access is limited to 150 people per day. You can take permit from the satellite office above the bus stand at Gangotri, which is open all days from 7am to 7pm.
At both places, you’ll need to bring a copy of your passport ID page and visa. The permit is valid for two days and costs ₹150/600 per Indian/foreigner (then ₹50/250 for each extra day).
Gangotri village has numerous numbers of guesthouses, ashrams and dharmsalas having ₹300 tariff or less per room. When hungry, follow the Indian families to the Hotel Gangaputra Restaurant (mains ₹45-100; h7am-11pm), which is busy for a good reason.
Buses run from Gangotri to Uttarkashi (₹110, six hours) and, during peak season, to Rishikesh (₹300, 12 hours). Share jeeps (₹150) and private taxis (one-way/ return ₹2500/3000) also run to Gangotri. To Rishikesh, shared jeeps/private taxis cost ₹300/4000.