According to an old legend, Lord Shiva rewarded King Bhagirath after his penance and Ganga came down to earth. However, due to her pride, and the fact that the earth would be devastated if Ganga came down in her full force, Lord Shiva caught her in his locks. It was then proclaimed that Goddess Uma or Parvati, Shiva's consort, would bathe in the Ganges daily and only then would she descend on the earth. The sacred stone near the temple denotes the place where Ganga first came down to earth. This is why Ganga is also called by the name of Bhagirathi. Gangotri, the source of the river Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Char Dham Pilgrimage Yatra circuit. The temple was constructed in the early 18th century by a Gorkha Commander Amar Sigh Thapa The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri.
Couched in the magnificent Garhwal hills, Gangotri is at an altitude of 3048 meters above sea level. It is on the northernmost part of the state of Uttra Khand and is very near the Indo-Tibetan border. It is approximately 300 km from Dehradun, 250 km from Rishikesh and 105 km from Uttarkashi. The summers are relatively cool and winters are freezing cold, with rains in the months of May and June. For the devotees and tourists, the gates of the temple are open only in the months of May to November.
: As the legend goes, King Bhagirath used to worship Lord Shiva at the sacred stone, near which this 18th century temple is located. The slab on which King Bhagirath is believed to have meditated is called Bhagirathi Shila. The mother Ganga is worshipped as Goddess and the holy river in the temple. Before performing the Puja rituals, a holy dip in the Ganga flowing nearby the temple is a must. The Pujari's (priest) belong to Brahmin community from Mukhwa village. Ten of them are selected by rotation every year to perform all the functions covering the temple and they also perform the duties of pandas.ation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form.