On the western side of Garhwal Himalayas, in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, lies the holy place of Yamunotri. Yamuna, the second most sacred river of India, originates in Yamunotri, making it one of the most sought after pilgrimage sites in the Chota Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. The venerated goddess Yamuna is said to be the daughter of Sun and twin sister of Yama (the god of death); in Vedas, Yamuna is called Yami (lady of life).
A bath in the sanctified waters of Yamuna is said to cleanse all sins and protect from untimely or painful death. The holy abode of Goddess Yamuna is situated near the foot of Kalind Parbat (peak) and on a side of Banderpoonch Parbat. Nestled in the intimidating Himalayas, Yamunotri temple is believed to be constructed by the king of Tehri, Naresh Sudarshan Shah in 1839.
One of the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage sites, the stunning setting of the temple is enough to fill the hearts of the devotees with wonder. Yamuna River jets down from one side of the temple, which houses Goddess Yamuna in the form of a black marble idol. Ganga Devi too finds her place, in white stone, by the side of Yamuna.
The temple of Yamuna closes its portals as winter approaches on Yama Dwitiya (second day after Diwali or on Bhai Dooj).
Devi's winter address is Kharsali village where she reaches in a palanquin and will remain for the entire period of winters.
On Akshaya Tritiya (occurring on April/May), the goddess comes back to grace Yamunotri again. Both closing and opening ceremonies of the Yamunotri shrine are brought about with celebrations, elaborate rituals and Vedic chants.
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