Hemkund Sahib – Highest Gurudwara in the World

From time anon, Uttarakhand has been an ‘Abode of Gods’ and a peaceful dwelling for several great sages and hermits who found enlightenment here. One such celestial place is Shri Hemkund Sahib, a popular Sikh pilgrimage site nestled by seven Herculean peaks and a mystic glacial lake right in front. This holy site is tucked away in the Himalayas at an elevation of over 14,500 ft. in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. One can see numerous cascading waterfalls, dense woods, a crystal clear lake and a holy Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara while visiting Hemkund.

Gurudwara at Hemkund- The highest Gurudwara of Sikh Community

Taking its seat at an elevation of 4,329 metres above sea level, the Gurudwara at Hemkund is the highest Gurudwara of Sikh community. It is idyllically situated on the shore of Hemkund. This star shaped Gurudwara is located at a distance of 6 km from Ghangaria and is made up of white marbles and concrete. The design and construction of the present gurudwara started in the mid-1960s after Major General Harkirat Singh, Engineer-in-Chief of Indian Army visited the gurudwara. For the design and construction work Architect Siali was chosen by Major General Harkirat Singh. After which he made annual trips to Hemkund Sahib and organized and supervised the complex construction.

Hemkund Sahib Opening Date 2017: Shri Hemkunt Sahib will open on 25 May 2017.
Hemkund Closing Date 2017: Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara Closing date for 2017 will be updated soon.

The Hemkund Lake and the Laxman Temple

Hemkund also referred to as ‘Hemkunt’ literally suggests ‘The Lake of Snow’ as the water of this lake is icy cold. On the pristine banks of this lake is the ancient Laxman temple which is considered to be sacred by many Hindu devotees. Both the holy sites lure many Hindu devotees belonging to different sects to pay obeisance here.
Highly revered by the Sikhs, Hemkund finds its mention in an autobiography poem ‘Bichitar Natak’ composed by the tent Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Govind Singh. In his poem, he describes an empyrean place cocooned in the Himalayas encircled by seven majestic peaks and a glacial lake, where he indulged in a prolonged penance and united with the Master (Akal Purakh) in his previous incarnation. However the credit of the discovery of Hemkund goes to Sant Tara Singh Narottam, Sardar Modan Singh and Sohan Singh with the help of Shri Nanda Singh Chauhan of Bhyundar village. Later Nanda Singh served as a Sewadar and Granthi in both Gurudwara of Hemkund and Ghangharia for 18 years.

The story behind the discovery of Hemkund

In 1932 when Sant Tara Singh Narottam visited here with some local residents of Pandukeshwar, he found that the place had an uncanny resemblance to the one mentioned in ‘Bichitar Natak’ of Guru Govind Singh. After returning, he told about this celestial place to Sant Sohan Singh who visited here in 1936 and since then it has become a famous tourist attraction and pilgrim place. Hemkund Sahib was declared as a major Sikh pilgrimage centre in 1936. But it was only after 1965 when people regularly thronged here in the form of ‘Jathas’ (a group of devotees from a particular place) to worship and perform Ardas (prayers) in Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib.

In the Hindu religious texts Hemkund is referred to as Lokpal, a holy shrine by the lake

According to the Hindu mythologies, Hemkund was locally named as ‘Lokpal’ the literal meaning of which is the “Almighty that cares people of the world”. The natives of Bhyundar village and other adjoining villages worship this site as a sanctum place of Laxman, the younger brother of Lord Rama. It is believed that Laxman meditated here in his previous birth as Sheshnag. The natives of Niti, Mana and Gamshali also came here to worship Lakshman and Vandevi, the Goddess of the Forest. Even today many devotees visit this place to seek the blessings from the Almighty. This is the only temple where the idol of Lakshman is kept alone, without having Lord Rama and Mata Sita by its side, unlike other Hindu temples. One can also see an eternal river flowing through this place along the path from Lokpal to Govindghat, known as Lakshman Ganga.