Yamunotri, the source of the Yamuna River and the seat of the goddess Yamuna, is one of the four sites in India's Char Dham pilgrimage.
The Yamunotri temple is located in Uttarkashi District of Uttarakhand, India, a full day's journey from Uttaranchal's main towns — Rishikesh, Haridwar or Dehradun.
The actual temple is only accessible by a six kilometer walk from the town of Hanuman Chatti and a four kilometer walk from Janki Chatti (horses or palanquins are available for rent). The hike from Hanuman Chetty to Yamunotri is very picturesque with beautiful views of a number of water falls. The original temple was built by Maharani Gularia of Jaipur in the 19th century. The current temple is of recent origin, as past iterations have been destroyed by the weather and elements. Lodging at the temple itself is limited to a few small ashrams and guesthouses. Ritual duties such as the making and distribution of prasad (sanctified offerings) and the supervision of pujas (ritual venerations) are performed by the Uniyal family of pujaris (priests). Unique aspects of ritual practice at the site include hot springs where raw rice is cooked and made into prasad.
Maharani Gularia of Jaipur built the temple in the 19th century. Destroyed by a major earthquake in 1923, it was subsequently rebuilt, then again damaged in 1982. It is located at a height of 3252 meters (10,700 feet), about 6 km below the glacier. The temple is dedicated to the river Yamuna, who is represented in the form of a silver idol, bedecked with garlands. Goddess Yamuna is the daughter of Surya, the sun God, and Sangya, the Goddess of consciousness. Yamuna is also the sister of Yama, the God of death, and so anyone bathing in the waters of the river is spared of a painful death.
Surya Kund is known for its thermal springs. The hot water pool here is used to prepare the prasad or holy offerings to the deity, which is normally rice and potatoes, cooked by tying the food in cloth bags and dipping it into the hot water which is as high as 190°F. Divya Shilla is a rock pillar that is worshipped by the pilgrims before they enter the Yamunotri temple.