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Hemkunt Sahib is a Sanskrit name derived from Hem ("Snow") and Kund ("bowl"). The Dasam Granth says God ordered Sikh Guru Gobind Singh to take birth while he was in deep meditation at the mount of Hemkunt.
Hemkund Sahib (also spelled Hemkunt) is a Sikh place of worship and pilgrimage site in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, India. It is devoted to Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666–1708), the tenth Sikh Guru, and finds mention in Dasam Granth, a work dictated by Guruji himself. With its setting of a glacial lake surrounded by seven mountain peaks, eachadorned by a Nishan Sahib on its cliff, it is according to the Survey of India located in the Himalayas at an elevation of 4,632 meters (15,197 feet). It is approached from Gobindghat on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway. The main town near Gobindghat is Joshimath.
According to Bachitra Natak, the autobiographical account of the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, it was at Hemkunt 'adorned with seven snow peaks' that he meditated in his previous birth.
It was during the thirties of the twentieth century that the place was discovered by Sohan Singh Ji, Bhai Modam Singh Ji, Bhai Vir Singh Ji, Sikh Sangat and a leading figure of the Singh Sabha movement, played an important role first in helping these two gentlemen by verifying for them the location of the place and later by providing financial support for building a gurudwara at Hemkunt. Collective efforts of Sikh pioneers backed by the community support led to the construction of gurudwaras on route including Gobind Ghat (6,000 feet) and Gobind Dham (10,500 feet).
In spite of difficult terrain where Hemkunt is situated, devotees from all over the world make it to this unique Sikh shrine every summer. On the way they also visit other important gurdwaras in Rishikesh, Srinagar and Joshimath.On their way back they pay homage at Paonta Sahib, Bhangani Sahib, Tirgarhi Sahib and Shergah Sahib Gurdwaras. Apart from enjoying scenic beauty of the snow-clad peaks and taking a dip into visit the world famous Valley of Flowers not far from Sri Hemkunt Sahib.
Hemkund is inaccessible from October through April because of snow bound paths and glaciers. Sikh pilgrims arrive in May and set to work to repair the damage to the path over the winter, which tradition is called kar seva ("work service"), a concept which forms an important tenet of the Sikh faith.
The take-off point for Hemkund Sahib is the town of Govindghat about 275 kilometres (171 mi) from Rishikesh. The 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) trek is along a reasonably well maintained path to the village of Govinddham (also called Ghangaria). This path can be covered either by walk or by pony and a Gurudwara here gives shelter to pilgrims. In addition there are a few hotels and a camp ground with tents and mattresses. A 1,100-metre (3,600 ft)climb on a 6-kilometre (3.7 mi) of stone paved path leads Hemkund. Overnight stay is not allowed at Hemkund Sahib and so it is necessary to leave by 2 or 3pm to make it back to Govindghat by nightfall.