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Author: Jaswant Singh Neki
Photographer: Sondeep Shankar
Publisher: UBS Publishers
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8174763759
Situated at a height of over 15,000 feet above the sea level in the Himalayan ranges of northern India, Sri Hemkunt Sahib has emerged as a popular centre of Sikh pilgrimage which is visited by thousands of devotees from all over the world every summer. According to Bachitra Natak, the autobiographical account of the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, it was at Hemkunt adorned with seven snow-clad peaks that he meditated in his previous birth.
It was during the thirties of the twenties century that the place was discovered by Sant Sohan Singh and Bhai Modan Singh. Bhai Vir Singh, Sikh savant 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 gurdwara at Hemkunt. Collective efforts of Sikh pioneers backed by the community support led to the construction of gurdwaras en route including Gobind Ghat (6000 feet) and Gobind Dham (10500 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 the icy cold water of the lake, the devotees can see rare brahm kamal flowers. Some of them also visit the world famous Valley of Flowers not far from Sri Hemkunt Sahib.