Hemkund or Hemkunt is a pilgrimage site for Sikhs in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, India. With a setting of a glacial lake surrounded by seven mountain peaks and each peak is adorned by a Nishan Sahib on its cliff, it is located in the Himalayas.
Hemkund is famous for the Sikh worship-place Gurudwara, known as Sri Hemkunt Sahib Ji, devoted to Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666-1708), the tenth Sikh Guru, which finds mention in Dasam Granth, a piece of work narrated by Guru Gobind Singh Ji,Himself. The lake also has a Lakhmana hut on its shore which was later built into proper small shrine by the Sikhs. It is accessible only by foot from Gobindghat on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway.
Bachitira Natak is an autobiographical account of incarnated life of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji as a powerful youth who was called into existence during Sat Yug, the 'era of truth' (the first of four ages according to Hindu mythology) to do battle with fierce demons that terrorized mortals and gods including Hindu deities and gods. When they had been destroyed, the youth, known as Dusht Daman, the 'destroyer of evil', was instructed to go to Hemkunt Sapatsring to meditate until he was called upon by God. Guru Gobind Singh's own account in Bachitra Natak completes this story. After realizing his oneness with God through meditation and austere discipline, he was reborn in Kal Yug, the 'age of darkness', as the son of the ninth Guru and his wife. Later, after his father's martyrdom, he became the tenth and final living Guru of the Sikhs. Hemkund is inaccessible because of snow from October through April. Each year the first Sikh pilgrims arrive in May and set to work to repair the damage to the path over the winter. This Sikh tradition is called kar seva ("work service"), a concept which forms an important tenet of the Sikh faith of belonging to and contributing to the community.
The take-off point for Hemkund 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 Ghangaria. There is another Gurudwara where pilgrims can spend the night. In addition there are a few hotels and a campground 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. There are no sleeping arrangements at Hemkund so it is necessary to leave by 2 pm to make it back to Govindghat by nightfall.
Map of Uttarakhand