Harsil (हरसिल) is a village on the banks of Bhagirathi River, on the way to Hindu pilgrimage, Gangotri. It is situated in the Uttarkashi district of Indian state of Uttarakhand). Situated at a height of 7,860 ft (2,620 mtrs.) from sea level, Harsil lies 73 km. from Uttarkashi, and 30 km away from Harsil, lies the Gangotri National Park, spread over 1,553 square km.
Located in the mountain district of Uttarkashi is the sylvan hamlet , known for scenic landscapes and delicious apples. Sat Tal or seven lakes, nearby ( 2 km ) are a not-to-be-missed attraction. The sleepy valley of Harsil is still an unexplored and less known destination.
Harsil was popular for the legend of ‘Pahari’ Wilson, or Raja Wilson. Frederick E. Wilson, an adventurer, deserted the British Army just after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. He escaped into Garhwal and met the Raja of Tehri seeking refuge. But the Raja was faithful to the British and refused to accommodate Wilson. Wilson moved into the mountains to escape detection. Fate landed him in Harsil, a remote beautiful village on the banks of the Bhagirathi river, with dense deodar slopes on either side. Wilson married a very beautiful pahari girl by the name of Gulabi. Then Wilson entered into a contract with a London-based company and built a fortune out of the export of skins, fur and musk. This was the time the British were building the Railways in India and there was great demand for quality wooden sleepers for the rails. Wilson cashed in on this and sent huge cut deodar trees floating down the river to the plains.
According to journalists Hugh & Colleen Gantzer, Wilson built a double-storeyed mansion in the village of Harsil on a deodar trunk frame filled with roughly dressed stones. But the ghost part of Wilson, comes with his building a swing bridge across the Bhagirathi. Wilson’s bridge has long since collapsed, but traces of it still remain. It was never rebuilt and today pilgrims walk down and cross a small footbridge on their way to Gangotri. But according to the locals, on moonlit nights one can still see the courageous Raja Wilson galloping down the area, where the bridge had been, in order to make the unwilling pilgrims have faith in his (alas) long vanished creation. Today a 410-feet iron bridge spans the river Jadganga.
Delhi-Hardwar-Harsil Ridge (DHHR), the basement ridge is a northerly extension of the Aravalli Mountain Belt, which also trends in a NNE-SSW direction and stretches from Amba Mata-Deri (Gujarat-Rajasthan) to Delhi via Ajmer and Jaipur .
Over the years, a small number of Jadhs, an ethinic group of the Bhotiyas, have settled here, and speak a language closely resembling Tibetan.
The idol of the Hindu River Goddess Ganga (Ganges) is brought down from the shrine at Gangotri in the upper Himalayas after Diwali and kept at ‘Mukhba’ village near Harsil. It remains there throughout the winter when Gangotri is snowbound and inaccessible.
Ancient coins and wollens
Only local eating places (dhabas) are available. Non-vegetarian food and alcoholic drinks are prohibited in Gangotri.
No Alcohol permitted here. Instead, drink plenty of natural mineral water full of medicinal values.