This small town is centered around a temple of the goddess Ganga, which was built by the Gurkha General Amar Singh Thapa in the late 18th or early 19th century. The temple is closed on Diwali day every year and is reopened in May. During this time, the idol of the goddess is kept at Mukhba village, near Harsil.
Ritual duties are supervised by the Semwal family of pujaris. The aarti ceremony at the Gangotri is especially impressive, as is the temple, a stately affair that sits on the banks of the rushing Ganga. Adventurous pilgrims can make an overnight 18 km trek to Gaumukh, the actual current source of the river Ganga.
According to this legend, King Sagar, after slaying the demons on earth decided to stage in Ashwamegh Yagya as a proclamation of his supremacy. The horse which was to be taken on an uninterrupted journey around the earth was to be accompanied by the King's 60,000 sons born to Queen Sumati and one son Asmanjas born of the second queen Kesani. Indra, supreme ruler of the gods feared that he might be deprived of his celestial throne if the 'Yagya' (worship with fire) succeeded and then took away the horse and tied it to the ashram of Sage Kapil, who was then in deep meditation. The sons of the King Sagar searched for the horse and finally found it tied near the meditating sage. Sixty thousand angry sons of King Sagar stormed the ashram of sage Kapil. When he opened his eyes, 60,000 sons had perished by the curse of sage Kapil. Bhagirath, grand son of King Sagar, is believed to have meditated to bring down the Ganga to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors and liberate their souls, granting them salvation or Moksha. The Bhagirathi 'Shila' is located near the temple of Ganga where the holy Ganga first descended on earth from heaven.
Dense forests near Tapovan surround the Bhavishya Badri. The Bhavishya Badri is at a distance of about 17 km. east of Joshimath. Pilgrims trek beyond Tapovan up the Dhauliganga River to reach this holy spot. The idol of narsingha (the god with the head of lion) is enshrined here. Traditionally, it is believed that a day will come when the present route to the Badrinath will be inaccessible and the Lord Badrinath will be worshipped here and this is why the place is called Bhavishya Badri.