Uttarkashi is 165km from Rishikesh. Even the lowest region there is 5,800 ft above sea level. It is surrounded by a mountain range called Varanavata. The tributaries of the river Bhageerathi flow around the mountain tract like two hands hugging the plains. At the central point in the plain, almost like the lap of the mountain tract, is Ujeli. It is here that Tapovan Kuti lies, the home of Swami Tapovan Maharaj. Built in 1936 by some of his devotees, its location is truly unique. The river Bhageerathi flows at the foot of the mountain giving out a soothing pranava sound that can be heard in Tapovan Kuti. It was a small, spartan one-room hut and a cattle shed. The kutia today is exactly the way Swamiji left it. The mud-walled, dung-floor hut contains his cot and kamandalu (water pot) and little else. But the little verandah outside the hut, where the Mahatma would sit and give Vedantic discourses, has been converted into a shrine. Devotees speak in hushed tones of profound experiences while meditating there. It is here that Pujya Gurudev, Swami Chinmayananda spent a total of seven years studying at the feet of his teacher.
Recently the capacity of Tapovan Kuti was increased. A 3-storey building, Tapovan Chinmayam was inaugurated on 15 March 2005 by Swami Tejomayananda. It has twenty four self contained rooms with balconies all having breathtaking views.
Today the ashram can house around 130 people. The satsang hall in the ground floor of Tapovan Chinmayam can comfortably seat around 300 people. A large white marble murthi of Lord Jagadeeshwara with Goddess Saraswati and Lord Ganesha on either side graces the stage. Portraits of Swami Tapovanji Maharaj and Pujya Gurudev look on. The foyer is dedicated to a pictorial life sketch of Swami Tapovanji Maharaj.
Tapovan Kuti is a popular site for spiritual camps and retreats organized by the Mission Acharyas. Students taking the Vedanta course at the Mission's Sandeepany Ashrams are treated to a month or two at this retreat, where their study is doubtless deepened by the divine vibrations all about them.
In the village is the temple of Vishwanath, the Lord of Uttarkashi. There is a svayambhu linga in this temple, tilted slightly to the right side. This temple is also known as Sowmya Kashi. In fact monks in the Himalayas referred to Swami Tapovanam himself as the Spiritual Bird of Sowmya Kashi - a bird possessed of the freedom and strength needed to reach great heights.