Gangotri Glacier

Gangotri Glacier (Sanskrit,and Hindi: गंगोत्री) is located in Uttarkashi District, Uttarakhand, India in a region bordering Tibet. This glacier, one of the primary sources of the Ganges, is one of the largest in the Himalayas with an estimated volume of over 27 cubic kilometers.[1] The glacier is about 30 kilometres (19 miles) long and 2 to 4 km (1 to 2 mi) wide. Around the glacier are the peaks of the Gangotri Group, including several peaks notable for extremely challenging climbing routes, such as Shivling, Thalay Sagar, Meru, and Bhagirathi III. It flows roughly northwest, originating in a cirque below Chaukhamba, the highest peak of the group.

The terminus of the Gangotri Glacier is said to resemble a cow's mouth, and the place is called Gomukh or Gaumukh (gou, cow + mukh, face). Gomukh, which is about 19 km (11.8 mi) from the town of Gangotri, is the precise source of the Bhagirathi river, an important tributary of the Ganges. Gomukh is situated near the base of Shivling; in between lies the Tapovan meadow.

The Gangotri glacier is a traditional Hindu pilgrimage site. Devout Hindus consider bathing in the icy waters near Gangotri town to be a holy ritual, and many made the trek to Gomukh, with a few continuing on to Tapovan. One needs to trek from Gangotri till Gaumukh, passing Devgadh, Chirbhasa, Bhojwasa en route. Currently accommodation is available only at Bhojwasa, although forest check posts are present at both Chirbhasa and Bhowasa. The 2013 North Indian Floods destroyed much of this trail, and access is now a little difficult beyond Chirbhasa due to trail deterioration and a 2 km wide rockfall site.

Gaumukh (gangotri glaciar) may 28 2007
Gomukh the source of Ganga
Gomukh, terminus of the Gangotri glacier. The Bhagirathi peaks rise in the background.


Gaumukh Gangotri glacier
A small shrine at Gaumukh, Gangotri glacier.

It is a valley-type glacier, situated in the Uttarkashi district of Garhwal Himalaya, Uttarakhand(Figure 1) and it flows to NW direction. This glacier is bound between 30°43'22"–30°55'49" (lat.) and 79°4'41"–79°16'34" (long.), extending in height from 4120 to 7000 m.a.s.l. This area is situated north of the Main Central Thrust (MCT) and is made up of bedrocks of granites, garnet mica schist, quartz biotite schist, kyanite schist, augen gneiss and banded augen gneiss.[2] The glacier is composed of a variety of depositional features such as talus cones, snow-avalanche fans, snow-bridges, and dead ice mounds, and erosional features like pyramidal and conical peaks, serrated ridge crests, glacial troughs, smooth rock walls, crags and tails, waterfalls, rock basins, gullies and glacial lakes. All along the Gangotri glacier, several longitudinal and transverse crevasses are formed along which ice blocks have broken down. The ablation zone of the Gangotri glacier is covered by a thick pile of supraglacial moraines and is characterized by several ice sections, melting into pools of supraglacial lakes. Because of subsidence and the fast degenerating nature of the glacier, its centre is full of supraglacial lakes. In this part of higher Himalaya, glacial melt-water dominates the fluvial system.

The total ice cover is approximately 200 km² and has about 20 km³ of ice in volume.[3]


This glacier has three main tributaries, namely Raktvarn (15.90 km), Chaturangi (including Kalandini bamak) (22.45 km) and Kirti (11.05 km) and more than 18 smaller tributary glaciers The Raktvarn system contains 7 tributary glaciers; among them Thelu, Swetvarn, Nilambar and Pilapani are important. Similarly the Seeta, Suralaya and Vasuki are the major tributaries which make up the Chaturangi system, while the Kirti system is made up of only three tributary glaciers. Besides these three major tributary systems, some other tributary glaciers of this area drain directly into the Gangotri glacier; among them Swachand, Miandi, Sumeru and Ghanohim are important. Four other glaciers, Maitri, Meru, Bhrigupanth and Manda drain into the river Bhagirathi. The total glacierized area of the catchment is 258.56 km², out of which the Gangotri system comprises 109.03 km², followed by Chaturangi (72.91 km²), Raktvarn (45.34 km²) and Kirti (31.28 km²). The remaining four glaciers contain 29.41 km² of glacierized area; among them maximum contribution is Bhirgupanth glacier (14.95 km²).


Gangotri Glacier, retreat from 1780 to 2001
Retreat of Gangotri Glacier

NASA, in conjunction with scientists from United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), is developing a global inventory of all the world's glaciers to help researchers track each glacier's history. According to them, the Gangotri glacier, currently 30.2 km long and between 0.5 and 2.5 km wide, is one of the largest in the Himalayas. This glacier has been constantly receding since measurements began in 1780. Data for 61 years (1936–96) show that the total recession of Gangotri glacier is 1147 m, with the average rate of 19 m per year.[4] However, over the last 25 years of the 20th century it has retreated more than 850 meters (34 meters per year),[5] and 76 meters between 1996 and 1999 (25 meters per year).[6]

See also


  1. ^ Gyan Marwah. "Ganges - A River of No Return?". Retrieved 24 June 2007.
  2. ^ Metcalfe, R. P., Geol. Soc. London, 1993, 74, 495–509.
  3. ^ Vohra, C. P., in The Himalayas: Aspects of Change (eds Lall, J. S. and Moddie, A. D.), Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1981, pp 138–151.
  4. ^ Ajay K. Naithani, H. C. Nainwal, K. K. Sati and C. Prasad: Geomorphological evidences of retreat of the Gangotri glacier and its characteristics. Current Science, 2001, Vol. 80, No. 1, 87-94.
  5. ^ Sharma, M. C. and Owen, L. A., J. Quat. Sci. Rev., 1996, 15, 335–365.
  6. ^ article at Earth Observatory driven by NASA, found below a sat image illustration dated 2001


  • Bali, R., Awasthi, D.D. and Tiwari, N.K.2003 Neotectonic control on the geomorphic evolution of the Gangotri Glacier Valley, Garhwal Himalaya, Gondwana Research, 2003, Vol, 6 (4) pp. 829–838.
  • Awasthi, D.D., Bali, R. and Tiwari, N.K. 2004. Relative dating by lichenometric and Schmidt Hammer techniques in the Gangotri glacier valley, Uttarkashi District, Uttaranchal. Spl. Pub. Pal. Soc. Ind no. 2 pp. 201– 206.
  • Awasthi, D.D., Bali, R. and Tiwari, N.K. 2004. Growth rate of Lichen Dimelaena Orina in the Gangotri Glacier valley, Uttarkashi District, Uttaranchal: Some Significant Observations Geol. Sur. Ind. Spl. Pub. No. 80.
  • Singh, Dhruv Sen 2004. Late Quaternary Morpho-Sedimentary Processes in the Gangotri Glacier Area, Garhwal Himalaya, India. Geol Surv India Spl. Pub. No.80, 2004: 97-103.
  • Singh, Dhruv Sen and Mishra. A. 2002. Gangotri Glacier System, Garhwal Himalaya: An analysis using GIS technique. Aspects of Geology and Environment of the Himalaya. Edited by Pant, C. C. and Sharma, A. Gyanodaya Prakashan, Nainital, India, pp 349–358.
  • Singh, Dhruv Sen and Mishra. A. 2002. Role of Tributary glaciers on landscape modification in the Gangotri Glacier area, Garhwal Himalaya, India. Current Science, 82 (5), 101-105.
  • Singh, Dhruv Sen and Mishra, A. 2001. Gangotri Glacier characteristics, retreat and processes of sedimentation in the Bhagirathi valley. Geological Survey of India Spl. Pub.No.65 (III), 17-20.

External links

Coordinates: 30°50′N 79°10′E / 30.833°N 79.167°E


Chaukhamba is a mountain massif in the Gangotri Group of the Garhwal Himalaya. Its main summit, Chaukhamba I, is the highest peak in the group. It lies at the head of the Gangotri Glacier and forms the eastern anchor of the group. It is located in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, west of the Hindu holy town of Badrinath.

Chaukhamba has four summits, along a northeast-southwest trending ridge, and ranging in elevation from 7,138 metres (23,419 ft) to 6,854 m (22,487 ft) with an average elevation 7,014 m; the main summit is at the northeast end.

After unsuccessful attempts in 1938 and 1939, Chaukhamba I was first climbed on 13 June 1952, by Lucien George and Victor Russenberger (Swiss members of an otherwise French expedition). They ascended the northeast face, from the Bhagirathi-Kharak Glacier. The other members of the expedition were the French alpinist and traveler Marie-Louise Plovier Chapelle and the renown French alpinist and climber Edouard Frendo.

Chaukhamba I is an ultra-prominent peak, with a prominence of more than 1,500m. Mana Pass is the key col for Chaukhamba I.

Dakshin Gangotri

Dakshin Gangotri was the first scientific base station of India situated in Antarctica, part of the Indian Antarctic Programme. It is located at a distance of 2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi) from the South Pole. It is currently being used as a supply base and transit camp. The base is named after Dakshin Gangotri Glacier.

It was established during the third Indian expedition to Antarctica in 1983–84. This was the first time an Indian team spent a winter in Antarctica to carry out scientific works. The station was built in eight weeks by an 81-member team that included geologist Sudipta Sengupta. Construction was completed late into January 1984 with help from the Indian army and Indian Republic Day was celebrated at the station along with the Soviets and East Germans.

Dakshin Gangotri Glacier

The Dakshin Gangotri Glacier (70°45′S 11°35′E) is a small tongue of the polar continental ice sheet impinging on the Schirmacher Oasis of central Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. It was discovered by the Second Indian Expedition to Antarctica in 1983, and named for India’s first Antarctic research station. Since then its snout, and the area around it, has been regularly monitored and it has become a valuable site for tracking the impact of global warming through changes in the movement of the Antarctic ice sheet. The site is protected under the Antarctic Treaty System as Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) No.163.

Gangotri (disambiguation)

Gangotri is a town and pilgrimage centre in Uttarakhand, India].

Gangotri may also refer to:

Gangotri Bhandari (born 1956), former player of Indian Women's Hockey team

Gangotri Kujur, Indian politician

Gangotri Glacier, the source of Bhagirathi River

Gangotri (cow), a temple cow in Britain killed by the RSPCA

Gangotri (film), 2003 Telugu film directed by K. Raghavendra Rao

Gangothri (film), a 1997 Indian Malayalam film

Gangotri National Park, National park located in Uttarkashi District, Uttarakhand, India

Gangotri Group of mountains with peaks up to around 6,600 m AMSL, a subdivision of the Garhwal Himalaya in Uttarakhand, India, enclosing Gangotri Glacier

Dakshin Gangotri, Indian scientific base station in Antarctica

Dakshin Gangotri Glacier, Antarctic Specially Protected Area in the Schirmacher Oasis

Gangotri Group

The Gangotri Group of mountains is a subdivision of the Garhwal Himalaya in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. It rings the Gangotri Glacier, and contains peaks that are notable either for their religious significance to Hindus, for their difficult climbing routes, or both. Climbs on three of the peaks (Thalay Sagar, Shivling, and Meru) have resulted in the awarding of the prestigious (but controversial) climbing award, the Piolet d'Or.

Notable mountains include:

Chaukhamba (I-IV). A four-summitted massif; Chaukhamba I, 7,138 m (23,419 ft), is the highest peak in the group.

Kedarnath (Mountain), 6,940 m (22,769 ft), the highest peak on the southwest side of the glacier

Thalay Sagar, 6,904 m (22,651 ft), a steep rock spire, and perhaps the most difficult summit to attain in the entire group.

Shivling, 6,543 m (21,467 ft), another steep rock peak, with two summits, and the most striking as viewed from Gaumukh, the pilgrimage site at the mouth of the glacier. A symbol of the god Shiva, it is the most revered peak in the group.

Meru, 6,660 m (21,850 ft), lies between Thalay Sagar and Shivling, and has some highly challenging routes, only recently ascended despite multiple attempts by the world's best climbers.

Bhagirathi I: 6,856 metres (22,493 ft); II: 6,512 metres (21,365 ft); III: 6,454 m (21,175 ft)], peaks with moderate routes on the back sides, but huge steep-to-overhanging cliffs on the side facing the glacier. Bhagirathi III, in particular, has seen some of the most extreme rock climbing in the Himalaya.


Gomukh, also known as "Gaumukh" or "Gomukhi" (Hindi: गौमुख or गौमुखी ; Assamese and Bengali: গোমুখ or গোমুখী), is the terminus or snout of the Gangotri Glacier and the source of the Bhagirathi River, one of the primary headstreams of the Ganges River. The place is situated at a height of 13,200 ft (4,023 m) in Uttarkashi district in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is one of the largest in the Himalayas with an estimated volume of over 27 cubic kilometers. It is a popular Hindu pilgrimage site, along with Gangotri, as well as trekking destination. On 26 July 2016, following heavy rains in Uttarakhand, it was reported that the front end of Gomukh was no more, as a large chunk of the glacier had collapsed and was washed away. In 2013, due to cloud burst in Uttarakhand, huge cracks had emerged on the glacier.

The word "Gomukh/Gaumukh" (go/gau=cow, mukh= mouth) literally means "Mouth of a Cow." According to some sayings, earlier the snout exactly looked like the "Mouth of a Cow."

Great Himalayas

The Great Himalayas or Greater Himalayas (Hindi: महान हिमालय or हिमाद्रि) is the highest mountain range of the Himalayan Range System.This range is separated from Trans Himalaya mountain range by the Main Central Thrust Fault, and lies north of it.Entities the range is within include Pakistan, China, India, Nepal, and Tibet.The world's highest peak, Mount Everest, and other "near−highest" peaks-Kangchenjunga, K2, Lhotse, Nanga Parbat etc are part of the Greater Himalayas range. The total west to east extension of the great Himalayas is 2400 km(1500 miles) and their average elevation is 6000 m(20000 ft.). They are home to many glaciers like Gangotri Glacier, Satopanth Glacier etc.

Kalindi Pass

Kalindi pass, or Kalindi khal is a high altitude mountain pass connecting Gangotri and Gastoli. It is situated at 5,950 metres (19,520 ft) elevation and forms the most famous trekking pass of the Garhwal Himalaya.The pass is heavily glaciated. The glacier west of the pass flows into the Gangotri Glacier which forms the source of the Ganges.

Kedarnath (mountain)

Kedarnath (or Kedarnath Main) and Kedarnath Dome (or Kedar Dome) are two mountains in the Gangotri Group of peaks in the western Garhwal Himalaya in Uttarakhand state, India. Kedarnath (Main) lies on the main ridge that lies south of the Gangotri Glacier, and Kedarnath Dome, a subpeak of the main peak, lies on a spur projecting towards the glacier, two kilometres northwest of Kedarnath. They are at a distance 15 kilometres (9 mi) south of the Hindu holy site of Gaumukh (the source of the ganges River). Kedarnath is the highest peak on the south side of the Gangotri Glacier, and Kedarnath Dome is the third highest. Both peaks have relatively easy routes on their northwest sides, but the east face of Kedarnath Dome is a large, very difficult rock climb.

List of glaciers of India

Himalayan region of India is home of some of the most notable glaciers in the world. This is a list of the notable glaciers in India. Most glaciers lie in the states of Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Few glaciers are also found in Arunachal Pradesh.

Nilkantha (mountain)

Nilkantha (or Neelakant, Neelkanth, Nilkanth, Nilkanta) is a major peak of the Garhwal division of the Himalayas, in the Uttarakhand region of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Although substantially lower than the highest peaks of the region, it towers dramatically over the valley of the Alaknanda River and rises 3,474 metres (11,398 ft) above the Hindu pilgrimage site of Badrinath, only 9 km (6 mi) to the east. Frank Smythe described the peak as "second only to Siniolchu in Himalayan beauty."The Satopanth Glacier lies on the northwest side of Nilkantha, below a 2,500 m (8,200 ft) face of the peak. The Panpatia Glacier lies to the southwest, and feeds the Khirao Ganga, a stream running under the south side of the peak. Further away, to the west of the peak, lies the well-known Gangotri Glacier and its associated peaks. Across the Alaknanda valley lie the Kamet and Nanda Devi groups.

Rookery Islands

The Rookery Islands are a group of rocks and small islands in western Holme Bay, north of the David and Masson Ranges in Mac.Robertson Land in East Antarctica. The group contains breeding colonies of Adélie penguins, Cape petrels, snow petrels, southern giant petrels (which breed nowhere else in the region), Wilson's storm petrels and Antarctic skuas. The islands are protected under the Antarctic Treaty System as Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) No.102.

Satopanth Glacier

The Satopanth Glacier is situated in the Indian state of Uttarakhand.

The term ‘Satopanth’ is perhaps derived from two words – ‘Sat-o’ meaning of truth, and ‘Panth’ meaning path or way. So its literal meaning is the path of truth. The glacier is one of the popular glaciers of Uttarakhand. River Alaknanda took its origin in this glacier. Mountaineers consider it a bit tough to scale.

Scientists claim that the Satopanth Glacier is retreating, though not as fast as the Gangotri Glacier. So, a number of preventive measures have been taken. River Alaknanda took its origin in this glacier. Also, as the glacier lies quite near the Indo-Tibet Border, photography is strictly prohibited.

Shivling (mountain)

Shivling is a mountain at tapovan in the Gangotri Group of peaks in the western Garhwal Himalaya, near the snout of the Gangotri Glacier. It lies in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, 6 kilometres (4 mi) south of the Hindu holy site of Gaumukh (the source of the Bhagirathi River). Its name refers to its status as a sacred symbol -Shiva Linga. It was called "Matterhorn Peak" by early European visitors because of its similarity in appearance to that Alpine peak. While not of locally great elevation, it is a dramatic rock peak, and most visually striking peak seen from Gaumukh; that and the difficulty of the climb make it a famed prize for mountaineers.

Sumeru Parbat

Sumeru Parbat is a 6,350-metre (20,830 ft) high mountain in the Gangotri Glacier region of Garhwal Himalaya, Uttarakhand, India.The mountain is encircled by Kedarnath and Kedardome in the north, Kharchakund in the west & Mandani and Yanbuk in the south.

Svarthamaren Mountain

Svarthamaren Mountain is a prominent ice-free mountain or large nunatak on the east side of the mouth of Vestreskorve Glacier in the Muhlig-Hofmann Mountains of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. It was mapped from surveys and aerial photographs by the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition (1956–60) and named Svarthamaren ("black hammer").

Swami Sundaranand

Swami Sundaranand (born April, 1926 near Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, India) is a Yogi, photographer, author and mountaineer who lectures widely in India on threats to the Ganges River and the loss of Himalayan glaciers due to global warming.

Taylor Rookery

Taylor Rookery is an emperor penguin breeding colony on the Mawson Coast of Mac.Robertson Land in East Antarctica. It is the larger of the two known entirely land-based colonies of the species, most of which are situated on sea ice.

Thalay Sagar

Thalay Sagar is a mountain in the Gangotri Group of peaks in the western Garhwal Himalayas, on the main ridge that lies south of the Gangotri Glacier. It lies in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, 10 kilometres (6 mi) southwest of the Hindu holy site of Gaumukh (the source of the Bhagirathi River). It is the second highest peak on the south side of the Gangotri Glacier (after Kedarnath), but it is more notable for being a dramatic rock peak, steep on all sides, and a famed prize for mountaineers. It is adjacent to the Jogen group of peaks, and has the lake Kedartal at its base.

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