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Glaciers in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is the perfect holiday destination for tourists seeking a place to relax and rejuvenate themselves in the lap of nature. The glaciers in Uttarakhand form a significant part of the tourist attractions. Some have attained a sacred status, while some are noted for their sheer magnificence.

Blessed with the arduous topography, vivid terrains, and lush green vegetation, the glaciers of Uttarakhand attract avid adventure lovers and thrill-seekers. Bunder Poonch, Pindari, Gangotri, Sunderdhunga, Doonagiri, Dokhriani, Khatling, and Kafni are famous glaciers in Uttarakhand. 

These mountain glaciers are highly popular among trekkers and hikers. In addition, some pristine glaciers are also the source of the major water bodies of the country. 

List of Most Famous Glaciers in Uttarakhand

Satopanth Glacier

The Satopanth Glacier in Uttarakhand is one of the important glaciers from a tourism point of view. This glacier originates at the height of 7,000 m above sea level from the peaks of the Chaukhamba (7,068 m) and the Badrinath (6,974 m) mountains.

Located merely 17 km from the widely renowned temple of Badrinath in the Chamoli District. Satopanth Glacier and Bhagirath - Kharak Glacier originates in the upper Alaknanda basin. And serve as a water source for the river Alaknanda. These glaciers draw numerous tourists to Uttarakhand. 

Spreading over a vast expanse of 13 km, this glacier melts into the water at an altitude of 3,810 m above sea level. This glacier can be approached from Joshimath in the Chamoli sub-division by following the Badrinath and Mana (3,128 m) road. From Mana, the route follows the course of the Alaknanda River. At an elevation of 145 km, on the route, you will come across a waterfall named Vasudhara, lying on the right bank of the Alaknanda River. The snout of Satopanth Glacier opens at about 5 km upwards from Vasudhara. 2 km down the valley, the left bank of the river offers the perfect conditions for camping in Uttarakhand.

Gangotri Glacier

Located in the Garhwal Himalayas, in Uttarkashi district, the Gangotri Glacier is not a single valley glacier. However,  It is a combination of several glaciers, which are fed into the main glacier and form a huge chunk of ice. 

One of the holiest glaciers of Uttarakhand, the Gangotri Glacier, has a special significance in India's history and the history of Hinduism. Famous for being the source of the River Ganges, one of the most sacred rivers of India, a tour to the Gangotri Glacier is considered one of the important pilgrimages that a devout Hindu should undertake. 

These glaciers include Hrigupanth (6772 m), Kirti Stambh (6285 m), Sumeru Parvat (6380 m) respectively, and Ratavana Bamak, Chaturanga Bamak, and Swachand Bamak. This holy glacier is known for its smooth surface except in certain places where ice walls and crevices have developed over the ages. The route which leads to the Gangotri Glacier is picturesque and culminates in reaching the famous Gangotri Temple, one of the most respected temples in Uttarakhand.

Dokriani Glacier

One of the most important glaciers of the Bhagirathi basin, the Dokriani Bamak, is a medium-sized glacier. It is formed by two cirques, the Draupadi-Ka-Danda and Jaonli peaks. It is located around 5,600 m and 6,000 m above sea level. The Dokriani glacier also gives rise to a stream known as Dingad. After meeting several other snow-fed streams across its path, it finally merges into the River Bhagirathi.

Dokriani Bamak is a haven for trekkers and a must-visit place while on tour to Uttarakhand, which assembles worldwide. It also offers adequate camping facilities and can be visited in almost any season. Autumn and summer find the Dokriani Bamak in the best of appearances. Thus, if you are planning a holiday in Uttarakhand during the time, make sure you pay a visit to the Dokriani Bamak.

Doonagiri Glacier

A significant glacier of the Dhauli Ganga system, Doonagiri Glacier attracts tourists and adventure enthusiasts. A stream originates from this glacier and merges into Dhauli Ganga near the Juma village. Doonagiri Glacier in Uttarakhand runs for, extending between elevations of 5,150 m at its head to 4,240 m at its snout, which is the terminal point of the glacier. 

It can be accessed from Juma to Joshimath-Malari road. The Doonagiri village lies at a distance of about 8 km from Juma. And from the town, a 12 km long foot-trek path runs along the Doonagiri stream to reach the glacier's snout. While on a trip to Doonagiri, you can also visit the Bagini Glacier, lying in the same valley. There is a decent place for camping in the vicinity of the Doonagiri glacier. The best time to visit the glacier is from May to the middle of October.

Khatling Glacier

A lateral glacier, the Khatling Glacier, is located at the source of the River Bhilangana, with Sahasratal and Masartal on the western and eastern edges of the glacier, respectively. This is a trekker's paradise and definitely one of the notable tourist attractions of Uttarakhand. A trekking expedition to the region is conducted through some of the most picturesque locales in the world, scattered with dense forests of conifers and cascading waterfalls turning almost frothy as they travel through their mountainous paths.

Maiktoli Glacier

Maiktoli Glacier on the west of Pindari Glacier is one of the most sought-after destinations for trekkers and adventure freaks. It is one of the beautiful glaciers in Uttarakhand that offer a blend of beauty and thrill. Walk amidst the dense woodlands and hilly terrains from the base camp of Song to reach the stunning Maiktoli Glacier. 

The crimson rays of the sun on this glacier add a different color to the entire surrounding. Enjoy this breathtakingly beautiful place nestled amidst the snowy Garhwal Himalayas. It is the source of the Sunderdhunga River, which forms the Sunderdhunga Khal on the southern slope of the Pindari Glacier. This river, later on, joins the Pindar River. The distance from the base camp of Song to the Maiktoli Glacier is 44 km.

Tipra Bamak Glacier

Tipra Bamak is one of the most-visited glaciers in Uttarakhand. The local name for the glacier is Bamak, and this is the primary reason it is also known as Tipra Bamak. This glacier runs for 6 km in the Bhyundar Ganga basin in the catchment area of the Alaknanda River. Almost 16 glaciers varying in sizes and shapes run in this basin. However, out of these, only Tipra Bamak and the adjoining Ratanban glaciers are significant.

The melted waters of the Tipra Glacier and Ratanban Glacier emerge from a single ice cave located at the snout of Tipra Bamak. This glacier is accessible through Joshimath-Badrinath road, which will take you to Govind Ghat. Upon reaching Govind Ghat, you must follow an 18 km bridle path that runs via Bhyundar village up to Ghangaria. A further 4 km will lead you to the famous Valley of Flowers at the foothills of the Kagbhusandi mountain ranges. Ghangaria is the only place to put up tents while visiting Tipra Bamak. The best time to embark on a trip to Tipra Glacier is from the middle of June to the center of October.

Bandarpunch Glacier

Located at an altitude of around 6,316 m, the Bandarpunch Glacier in Uttarakhand is a product of three cirque glaciers. The glacier is highly significant as it acts as one of the prime freshwater sources for the Yamuna basin. Bandarpunch Glacier is around 12 km long and spread all along the Yamunotri glacier, Swargarohini peak, and Kalanag peak.

Owing to the fantastic spread of Bandarpoonch, the glacier offers excellent trekking opportunities. Enthusiasts can start trekking in the summer months of May and June. During this time, the trek to Bandarpoonch usually gets covered with freshly bloomed flowers, making the route more scenic. The Trek route to the Bandarpunch glacier in Uttarakhand goes through Sankri-Saur, Taluka, Osia, and Ruinsara Tal. The region is also renowned as one of the best high-altitude camping sites in the state.

Kafni Glacier

Kafni Glacier in Uttarakhand is famous for its breathtakingly beautiful landscape. Nestled amidst the Himalayas, the Kafni Glacier lies on the left side of the Pindar Valley underneath the famous Nandakot Peak. Covered with colorful rhododendron flowers, the Kafni Glacier is one of the most beautiful places in Uttarakhand. This glacier is an idyllic destination for adventure freaks and allures trekkers.

Amidst the tranquil surroundings, the snowy Himalayas, and the blue sky lies the beautiful Kafni Glacier. Compared to the Pindar Valley, the Kafni Glacier is much broader. One can take the route from Dwali via Byali Udiyar, which is 8 km from Dwali. However, there are no rest houses or accommodation facilities beyond Dwali. So, tourists have to stay in tents in Byali Udiyar during their trek.

Chorabari Glacier

Located in the district of Rudraprayag, Chorabari Glacier is one of the most important glaciers in Uttarakhand. It is also among the most popular tourist attractions of Uttarakhand. Chorabari Glacier originates from the southern slope of the Kedar-dome. And it is separated from the other glaciers of the Gangotri group by a range of hills. 

The glacier begins from its accumulation zone at around 600 m above sea level. It terminates at an elevation of 3,800 m above sea level, after which it gives birth to the River Mandakini. This is a river that holds immense significance in the history of Hinduism. The River Mandakini later merges into the river Alaknanda, another significant river of India at Rudraprayag. The glacier is also located near a lake formed by the melted snow of the Chorabari Glacier, which is known as the Gandhi- Sarovar.

Nanda Devi Group of Glacier

Nestled amidst the Himalayas, the Nanda Devi Group of Glaciers is large and beautiful. Tourists can explore the spectacular Nanda Devi Group of Glaciers, known for its sheer beauty and inaccessibility. The main glaciers of this group are the Nanda Devi North and South Glaciers. Created from the Nanda Devi Peak at the height of 7,108 m above sea level. 

They are the source of several rivers that have flourished in the river valleys of India. A tour of Uttarakhand Glaciers will reveal a lot more about the source of these rivers, which are tucked away high above at a great altitude.

Besides these two glaciers, the Nanda Devi Group of Glaciers also has a number of other glaciers called Trishul, Kururntoli, Nandakna, Bartoli, and Ramani. Trekkers and adventure tourists have braved the fury of nature through all these years to get a glimpse of these pristine and white beauties isolated in the serene valleys of the mountains. Walk amidst the green Alpine valleys and pine forests and the rippling rivers and gorges to watch the magnificent Nanda Devi Group of Glaciers, which spreads over 19 km in Uttarakhand.

Pindari Glacier

Nestled at an enormous elevation of 3,860 m above sea level, Pindari Glacier is situated on the left side of the Kafni Glacier. This glacier is the primary source of the Pindari River, which meets with the Alaknanda River at Karnaprayag and forms Alaknanda. The trekking trail to Pindari Glacier is blessed with numerous species of flora and fauna. This is among the most popular treks in Uttarakhand and also the easiest. However, the trekking route to Pindari Glacier is long but worthwhile, leaving everyone spellbound by the scenic landscapes. 

Located amidst Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot mountains, the Pindari Glacier trek is a perfect opportunity for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts to explore the offbeat destination of Uttarakhand. Pindari Glacier is lying on the edge of the Nanda Devi, India's highest peak. The Zero Point of the glacier is situated at a staggering altitude of 3,660 m above sea level and 5 km from Phurkia. 

Milam Glacier

Milam Glacier is the source of the Gori Ganga River, which is the major tributary of the Kali River. Lying at Mount Trishuli, Milam Glacier is nestled at an altitude of 3,438 m above sea level. The trek to Milam Glacier offers an enchanting view of the serene environs. The glacier trail passes through verdant meadows, lush greenery, quaint villages, glistening waterfalls, and wooden bridges. 

One of the remotest glaciers of Uttarakhand is also easily accessible, which makes it a paradise for trekkers and hikers. Enjoy the captivating views of the snow-capped mountains, varied flora and fauna, and green landscapes. Milam Glacier Trek is a long yet rewarding and adventurous journey that trekkers must undertake to witness the glorious peaks of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand.

Bagini Glacier

Seated at an altitude of 4,515 m above sea level in the Garhwal Himalayas, Bagini Glacier is located near Joshimath town of Chamoli district. The trek to this high-altitude glacier is not easy and not a cup of tea for beginners. It requires stamina and skills to reach this glacier due to the complex and steep trails and high altitude. However, this trek offers the opportunity to walk on the icy river and witness the breathtaking views of the Dunagiri, Kalanka, and Changabang peaks. 

The trek starts from the base of Jumma village, which is located in the lap of the Changabang and Trishul peaks. The trek is 40 km from Jumma Village. 

Spot some of the rare alpine flowers during the trek and enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the high-altitude mountains. The smell of the alpine flowers and the raw feelings amidst the mighty Himalayas can leave anyone captivated and stunned.

Sunderdhunga Glacier

Surrounded by the serenity of the Himalayas, Sunderdhunga Glacier is one of India's most popular tourist destinations. It is situated on the right side of the Pindar Valley, and the trek to the glacier offers picturesque views, which guarantee to charm the visitors. 

A visit to the Sunderdhunga Glacier is the perfect way of experiencing the magnetic attraction of the scenic brilliance in and around Uttarakhand. The trek to Sunderdhunga Glacier is not easy, and the trail offers soul refreshing views of the picturesque glaciers, dense pines, and old cedar trees, which makes it a surreal place to visit.


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FAQs about Glaciers in Uttarakhand

Q: How many glaciers are there in Uttarakhand?

Ans. Uttarakhand has around 1,439 glaciers, covering an area of around 4,000 square kilometers.

Some famous glaciers in the Kumaon region are -

  • Milam Glacier
  • Sunderdhunga Glacier
  • Pindari Glacier
  • Maiktoli Glacier
  • Kafni Glacier

Some famous glaciers in the Garhwal region are -

  • Doonagiri Glacier
  • Nanda Devi Group of Glacier
  • Tipra Bamak Glacier
  • Gangotri Glacier
  • Bandarpunch Glacier
Q: Which is the largest glacier in Uttarakhand?

Ans. The source of the Ganga River, Gangotri Glacier is the largest glacier in Uttarakhand, and the second-largest in India.

Q: Which is the second largest glacier in Uttarakhand?

Ans. Milam is the second largest glacier in the Kumaon region, Uttarakhand. The largest glacier in the state is Gangotri Glacier. Other important glaciers of the state are the Chorabari Glacier, Dokriani Glacier, Bagni and Drunagiri Glaciers, Kamet group of Glaciers, and others.

Q: Where is the glacier in Uttarakhand?

Ans. The 1,439 glaciers of Uttarakhand are found either in the Garhwal region or the Kumaon region. However, the glaciers are primarily found in the mountain ranges of the Satopanth Group, Nanda Devi Group, Kamet Group, Bandarpunch Group, Gangotri Group, and Dhauliganga Group.