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Glaciers in Uttarakhand

Glaciers in Uttarakhand reside at the northern most part of the Uttarakhand region. Some have attained a sacred status, while some are noted for their sheer magnificence.  Important glaciers to look out for in Uttarakhand are Bunder Poonch, Pindari, Gangotri, Sunderdhunga, Doonagiri, Dokhriani, Khatling and Kaphini. These mountain glaciers are highly popular among the tourists, especially trekkers and hikers.  Some of the glaciers in Uttarakhand also act as gateways to the higher ranges of Himalayas.

List of Some of the Most Important Glaciers in Uttarakhand

Satopanth Glacier

Nestled at the foothills of the mighty Himalayas in the northern part of India, Uttarakhand is the perfect holiday destination for tourists seeking for a place to relax and rejuvenate themselves, in the lap of nature. Tourist attractions in Uttarakhand include renowned pilgrim destinations, idyllic hill stations, wildlife sanctuaries, several glaciers, passes, meadows, and trekking routes. Glaciers in Uttarakhand form a major part of the tourist attractions in the state. The Satopanth Glacier in Uttarakhand is one of the important glaciers from the tourism point of view.

Satopanth Glacier and Bhagirathi - Khark Glacier originating in the upper Alaknanda basin, serve as a water source for the river Alaknanda. Located merely 17 km from the widely renowned temple of Badrinath, in the Chamoli District, these glaciers draw numerous tourists to Uttarakhand.

The term 'Satopanth' is perhaps derived from two words - 'Sato' meaning heaven, and 'Panth' meaning path or way. Satopanth Glacier originates at a height of 7000 meters from the peaks of the Chaukhamba (7068m) and the Badrinath (6974m) mountains.

Spreading over a vast expanse of 13 km, this glacier melts into water at an altitude of 3810 meters.

The Satopanth Glacier can be aproached from Joshimath in the Chamoli sub-division, by following the Badrinath and Mana (3128m) 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 water fall 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 kms down the valley, the left bank of the river offers good conditions for camping.

Gangotri Glacier

One of the holiest glaciers of Uttarakhand, the Gangotri Glacier has a special significance in the history of India as well as 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 to be one of the important pilgrimages that a devout Hindu should undertake. A trekker’s paradise, the Gangotri Glacier is one of the most important tourist attractions of Uttarakhand and a definite must visit while on a tour to Uttarakhand.

Located in the Garhwal Himalayas, in the district of Uttarkashi, the Gangotri Glacier is not a single valley glacier but a combination of a number of glaciers, which are fed into the main glacier and end up forming a huge chunk of ice.

These glaciers include Hrigupanth (6772m), Kirti stambh (6285), Sumeru Parvat (6380) respectively and Ratavana Bamak, Chaturangi Bamak and Swachand Bamak. Easily approachable, the Gangotri Glacier is known for its smooth surface, which allows a smooth flow 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 to reach 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, formed by two circques, the Draupadi-Ka-Danda and Jaonli peak, located around 5600 m and 6000 m respectively above the sea level. The Dokriani glacier also gives rise to a stream known as Dingad, which after meeting several other snow fed streams across its path finally merges into the River Bhagirathi near a picturesque village of the region known as Bukki.

Easily approachable from the district of Uttarkashi, the road which leads to the Dokriani Bamak is almost as picturesque as the destination itself! A definite must visit while on a tour to Uttarakhand, the Dokriani Bamak is a haven for trekkers who assemble in the region from all around the world. It also offers adequate camping facilities and can be visited in almost any of the seasons. Autumn and summer finds the Dokriani Bamak in the best of appearances and thus, if you are planning a holiday in Uttarakhand during the time, make sure you a pay a visit to the Dokriani Bamak.

Doonagiri Glacier

A major glacier of the Dhauli Ganga system of glaciers, Doonagiri Glacier is largely frequented by tourists and adventure enthusiasts visiting Uttarakhand. The Dhauli Ganga system comprises more than 500 glaciers of different shapes and sizes, flowing through the deep and narrow valleys. Some of the other important glaciers here include the Changbang, Girthi Hoti and Niti glaciers.

Doonagiri Glacier in Uttarakhand runs for 5.5.km, extending between elevations of 5150 m at its head, to 4240 m at its snout, which is the terminal point of the glacier. A stream originates from this glacier and merges into Dhauli Ganga near the Juma village.

Doonagiri Glacier, Uttarakhand can be accessed from Juma, on the way to Joshimath-Malari road. The Doonagiri village lies at a distance of about 8 km from Juma, and from the village, a 12 km long foot-trek path runs along the Doonagiri stream, to reach the snout of the glacier. While on trip to Doonagiri, you can also visit the Bagini Glacier lying in the same valley. Doonagiri is the last village in the valley.

There is a decent place for camping in the vicinity of the Doonagiri glacier. The best time to visit the glacier is from the middle of May to the middle of October.

Khatling Glacier

Surrounded by the serenity of the Himalayas and abundant in the picturesque locales which defines tourism in Uttarakhand, the province, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations of India offers a number of attractions, which guarantee to charm the visitor to the land. A visit to Uttarakhand is perhaps incomplete without a visit to some of the famous glaciers of Uttarakhand, notable among which is the Khatling Glacier.

A trekker's paradise, the Khatling Glacier is a definitely one of the notable tourist attractions of Uttarakhand, even for tourists who do not have a passion for trekking.

Surrounded by picturesque locales, a visit to the Khatling Glacier is the perfect way of experiencing the magnetic attraction of the scenic brilliance in and around Uttarakhand. A number of trekking activities are arranged in and around the Khatling Glacier by both government as well as private agencies.

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. 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

Uttarakhand is the land of green meadows, beautiful hill stations and, pristine white and icy glaciers. Amongst the glaciers in Uttarakhand, Maktoli Glacier on the west of Pindari Glacier is one of the most sought after destinations of trekkers and adventure freaks. A 5 kilometer long glacier, Maktoli Glacier is one of the most beautiful destinations of the Uttarakhand trekking spots.

Walk amidst the dense woodlands and hilly terrains from the base camp of Song to reach the beautiful Maktoli 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.

The Maktoli Glacier 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 Maktoli Glacier is 44km.

Tiprabamak Glacier

Tiprabamak Glacier is one of the most-visited glaciers in Uttarakhand. The local name for the Tiprabamak glacier is 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, but out of these, only Tiprabamak and the adjoining Ratanban glaciers are of significance.

The melted waters of the Tiprabamak Glacier and Ratanban Glacier emerge from a single ice cave located at the snout of Tiprabamak. The glacier surface is dominated by heavy deposits of debris.

Tiprabamak Glacier is accessible through Joshimath-Badarinath road, which will take you to Govind-Ghat. Upon reaching Govind Ghat, you must follow a 18 km bridle path which runs via Bhiundhar village up to Ghangaria. A further 4 km will lead you to the famous Valley of Flowers at the foothills of the Kagbhusndi mountain ranges. Ghangaria is the only place to put up tents while visiting Tiprabamak Glacier.

The best time to embark on a trip to Tiprabamak Glacier is from the middle of June to the middle of October.

Bandarpunch Glacier

Located at an altitude of around 6316 m, Bandarpunch glacier in the Uttarakhand region of India is a joint product of three cirque glaciers. The glacier is highly significant as it acts as one of the prime sources of fresh water for the Yamuna basin. Bandarpunch glacier is around 12 km long and spread all along the Yamunotri glacier, Sworgarohini peak and Kalanag peak.

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

Kafni Glacier

Kaphini Glacier in Uttarakhand is famous for its breathtakingly beautiful serene. Nestled amidst the Himalayas, the Kaphini Glacier lies on the left side of the Pindar Valley underneath the famous Nandakot Peak.

Covered with the colorful rhododendron flowers, the Kaphini Glacier is one of the beautiful places in Uttarakhand. Kaphini Glacier has allured trekkers and adventure tourists to this paradise which is the idyllic destination for the adventure freaks.

Amidst the tranquil surroundings, snowy Himalayas and the blue sky lies the beautiful Kaphini Glacier. Compared to the Pindar Valley, the Kaphini Glacier is much broader.

One can take the route from Dwali via Byali Udiyar which is 8km from Dwali. There are no rest houses or accommodation facilities beyond Dwali. One has to stay in the tents in Byali Udiyar.

Chorabari Glacier

Located in the district of Rudraprayag, home to some of the holiest shrines of Uttarakhand, the Chorbari Glacier is one of the most important glaciers of Uttarakhand and one of the most popular tourist attractions of Uttarakhand. Separated from the other glaciers of the Gangotri group by a range of hills and a water divide, the Chorbari Glacier, originates from the southern slope of the Kedar-dome. The glacier, one of the most important tourist attractions of Uttarakhand is a definite must-visit while on a tour to Uttarakhand.

A number of subsidiary glaciers and avalanche chutes hang over the glacier, feeding the main Chorbari Glacier. The glacier begins from its accumulation zone at around 600m above sea level and terminates at an elevation of 3800m above sea level, after which it gives birth to the River Mandakini, a river which holds immense significance in the history of Hinduism. The River Mandakini later merges into the river Alakananda, another significant river of India at Rudraprayag.

Easily approachable, a holiday in Uttarakhand is definitely incomplete without a visit to the Chorbari Glacier. A stop over for pilgrims on their way to the Kedarnath Temple, one of the most revered temples of India, the glacier is also located near a lake, formed by the melted snow of the Chorbari Glacier, which is known as the Ganghi- Sarovar.

Nanda Devi Group of Glacier

Nestled amidst the Himalayas, the Nanda Devi Group of Glaciers are fairly large in size and are equally beautiful. Watch 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 a height of 7108mtrs they are the source of a number of rivers that have flourished the river valleys of India. A tour to 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, white beauties which lie isolated in the serene valleys of the mountains.

Number of streams and waterfalls originate from the Nanda Devi Group of Glaciers and one of them is Rishi Ganga which later on merges with Dhauli Ganga. 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 an area of 19km in Uttarakhand.