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Glaciers in Uttarakhand

Nestled at the foothills of the mighty Himalayas in the northern part of India, 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 major part of the tourist attractions in the state, which reside in the northernmost part. Some have attained a sacred status while some are noted for their sheer magnificence. Some of the famous glaciers to look out for in Uttarakhand are Bunder Poonch, Pindari, Gangotri, Sunderdhunga, Doonagiri, Dokhriani, Khatling, and Kafni. 

These mountain glaciers are highly popular among tourists, especially trekkers and hikers. Owing to the arduous topography, vivid terrains, and lush green vegetation along the way to the glaciers of Uttarakhand, these places attract some avid adventure lovers and thrill-seekers.

Some of the glaciers in Uttarakhand also act as gateways to the higher ranges of the Himalayas. These pristine glaciers are also the source of some of the major water bodies of the country. The glaciers of Uttarakhand are the largest source of freshwater in North India. The majestic glacier landscape leaves the tourists spell bound and captivated with their immense beauty.

List of Some of the Most Famous Glaciers in Uttarakhand

Satopanth Glacier

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

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

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 (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 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 cirques, the Draupadi-Ka-Danda and Jaonli peak, located around 5,600 m and 6,000 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 place 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 find the Dokriani Bamak in the best of appearances and 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 major glacier of the Dhauli Ganga system of glaciers, Doonagiri Glacier is largely frequented by tourists and adventure enthusiasts visiting Uttarakhand. The Dhauli Ganga region comprises more than 500 glaciers of different shapes and sizes, flowing through the deep and narrow valleys. Doonagiri Glacier in Uttarakhand runs for 5.5.km, 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. 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 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 the middle of May to the middle of October.

Khatling Glacier

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. This is a trekker's paradise and definitely one of the notable tourist attractions of Uttarakhand even for tourists who do not have a passion for trekking. A number of trekking activities are arranged in and around the Khatling Glacier by both governments 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 beautiful glaciers in Uttarakhand, Maiktoli Glacier on the west of Pindari Glacier is one of the most sought-after destinations for trekkers and adventure freaks. A 5-kilometer long glacier, Maiktoli Glacier is one of the most striking destinations of Uttarakhand for trekking spots.

Walk amidst the dense woodlands and hilly terrains from the base camp of Song to reach the beautiful 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 major reason due to which 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, but out of these, only Tipra Bamak and the adjoining Ratanban glaciers are of significance.

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

Bandarpunch Glacier

Located at an altitude of around 6,316 m, the 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 freshwater 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 amazing 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. 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

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 beautiful places in Uttarakhand. This glacier has allured trekkers and adventure tourists to this paradise which is the idyllic destination for the adventure freaks.

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. 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, which is the home to some of the holiest shrines of Uttarakhand, the Chorabari Glacier is one of the most important glaciers of Uttarakhand. It is also among 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 Chorabari Glacier originates from the southern slope of the Kedar-dome. This glacier is one of the most important tourist attractions of Uttarakhand and a definitely must-visit place while on a tour to Uttarakhand.

A number of subsidiary glaciers and avalanche chutes hang over the glacier, feeding the main Chorabari Glacier. The glacier begins from its accumulation zone at around 600 m above sea level and 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.

Easily approachable, a holiday in Uttarakhand is definitely incomplete without a visit to the Chorabari Glacier. A stopover 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 Chorabari Glacier, which is known as the Gandhi- 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. Explore the spectacular Nanda Devi Group of Glaciers, which is 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 7,108 m above sea level they are the source of a number of rivers that have flourished in 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 and white beauties which lie 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 an area of 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 which is another popular glacier of Uttarakhand. Pindari Glacier is the major 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. The trekking route of Pindari and Kafni Glaciers are the same till Dwali. This is among the most popular treks in Uttarakhand and also the easiest. However, the trekking route to Pindari Glacier is long but worthwhile which leaves everyone stunning by the scenic landscapes.

Pindari Glacier is lying on the edge of the Nanda Devi, which is the highest peak of India. The Zero Point of the glacier is situated at a staggering altitude of 3,660 m above sea level and at 5 km from Phurkia. 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.

Milam Glacier

Located at just 60 km from Munsiyari, the major tourist destination of Uttarakhand, Milam Glacier is the source of the Gori Ganga River which is the major tributary of the Kali River. Lying at the base of 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 trail of the glacier 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 definitely not a cup of tea for beginners. It requires stamina and skills to reach this glacier owing to the complex as well as steep trails and high altitude. 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 along with the raw feelings amidst the mighty Himalayas can leave anyone captivated and stunned.

Sunderdhunga Glacier

Surrounded by the serenity of the Himalayas and abundant in the picturesque locales which defines tourism in Uttarakhand, Sunderdhunga Glacier is one of the most popular tourist destinations of India. 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. Surrounded by picturesque locales, 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.