Seemingly large, Gangotri Glacier extending between 4120 to 7000 meters above sea level in Uttarkashi district of Dev Bhoomi Uttarakhand is 28Km long and 2 to 4Km wide. Emerging from a circle located below the Chaukhamba peak, Gangotri glacier flows roughly towards northwest and takes a turn creating a cow’s mouth. The point is named Gaumukh where gau means cow and mukh means mouth. Gangotri glacier feeds Bhagirathi river- one of the major tributaries of river Ganga through Gaumukh. Gaumukh lies near the base of Shivling peak and Tapovan meadow lies in between them.
Gangotri is the largest glacier in Himalayas and is about 27 cubic kilometers in volume surrounded by tall snow capped Himalayan peaks of Gangotri group like Bhagirathi III, Meru, Shivling and Thalay Sagar. These Himalayan peaks are popular among trekkers for tough climbing routes that challenge the trekking enthusiasts.
Gangotri glacier is made up of group of glaciers. Raktvarn, Chaturangi and Kirti are the major three tributary glaciers with 18 small tributary glaciers- 7 of Raktvarn glacier, 8 of Chaturangi glacier and 3 of Kirti glacier. Other tributary glaciers that directly merge with Gangotri glacier are Swachand, Miandi, Sumeru and Ghanohim. Other four glaciers namely Maitri, Meru, Bhrigupanth and Manda feed Bhagirithi River, Bhrigupanth glacier has the maximum contribution.
Gangotri glacier is continuously retreating at a high rate- the data of measurement shows that Gangotri glacier retreated 850 meters in last 25 years of 20th century. The glacier is full of supra-glacial lakes and the glacial melt-water is dominant over the fluvial system. This nature of glacier is always a threat. In 12th June 2013, Kedarnath temple experienced a major destruction claiming lives of hundreds of people and goods due to the melting of Gangotri glacier.
Gangotri temple- one of the Char Dham pilgrimages is 17Km from Gaumukh of Gangotri glacier and is widely popular among Hindu devotees. The pilgrims prefer to take a bath in the cold glacial water of Gangotri glacier before performing worship and Shradda (last rites of the dead ones). Gangotri glacier is near to Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath– other three pilgrimages of Char Dham.
Gangotri Glacier | Best Time to Visit
Mid April to Early June and September to November are the best months to visit Gangotri glacier and enjoy nature. You must carry warm woolen clothes and good pair of shoes to protect yourself from the cold weather of Gangotri glacier.
Weather in Gangotri Glacier
- Summer: The months May to mid-June are ideal time for Gangotri-Gaumukh visit. The weather is pleasant and sky is clean making the route easy for trekkers. There are thousands of tourists trekking to Gangotri during this season.
- Monsoon: Monsoon brings heavy rainfall and there is high chance of landslide and road disruption. Thus, it is wise to avoid the monsoon months mid-June to mid-September for Gangotri glacier trekking.
- Spring: After Monsoon with greenery and vegitation, Gangotri glacier trekking route has much to offer to the trekkers during spring months mid-September to early November. Besides summer, spring season is best time for Gangotri glacier visit.
- Winter: The chilling cold and snowfall in the region prohibits the trekkers from entering Gangotri glacier region during winter months mid-November to late March. Char Dham remains closed from November to May and thus it is recommended not to make trip to Gangotri glacier during this time.
Gangotri Glacier | How to Reach?
Your trek to Gangotri glacier will begin from Gangotri temple, 17Km away. Here we discuss on how to reach Gangotri temple:
- By Air: Jolly Grant airport Dehradun is the nearest airport 257Km from Gangotri temple, 17Km from the snout Gaumukh of Gangotri glacier. Jolly Grant airport has regular flight between Delhi.
- By Rail: Rishikesh railway station is the nearest railhead 243Km from Gangotri glacier.
- By Road: Gangotri glacier is easily accessed from Rishikesh or Dehradun.
Route to Gangotri Glacier
- Haridwar– Rishikesh – Narendra Nagar – Chamba – New Tehri – Chingalisaur – Uttarkashi- Harsil –Gangotri
- Dehradun– Mussoorie – Yamuna Bridge – Damta – Barkot – Chingalisaur – Uttarkashi – Harsil – Gangotri
- Yamunotri – Janaki Chatti – Hanuman Chatti – Syana Chatti – Barkot – Chingalisaur – Uttarkashi – Harsil – Gangotri
Gangotri Glacier | Places Neaby
Gangotri | Yamunotri | Kedarnath | Badrinath | Bandarpunch Glacier