Glaciers are basically made up of fallen snow which over the years compresses into large thickened masses of ice which have an ability to move , albiet very slowly. The glacial movement is directed by gravity and high pressure. It is noteworthy that the glacial ice is the largest source of fresh water on Earth.
Glaciers of Uttarakhand acts like an important features of Uttarakhand's topography as it source some of the most important river systems of India. While the river Ganga has its origin in the melt waters of Gangotri glacier, the melt waters of Yamunotri glacier feed the headstream of river Yamuna.
Glaciers here in Uttarakhand are also very popular with tourist and trekkers. Some of these mighty glaciers are considered holy while some are visited just because of there sheer magnificence.
Bandarpunch Glacier is located in the Yamuna basin of Himalayas at a height of 4442 metre.
Banderpoonch Glacier is 12 km long and located at the northen slopes of Bandarpunch peak (6316m), Bandarpunch west (6102m), and Khatling peak (6387m).
The trek route to the glacier is via Dehradun to Sankr-Saur, Taluka and finally to Osla Ruinsara Tal which is considered to be the best camping site to the glacier. From here the glacier is around 23 kms. The total distance from Dehradun to the base camp site will be 207 kms.
Due to its interesting formation style this glacier has always been so important as well as interesting for geologists.
Chorabari Glacier which is at a height of 3800 metre comes under Rudraprayag district. Originating from the Southern slope of Kedar dome, Chorbari Glacier is 6 kms long. Chorabari Glacier starts from its accumulation zone ( 6000 mtrs) and terminates at 3800 meters. Kirti stambh, Bhartekhunta and other glaciers divide it from the Gangotri glacier group. This glacier melts to form river Mandakini, which finally merges into Alaknanda at Rudraprayag.
The trek to this glacier is an easier one. Gaurikund which serves as the base camp to Chorbari Glacier can be reached taking motorable road. The trek begins from Gaurikund and goes upto Kedarnath which is 17kms from this place. From there a 3 kms trek takes you to the snout of the glacier.
One can witness a beautiful lake here, called Gandhi Sarovar, which is formed at the snout of the glacier between the rocks and moraines.
Dokriani Glacier is at a height of 3800 mts. This 5 kms long Dokriani Glacier flows in the northwest direction. The glacier originates at a height of approximately 6000 mts, originating from northern slope of Draupadi–ka-Danda (5600 mts) and Jaonli Peak(6000 mts). Dokriani Glacier terminates into streams of water at the height of 3800 mts. which finally merges in to the Bhagirathi river.
Trekking to Dokriani Glacier is considered to be the most interesting one. One can start from Uttarkashi. 56 kmts ahead from Uttarkashi is Bukki village after which at a distance of 23 kmts comes Dokriani glacier.
Doongiri Glacier is at a height of 5150 mts to 4240 mts. forms Dhauli Ganga. This 5.5 kms long Doongiri Glacier is one of the important glaciers of Dhauli Ganga basin. These small large glaciers in assorted shapes lie in the valleys formed here. Water streams coming from the glacier finally merges into Dhauliganga river near Juma Village.
Juma village from where Doonagiri is just 8 kms in distance is the base camp for this trek. From Doonagiri, Doonagiri glacier is at a distance of 12 kms. One can reach Juma village from Joshimath traveling 43 kms. The best time said to visit this glacier is from May to October.
Gangotri Glacier originates at a height of 7,100 mts above the sea level. The glacier lies within a span of 28 kms and terminates at Gaumukh which is at 3892 mts. Gangotri Glacier is a combination of several glaciers which as a result form a huge mass of ice. From top it appears to be plain bluish ice but towards the end it gets muddy because of the debris.
Trek to Gangotri Glacier is easily manageable and easily approachable. From Uttarkashi a motorable road leads to Gangotri. The distance between the two is 85 kms. From Gangotri the glacier is just 17 kms.
Khatling Glacier which comes under Tehri District is surrounded by snow capped peaks of Jogin group (6646 mts.), Sphetic Pristwar (6905 mts.), Barte Kauter (6579 mts.), Kirti Stambh (6902 mts.) and Meru. It's a lateral glacier, at the source of the river Bhilangana. The Valley of Bhilangana affords a panoramic view of snow capped peaks and hanging glaciers.
One can start for trek to Khatlang Glacier from Ghuttu. The trekking distance from Ghuttu to Khatling is just 55 kms. Ghuttu is connected fairly with other prominent places like Dehradun, Tehri, Mussoorie and Rishikesh. Moderate trekker can easy undertake this trek.
Pindari Glacier is in Bageshwar district (Kumaon) at an altitude Variation of 3,600m to 5,000m. It lies between the Nanda Devi and Nandakot peaks. It is one of the most easily accessible of all the Himalayan glaciers. Pindari glacier is located in the Pinder valley between longitudes 790 13’-800 02’ E and latitudes 300 15’ N. It occupies an area of 339.39-sq-kms. This five kilometer long glacier gives birth to Pindari river.
To reach this glacier one can start from Almora by road upto Song (base camp) and thereafter one has to trek 45-km upto Pindari Glacier.
Satopanth Glacier is originates at a height of 7000 mts. from the peaks of the Chaukhamba (7068 mts.) and the Badrinath (6974 mts.) mountains. The term ‘Satopanth’ has derived from two words – ‘Sato’ meaning heaven, and ‘Panth’ meaning path or way. Satopanth along with Bhagirathi Kark serve as the sources of river Alaknanda. Spreading over some 13 kms, Satopanth Glacier is located merely 17 kms from Badrinath temple of the Chamoli District. This glacier melts into water at an altitude of 3810 meters.
Treks to this glacier is a full of adventure and can only be done during summers. The glacier can be aproached from Joshimath, Chamoli District by following the Badrinath and Mana (3128m) road. From Mana you can take the route which follows the course of the Alaknanda River. At an elevation of 145 km, one can come across a waterfall named Vasudhara. Walking 5 kms upward from Vasudhara opens the snout of Satopanth Glacier.
Tiprabamak glacier is in Garhwal Region. It’s the 6-km long glacier, the longest Glacier Of Bhyundar Ganga Basin. There are some 16 glaciers forming in the Bhuyender Ganga Basin and Alaknanda catchment but only Tiprabamak and Ratanban are of some significance. Bamak is the local name for the glacier.
To reach this glacier one can take the Joshimath - Badrinath road which will take you to Govind Ghat and from there 20 kms. further, a path will take you to the glacier. One can also visit Valley of Flowers which is on the same route. Best time to visit this glacier is Mid June to Mid October.