A Geographical view of Uttarakhand

गंगा यमुना तेरा आँचल दिव्य हिमालय तेरा शीष
सब धर्मों की छाया तुझ पर चार धाम देते आशीष,
श्रीबद्री केदारनाथ हैं कलियर हेमकुण्ड अतिपावन।
अभिनन्दन! अभिनन्दन!
उत्तराखण्ड देवभूमि मातृभूमि शत शत वन्दन अभिनन्दन॥

Uttarakhand State Song (link)

This write up will present various aspects of the state of Uttarakhand’s Geography.

The Peaks

Nanda Devi Peak

Nanda Devi is the third highest mountain in India after K2 and Kangchenjunga. It is the 23rd-highest peak in the world. Nanda Devi main summit is located at Chamoli District and Nanda Devi East is in Pithoragarh-Chamoli.

Elevation : 7,816 m

Nanda devi peak
Peak of Nanda Devi

History behind the name : Nanda Devi is the incarnation of Mother Durga and the consort of Lord Shiva Shankar and is worshiped as the main goddess of the mountainous region. She is worshipped as the Isht Devi of the hills and also as the “destroyer of evil”.

The genesis of Nanda Devi is not very clear however. Folk lyrics suggest that Nanda was a princess of the Chanda dynasty of Almora.

The Goddess finds mention in Sanskrit literature (Srimad Bhagvatam or Bhagavata Purana). Peaks together are also referred as peaks of the goddesses Nanda and Sunanda and they are worshipped together as twins in Uttarakhand.

Some very old statues found in Mathura show Goddess Eknansha who was subsequently regarded as Nanda. Naini (of Nainital) and Naina (of Himachal Pradesh) also appear to be variants of the same Goddess.

Nanda Devi is one of the most revered goddess of the state and the peak and its route is both a adventure trek and a pilgrimage destination.

Kamet Peak

Kamet peak lies in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. After Nanda Devi, it is considered to be the second tallest peak in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand

Elevation : 7,756 m 

Kamet Peak
Kamet Peak

History behind the name : Kamet or Kang-med is a Tibetan word meaning “Glacier Fire”. This being the highest peak in the region, it catches the first rays of the rising sun and the last rays of the setting sun, lighting the ice on the top like a huge mass of fire.

Kamet is surrounded by three principal neighboring or subsidiary peaks:

  • Mukut Parbat, 7,242 m, northwest of Kamet;
  • Abi Gamin, 7,355m, north-northeast of Kamet;
  • Mana, 7,272m, south-southeast of Kamet.

Chaukhamba I Peak

Chaukhamba I is the main summit and the highest peak in the Gangotri Group of the Garhwal Himalaya, It has four mountain summits other are known as Chaukhamba II,Chaukhamba III and Chaukhamba IV.

Elevation : 7138 m 

Chaukhamba I peak

History behind the name :  ‘Chaukhamba’ literally means ‘four pillars’ and its four impressive peaks as following are the reasons behind the nomenclature.

  • Chaukamba I : 7,138 m;
  • Chaukamba II : 7,070 m;
  • Chaukamba III : 6,995 m;
  • Chaukamba IV :6,854 m.

Trisul I Peak

Trisul is a group of three Himalayan mountain peaks of western Kumaun, with the highest (Trisul I). The Trishul group forms the southwest corner of the ring of peaks enclosing the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, about 15 kilometres (9 mi) west-southwest of Nanda Devi itself.

Elevation : 7120m 

Trishul Peaks

History behind the name :The three peaks resemble a trident – in Hindi/Sanskrit, Trishula, trident, is the weapon of lord Shiva as shown below.

Trishul of Lord Shiva

The Passes

Lipulekh Pass : It lies at the tri-junction of Uttarakhand (India), Tibet (China) and Nepal borders. This pass is used by pilgrims to Kailash-Mansarowar Yatra.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has completed construction of 80 km road stretch that connects Dharchula to Lipulekh (China Border). At present, the travel to Kailash Mansarovar takes around two-three weeks through Sikkim or Nepal. Lipulekh route had a trek of 90 Km through high altitude terrain and making the trek even more difficult for the elderly. This journey can now be completed by vehicles after the construction of this route.

Representation of road constructed by the BRO from Dharchula to Lipulekh (Map not to scale)

The path and distance from Lipulekh pass to kailash Mansarovar and Mansarovar Lake is depicted below. Distance between Lipulekh and Mansarovar lake is roughly 70km and Lipulekh and Mount Kailash is over a 100km.

lipulekh to mansarovar distance
Representation of the distance between the Lipulekh pass to the Mount Kailash and lake Mansarovar (Map not to scale)

Mana Pass: It connects Uttarakhand with Tibet. It is situated at an elevation of 5610m, North of the holy place of Badrinath. It Remains closed in the winter season (Nov – Apr).

Mangsha Dhura Pass and Lampiya Dhura: High Himalayan passes of Mangsha Dhura(5,490 M) and Lampiya Dhura(5,530 M) are situated in Kuthi valley situated in the Pithoragarh District of Uttarakhand state of India.

Niti Pass: The Niti Pass located at 5800 mtrs connects India with Tibet. During winters, Niti village and valley is covered with heavy snow.

Traill’s Pass: It is situated at the end of the Pindari glacier and connects the Pindari valley to Milam valley. This pass is very steep and rugged. It is located between Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot peaks in the Uttarakhand state in the districts of Pithoragarh and Bageshwar in India

Other important passes like Kungribingri Pass and Kiogad Pass are shown in the map below.

Passes from the state of Uttarakhand in the physical map of Uttarakhand
Passes from the state of Uttarakhand

The Rivers

The Rivers and the Prayags (confluences)

Check this space for more about the origin and legends surrounding these great rivers : https://uttarakhand.life/blog/places/religious/

The Minerals

Mineral NameDistrict Uses
Barites (BaSO4)Dehra Dun, ChamoliPaint Industry, Drilling mud, As a filler in paper industry
Base MetalsAlmora, Chamoli, Dehra Dun, Nainital, Pauri Garhwal, Tehri Garhwal, PithoragarhCopper : Electric Industry, Manufacturing Of containers, Manufacturing of Alloys, Aero planes
Lead : Manufacturing of strong Batteries, Paint Industry, Photo cells, Ammunitions, Telephone Industry, Manufacturing of Alloys, Soldering
Zinc : Manufacturing of Alloys, Electric cell, Chemicals, Paint Industry
Placer GoldNainital, PauriOrnaments, Pharmaceutical Industry
Primary GoldChamoli, Pithoragarh, NainitalOrnaments, Pharmaceutical Industry
GraphiteAlmora, PauriWriting Materials,
Lubricant Industry,
Refractory Industry,
Nuclear Reactors,
Batteries Industry,
Graphene Sheets
GypsumDehra Dun, Nainital, Pauri, TehriPaint Industry, Agriculture Industry
LimestoneDehra Dun, Pithoragarh, Tehri, NainitalCement Industry, Steel Industry, Pharmaceutical Industry
MagnesiteAlmora, Pithoragarh, ChamoliCement Industry, Steel Industry as blast Furnace Bricks, Metal Industry
MarbleDehra DunBuilding material, Decorative show Pieces
PhosphoriteDehra Dun, Tehri, NainitalAgriculture Industry, Chemical Industry
Silica sandUttarkashiGlass Industry, Pharmaceutical Industry, Ceramic Industry, Rubber Industry
SoapstoneAlmora, Chamoli, PithoragarhCosmetic Industry
Sulphur and sulphur springsChamoli, Dehra DunPharmaceutical Industry, Cosmetic Industry, Chemical Industry
TungstenAlmora, ChamoliElectric Industry
UraniumChamoliNuclear power plants, Weapons
Table showing the minerals present at various locations in Uttarakhand

The Agriculture

About 90 per cent of the population depends on agriculture. The total cultivated area in the state is 7,67,459 hectare. In hilly areas Terrace Farming is prevalent.

Terrace Farming in Ranikhet

Agricultural land under irrigation is 5,61,733 hectare. The state has excellent potential for hydropower generation. There are a number of hydroelectric projects on the rivers Yamuna, Bhagirathi, Bhilangana, Alaknanda, Mandakini, Saryu, Gauri, Kosi and Kali generating electricity.

The Transport

Roads : The total length of metalled roads is 33,914 km. The length of PWD roads is 25,665 km. The length of roads built by local bodies is 2,674 km.

Railways : The main railway stations are Dehradun, Haridwar, Roorkee, Kotdwar, Kashipur, Udhamsingh Nagar, Haldwani, Ramnagar and Kathgodam.

Aviation : There are air strips at Jolly Grant (Dehradun) and Pantnagar (Udham Singh Nagar). Air strips at Naini-Seni (Pithoragarh), Gauchar (Chamoli) and Chinyalisaur (Uttarkashi) are under construction. Pawan Hans Ltd. is also operating helicopter service from Rudraprayag to Kedarnath for pilgrims.

Jolly Grant Airport Dehradun

The richness of the Geography of Uttarakhand can be seen in this article. Let us all join hands to sustainably preserve this rich Geography.

3 thoughts on “A Geographical view of Uttarakhand

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