Monday, April 8, 2024

Gangotri National Park

Gangotri National Park UPSC

Gangotri National Park is a renowned national park located in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India. It is known for its stunning landscapes, diverse flora and fauna, and religious significance. The park is surrounded by snow-capped peaks.

The park is named after the Gangotri Glacier, one of the primary sources of the holy River Ganges.

One of the most popular attractions within the park is the Gangotri Temple, which holds great religious significance for Hindus. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Ganga and serves as an important pilgrimage site for devotees.

Table of Contents

  • Gangotri National Park Location
  • Gangotri National Park History
  • Gangotri National Park Area
  • Gangotri National Park Hills
    • Shivling
    • Thalay Sagar
    • Bhagirathi Group of Peaks
    • Meru
  • Gangotri National Park Valley
    • Nelong Valley
      • Gartang Gali
  • Gangotri National Park Glacier
    • Gangotri Glacier
  • Gangotri National Park River
    • Bhagirathi River
  • Gangotri National Park Lake
    • Kedartal
    • Gaumukh Tal
    • Vasuki Tal
  • Gangotri National Park Flora
    • Alpine Meadows
    • Coniferous Forests
    • Rhododendrons
    • Birch and Willow Trees
    • Medicinal Plants
  • Gangotri National Park Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptiles
  • Gangotri National Park UPSC Questions

Gangotri National Park Location

Gangotri National Park is located in the Uttarkashi district of the state of Uttarakhand in northern India. It is situated in the upper reaches of the Garhwal Himalayas

The park is situated in the upper catchment of Bhagirathi River. It is located within the West Himalayan Biographical Zone and is home to a variety of springs, waterfalls, and snowy high peaks. 

The Gangotri National Park area forms a viable continuity between Govind National Park and Kedarnath Wildlife SanctuaryThe Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary lies directly to the south, with Nanda Devi National Park to the southeast, and the Sangla Valley and Govind Pashu Vihar Wildlife Sanctuaries to the west.

International Boundary:

The northeastern section of the Gangotri National Park forms the international boundary of India and Tibet (China). 

Gangotri National Park Nearest Airport:

The nearest airport to Gangotri is Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun which is located around at the distance of 250 kms. 

Gangotri National Park Nearest Railway Station:

The nearest railway station to Gangotri is Rishikesh (234 kms) and Dehradun (250kms).

Gangotri National Park History (Gangotri National Park Established)

Gangotri National Park has a rich history intertwined with its cultural and religious significance. 

Here's a brief overview of the history of Gangotri National Park:

1. Religious Significance: The region around Gangotri has been revered by Hindus for centuries. According to Hindu mythology, it is believed to be the place where the River Ganges descended to Earth from the heavens. 

Gangotri is considered one of the Char Dham pilgrimage sites, which hold immense religious importance for Hindus. The Gangotri Temple, dedicated to Goddess Ganga, is believed to be centuries old and attracts thousands of devotees each year.

2. Establishment of the Park: Gangotri National Park was established in 1989. The park was created to preserve the unique ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural beauty of the region. It was declared a national park to protect the fragile Himalayan ecology, including the Gangotri Glacier, the primary source of the River Ganges.

Gangotri National Park Area

Gangotri National Park spans an area of approximately 2,390 square kilometers (920 square miles).

The Gangotri National Park encompasses a wide range of altitudes, starting from around 1,800 meters (5,900 feet) and reaching up to the snow-covered peaks exceeding 7,000 meters (23,000 feet). 

Gangotri National Park Hills

Gangotri National Park is located in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand, India. As such, the park is characterized by its mountainous terrain and is surrounded by numerous hills and peaks. 

The mountains in the Gangotri National Park are part of the Gangotri Group. This group of peaks is a subdivision of the Garhwal Himalaya, which is a subrange of the Himalaya.

Here are some notable hills and peaks in the vicinity of Gangotri National Park:

(1) Shivling:

Shivling is a prominent peak located near the Gangotri Glacier. It is one of the major peaks in the Western Garhwal Himalayas, reaching an elevation of approximately 6,543 meters (21,467 feet). The towering presence of Shivling adds to the scenic beauty of the park.

(2) Thalay Sagar:

Thalay Sagar is another significant peak in the western Garhwal Himalayas region, situated near the Gangotri Glacier. It stands at an impressive height of about 6,904 meters (22,651 feet). The majestic Thalay Sagar is a prominent feature of the surrounding landscape.

(3) Bhagirathi Group of Peaks:

Gangotri National Park is encompassed by the Bhagirathi mountain range, which includes several notable peaks. The Bhagirathi I, II, III, and IV peaks are part of this range, with Bhagirathi I being the highest at approximately 6,856 meters (22,484 feet). These peaks contribute to the breathtaking vistas within the park.

(4) Meru:

Meru is a magnificent peak situated in the region surrounding Gangotri National Park. It is known for its distinctive shape and stands at an elevation of around 6,660 meters (21,850 feet). Meru, with its imposing presence, adds to the allure of the park's natural beauty.

Gangotri National Park Valley

Nelong Valley is a part of the Gangotri National Park and holds an important strategic location.

Nelong Valley (Nelang Valley):

  1. It situated in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, India.
  2. The Nelong Valley is a rocky desert in the Gangotri National Park. 
  3. This rocky region looks exactly like Ladakh, Spiti, and Tibet and features high altitude peaks having similar weather and landscape.  
  4. The valley is situated at an elevation of 11,000 feet above sea level. 
  5. Long before, Nelong Valley was an essential trade route between Tibet and India.
  6.  Gartang Gali, a wooden walkway, is a main attraction of the valley.

However, it's important to note that access to the Nelong Valley has been restricted by the government due to security reasons and concerns about the ecological sensitivity of the area. Therefore, tourists and visitors may not have unrestricted access to the valley.

Gartang Gali:

  1. It is situated in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district.
  2. It is located in the picturesque Nelong Valley near the Indo-China border.
  3. Gartang Gali is a wooden bridge said to be built by the Pathans of Peshawar in the 17th century. 
  4. Gartang Gali is a 136-m-long wood-lined stairway. 
  5. It is a 1.8-m-wide bridge, perched at around 3,352 m (11,000 feet), 
  6. This route was traditionally used by merchants trading between India and Tibet. 
  7. It was damaged over the years after it fell into disuse following the Indo-China war in 1962.
  8. It is reopened by Uttarakhand Tourism in 2015.
  9. Travelers require special permission to visit Gartan Gali.

Gangotri National Park Glacier

The Gangotri Glacier is located in the Gangotri National Park boundaries. The park is named after the Gangotri glacier

It is one of the major glaciers in the Indian Himalayas. The Gangotri Glacier is the primary source of the holy River Ganges and is a significant natural feature within the park.

Gangotri Glacier:

Gangotri Glaciar is located in Uttarkashi District, Uttarakhand, India. It is known for being one of the primary sources of the Ganges.

The Gangotri Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in the Himalaya. It is located in the Garhwal Himalayas, starting at an elevation of about 7,100 meters (23,300 feet) above sea level. 

The Gangotri Glacier is approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) long and 2 to 4 km (1 to 2 miles) wide. It is surrounded by towering peaks, including Shivling and Thalay Sagar.

The Gangotri Glacier is fed by several smaller glaciers and snowfields in the upper reaches of the Gangotri National Park. It has three main tributaries, namely Raktvarn (15.90 km), Chaturangi (22.45 km) and Kirti (11.05 km) and more than 18 smaller tributary glaciers.

Gangotri National Park River

The Gangotri National Park is blessed with several rivers and water bodies, but its most significant river is the Bhagirathi River. The Bhagirathi River is one of the major tributaries of the holy River Ganges and is considered sacred by Hindus.

Bhagirathi River:

The Bhagirathi River originates from the Gangotri Glacier within the park. It flows through the rugged landscapes of the Garhwal Himalayas, carving its way through deep valleys and gorges. The river passes near the town of Gangotri, which is the gateway to Gangotri National Park, and continues its journey towards the plains.

The Bhagirathi River holds immense religious and cultural significance. It is named after King Bhagirath, who is believed to have brought the River Ganges down from the heavens to cleanse the sins of his ancestors. The river is considered holy by Hindus, and pilgrims visit its banks for sacred rituals and immersion of ashes.

As the Bhagirathi River joins the Alaknanda River at Devprayag, they merge to form the River Ganges, which then continues its journey through the plains of India. 

It is 205 km (127 mi) long and basin size is 6,921 km2 (2,672 sq mi).

Gangotri National Park Lake

Gangotri National Park is home to several glacial lakes, which are a significant part of its natural beauty and ecological system. Here are some notable lakes within or near Gangotri National Park:

(1) Kedartal:

Located at an elevation of approximately 4,750 meters (15,580 feet), Kedartal is a glacial lake situated in the upper reaches of Gangotri National Park. It is surrounded by majestic peaks, including Thalay Sagar and Bhrigupanth. The lake is considered sacred and is known for its crystal-clear waters.

(2) Gaumukh Tal:

Gaumukh Tal is a small glacial lake formed near the terminus of the Gangotri Glacier, known as Gaumukh ("Mouth of the Cow"). It is the source of the River Ganges. This lake offers a close-up view of the glacier and the surrounding mountainous landscapes.

(3) Vasuki Tal:

Vasuki Tal is a beautiful high-altitude lake located at an elevation of around 4,150 meters (13,615 feet). It is situated in the upper reaches of the Chaturangi Glacier, a tributary of the Gangotri Glacier. The lake is known for its serene surroundings and panoramic views of the surrounding peaks.

Gangotri National Park Flora

Gangotri National Park is known for its diverse and unique flora, with a wide range of plant species adapted to the high-altitude Himalayan environment. The park showcases a variety of vegetation zones as you ascend in altitude. 

Here are some notable flora found within Gangotri National Park:

(1) Alpine Meadows:

At higher elevations, above the treeline, you'll find alpine meadows with sparse vegetation. These meadows are adorned with beautiful wildflowers during the summer months. Some common alpine flowers include blue poppies, Himalayan daisies, primulas, saxifrages, and gentians.

(2) Coniferous Forests:

In lower altitudes, you'll encounter coniferous forests dominated by species such as deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara), blue pine (Pinus wallichiana), and silver fir (Abies pindrow). These evergreen trees provide habitat for a variety of wildlife.

(3) Rhododendrons:

Gangotri National Park is known for its vibrant rhododendron forests. Various species of rhododendrons thrive in the region, displaying beautiful blooms in shades of pink, red, and white during the spring season.

(4) Birch and Willow Trees:

Along rivers and streams, you'll find stands of birch trees (Betula utilis) and willows (Salix spp.). These deciduous trees add to the diversity of the park's flora and provide important ecological functions, such as stabilizing riverbanks.

(5) Medicinal Plants:

Gangotri National Park is also rich in medicinal plants used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Species such as Kutki (Picrorhiza kurroa), Atees (Aconitum heterophyllum), and Bhojpatra (Betula utilis) have medicinal properties and are of cultural and economic importance.

Gangotri National Park Fauna (Gangotri National Park Animals/Wildlife)

Which animals are found in Gangotri National Park?

Gangotri National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife species adapted to the high-altitude Himalayan environment. The park's rich fauna includes several notable and endangered species.

Here are some of the prominent fauna found within Gangotri National Park:


  • Snow leopard
  • Black Bear
  • Brown Bear
  • Himalayan Tahr
  • Musk Deer
  • Bharal (Blue Sheep)
  • Ibex


  • Himalayan Barbet
  • Himalayan Monal
  • Himalayan Snowcock
  • Partridges
  • Bulbul
  • Parakeet
  • Pheasants
  • Doves


  • Himalayan Pit Viper
  • Common Skink
  • Himalayan Ground Skink
  • Common Frog

Gangotri National Park UPSC Questions

Q. Where is Gangotri National Park?/Gangotri National Park is located in which state?/In which district of Uttarakhand is Gangotri National Park situated?

A. Gangotri National Park is located in the Uttarkashi district of the state of Uttarakhan, India.

Q. Gangotri National Park is famous for which animal?

A. Gangotri National Park is famous for  Snow leopard, Black Bear, Brown Bear, Himalayan Tahr, Musk Deer, Bharal (Blue Sheep), Ibex etc.

Q. What type of forest is Gangotri National Park?

A. The Gangotri National Park harbors Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests at lower elevations and Western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows at higher elevations.

Q. Which is the highest peak of Gangotri National Park?

A. Chaukhamba I (7,138 m) is the highest peak of Gangotri National Park.

Gangotri National Park

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