glacier in india map

Siachen Glacier & The Hidden Treasures of Glacier in India [MAP] 2023

Share your love

India is home to several glaciers, including the Siachen Glacier, Gangotri Glacier, and the Bhagirathi-Kharak Glacier. These glaciers are located in the Himalayan mountain range, which runs through the northern part of the country. They are an important source of freshwater for the region and support a diverse ecosystem, including rare and endangered species. Climate change is affecting these glaciers and may cause them to shrink in size.

This article will be about Glaciers in India with a map, including the Siachen Glacier, Gangotri Glacier, Dokriani Glacier, Zemu Glacier and all other important Glaciers in India. In a joint project with the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, the Indian Space research Organisation (ISRO) has done the mapping of Himalayan glaciers which covered Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra basins, by using the Indian satellite data from 2004 to 2011. The study finds that there are 34,919 glaciers encompassing an area of over 75,779 sq. km. in the entire Himalayas. (Source: ISRO). Download HD Image of Glacier in India Map from the link at the end of this article.

Some Important Glaciers in India

  1. Siachen Glacier: Located in the Karakoram mountain range in the northeastern part of India, the Siachen Glacier is the longest glacier in the Himalayas and the second longest in the Karakoram. It is also one of the highest battlefields in the world, with India and Pakistan both maintaining military outposts on the glacier.
  2. Gangotri Glacier: This glacier is located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand and is the source of the Bhagirathi River, one of the main tributaries of the Ganges River. It is one of the largest glaciers in the Indian Himalayas and is considered a sacred site by Hindus.
  3. Bhagirathi-Kharak Glacier: This glacier is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand and is the source of the Bhagirathi River. It is one of the largest glaciers in the Indian Himalayas and is considered a sacred site by Hindus.
  4. Zemu Glacier: Located in the state of Sikkim, the Zemu Glacier is the largest glacier in the eastern Himalayas, and is the source of the Teesta River.
  5. Dokriani Glacier: Located in the state of Uttarakhand, Dokriani Glacier is a relatively small glacier, but it is the primary source of the Bhilangna River, which is a tributary of the Yamuna River.
  6. Chhota Shigri Glacier: Located in the state of Himachal Pradesh, Chhota Shigri Glacier is a relatively small glacier, but it is the primary source of the Chenab River, one of the major rivers in North India.

Significance of Glaciers

Some of the Ecosystem Services provided are:

  1. Water Regulation: Glaciers act as natural reservoirs, storing and releasing water as the seasons change. This helps to regulate the flow of rivers and streams, providing a steady supply of water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation.
  2. Biodiversity: Cold, high-altitude environments created by glaciers are home to a variety of plant and animal species that have adapted to survive in these harsh conditions. These include rare and endangered species such as the snow leopard, the Himalayan musk deer and many other unique flora and fauna.
  3. Landscape Formation: Glaciers play an important role in shaping the landscape, carving valleys and shaping mountains through their slow movement. The unique landforms created by glaciers such as moraines, drumlins, and eskers, contribute to the diversity of earth’s surface.
  4. Climate Regulation: Glaciers play a role in regulating global temperature and weather patterns by reflecting solar radiation back into the atmosphere and influencing air currents.
  5. Tourism: Glaciers are a major tourist attraction and provide economic benefits through tourism and recreation.
  6. Cultural Significance: Many cultures around the world have a spiritual or cultural connection to glaciers and their retreat or melting can have significant impacts on their cultural and spiritual practices.
  7. Research: Glaciers provide valuable information about the earth’s past climate, as the ice layers can be analyzed to provide information about past temperature, precipitation, and atmospheric conditions.
  8. Natural Barrier: Glaciers can act as a natural barrier, protecting the land and human settlements from natural hazards such as avalanches, landslides, and floods.

Significance of Glaciers in India

  1. Siachen Glacier: The Siachen Glacier is an important source of water for the Indus River system, which supports irrigation, drinking and hydropower generation. It is also home to a unique and diverse ecosystem, including rare and endangered species such as the snow leopard and the Himalayan ibex.
  2. Gangotri Glacier: Gangotri Glacier is the source of the Bhagirathi River, one of the main tributaries of the Ganges River. It is a sacred site for Hindus and is an important source of water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation in the region.
  3. Bhagirathi-Kharak Glacier: Like Gangotri, Bhagirathi-Kharak Glacier is also a source of the Bhagirathi River and is considered a sacred site by Hindus. It is an important source of water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation in the region.
  4. Zemu Glacier: Zemu Glacier is the source of the Teesta River and is an important source of water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation in the region.
  5. Dokriani Glacier: Dokriani Glacier is the primary source of the Bhilangna River, which is a tributary of the Yamuna River. It is an important source of water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation in the region.
  6. Chhota Shigri Glacier: Chhota Shigri Glacier is the primary source of the Chenab River, one of the major rivers in North India. It is an important source of water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation in the region.

All of these glaciers are also important for the unique ecosystem that they support, including a wide variety of plant and animal species that have adapted to survive in the cold, high-altitude environments created by glaciers. Their shape and form also contribute to the unique landscape of the region.

Climate change is affecting these glaciers, so it’s important to understand the impact of these changes on the ecosystem and communities that depend on them. These glaciers play an important role in the balance of nature, and for human civilization, providing water, food, energy, and a unique ecosystem.

The Himalayas

The Himalayas is a mountain range in Asia that stretches more than 1,500 miles through five countries: Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and China. The Himalayas are the highest mountain range in the world, with the highest peak, Mount Everest, reaching 29,029 feet above sea level. The Himalayas are also home to many other famous peaks, including K2, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, and Makalu.

The Himalayas are a major tourist destination, with many trekking and climbing routes leading to its peaks. The Himalayas are also home to many ancient and spiritual cultures, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Bon, which have deeply influenced the region’s art, culture and architecture.

The Himalayas are also an important source of water for the region and support a diverse ecosystem, including rare and endangered species. The glaciers in the Himalayas are also an important source of freshwater and regulate the flow of rivers and streams, providing a steady supply of water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation.

Climate change is affecting the Himalayas as well, as the glaciers are shrinking and receding, this may change the flow of rivers and streams, which could affect water availability and the health of downstream ecosystems. The rising temperature and the melting of permafrost also affect the stability of the mountain slopes, making them prone to landslides, rock falls and avalanches, putting human lives and infrastructure at risk.

  • The mountain ranges of the Greater Himalayas run in a north-west to south-east arc, some 2500 km in length, across the north of the Indian subcontinent, and form the location for the largest concentration of glacier ice outside of the poles. 
  • The region contains glaciers covering an area of -22,800sq. km, forming part of the “Asian Water Towers”. 
  • These glaciers and associated snowpacks provide much of the runoff which contributes to the flow of the Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Indus and Yellow Rivers amongst others, and through these river systems to approximately 1.3 billion people downstream. 
  • In the upper catchments within the Himalayas and foothills, approximately 210 million people are dependent upon the hydrological regimes of Himalayan rivers for survival.

Himalayan Glaciers

  • Net mass addition of glaciers in much of the Himalayas occurs during the monsoon season. Accumulation and ablation (the loss of material from a large mass of ice) occur in summer and this is typical for at least -75% of glaciers in Nepal and adjacent regions
  • However, in the Karakoram sector of the Himalayas, accumulation occurs throughout the year associated with winter precipitation. 
  • Accumulation is also partly driven by avalanches from surrounding mountain slopes, and this process brings rock debris as well as snow and ice to glacier surfaces, which serves to retard melting by changing the surface heat balance of glaciers. This process is particularly important in the Karakoram and south of the main Himalaya crest.

glaciers in india

GlacierLength (km)Location
Siachin72Karakoram Range
Hispar62Karakoram Range
Baifo69Karakoram Range
Batura59Karakoram Range
Kolahai6Kashmir
Machai8Kashmir
Shishram6Kashmir
Liddar5Kashmir
Bara Shingri30Himachal Pradesh
Chhota Shingri9Himachal Pradesh
Sara Umga17Himachal Pradesh
Parvati8Himachal Pradesh
Samudra Tapu9Himachal Pradesh
North Nanda Devi19Uttarakhand
South Nanda Devi19Uttarakhand
Trishul15Uttarakhand
Gangotri30Uttarakhand
Dokriani5Uttarakhand
Chorabari7Uttarakhand
Gantotri19Uttarakhand
Chowkhamba12Uttarakhand
Satopanth13Uttarakhand
Pindari8Uttarakhand
Milam19Uttarakhand
Zemu26Sikkim
Kangchenjunga16Sikkim
glaciers in india Source: ENVIS

Siachen glacier

Siachen glacier
Siachen glacier

The Siachen Glacier is a large glacier in the eastern Karakoram mountain range in the northernmost part of India, near the border with Pakistan. It is the longest glacier in the Himalayas and the second-longest in the Karakoram. The average altitude of the glacier is about 18,000 feet above sea level, and it is home to the Siachen Base Camp, which is one of the highest permanently inhabited places in the world.

The Siachen Glacier is an important source of water for the Indus River system, which supports irrigation, drinking and hydropower generation in the region. It is also home to a unique and diverse ecosystem, including rare and endangered species such as the snow leopard and the Himalayan ibex.

The Siachen Glacier is also one of the highest battlefields in the world, with India and Pakistan both maintaining military outposts on the glacier. The two countries have been in a dispute over the area since 1984, and the deployment of troops in the region has resulted in severe environmental degradation, including the destruction of vegetation and wildlife habitats.

Climate change is affecting the Siachen Glacier as well, as the glacier is shrinking and receding, which may change the flow of rivers and streams, which could affect water availability and the health of downstream ecosystems.

  • The 72 km long Siachen glacier located in the Karakoram, is the longest glacier in the Indian Himalayas and the second-longest in the world’s non-polar areas. 
  • Siachen glacier lies immediately south of the great drainage divide that separates the Eurasian Plate from the Indian subcontinent
  • Siachen glacier has an altitude of 5,753 m (18,875 ft) above sea level at its head at Indira Col
  • Siachen Glacier extends between the latitudes of 35°10’N-35°42′ N and longitudes 76°46’E-77°25’E. 
  • Its width varies between 1 and 8 km, covering an area of —936 sq. Km. with an estimated mean thickness of —300 m
  • Siachen is located close to the boundary between India and Pakistan, in the eastern part of the Karakoram Range.
  • Westerlies are an important source of precipitation for the Karakoram including Siachen Glacier. 
  • Nearly two-thirds of the annual snowfall in these areas occurs under the influence of extratropical cyclones known as western disturbances, primarily during the winter season.

Hispar Glacier

The Hispar Glacier is a large glacier located in the Karakoram mountain range in Pakistan, near the border with China. It is one of the longest glaciers outside of the polar regions, stretching for about 77 km. The Hispar Glacier is also part of the Hispar Muztagh, a subrange of the Karakoram range, which is known for its steep and difficult climbing routes.

The Hispar Glacier is an important source of water for the Hunza River, which is a major tributary of the Indus River and provides water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation in the region.

The Hispar Glacier is also an important site for glacial research, as it is one of the few glaciers in the Karakoram that is still advancing. Studies of the glacier have provided valuable information about the dynamics of glaciers and their response to climate change.

Like other glaciers in the region, the Hispar Glacier is also affected by climate change, which is causing the glacier to retreat and shrink. This may change the flow of the Hunza River, which could affect water availability and the health of downstream ecosystems.

  • Hispar Glacier is located in the central Karakoram and drains into the Hunza river catchment. Its main trunk is a nearly 50 km long 
  • At Hispar pass, Hispar Glacier is connected to the third-longest glacier in the world, the 69 km long Biafo Glacier, flowing to the East
  • from the south about a dozen small tributaries nourish the Hispar Glacier and from the north, three large tributary glaciers feed the main glacier trunk (Kunyang, Yutmaru and Khani Basa). 
  • These tributary glaciers collectively contribute about half of the total width of the main glacier.
  • The lower part of the Hispar Glacier is completely debris-covered and characterized by numerous supra-glacial melt ponds as well as circular collapse structures, indicating widespread down-wasting.

Biafo Glacier

The Biafo Glacier is a large glacier located in the Karakoram mountain range in Pakistan. It is one of the longest glaciers outside of the polar regions, stretching for about 63 km. The Biafo Glacier is known for its scenic beauty and is a popular trekking and climbing destination in the region.

The Biafo Glacier is an important source of water for the Braldu River, which is a major tributary of the Indus River and provides water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation in the region.

The Biafo Glacier is also home to a unique and diverse ecosystem, including rare and endangered species such as the snow leopard, the ibex and the urial sheep.

  • Biafo Glacier flows south-east of the main watershed divide of the central Karakoram Range. 
  • Biafo Glacier is the second-longest of the Glacier of Himalayan Ranges at 69 km
  • Biafo Glacier- an area of 628 sq. Km
  • Biafo Glacier alone accounts for about 4% of the glacierized area of the Karakoram Range– 15 000 sq. Km.

The Chhota Shigri Glacier

The Chhota Shigri Glacier is a small glacier located in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh state in India. It is the primary source of the Chenab River, which is one of the major rivers in North India. The glacier is about 14 km long and varies in width from 0.5 to 1 km.

The Chhota Shigri Glacier is an important source of water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation in the region. It also supports a unique and diverse ecosystem, including rare and endangered species such as the snow leopard and the ibex.

The Chhota Shigri glacier is also a popular trekking and climbing destination in the region, it’s also a popular spot for adventure tourism, including skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

  • The Chhota Shigri Glacier is located on the northern slope of the Pir Panjal Range toward the east of the Rohtang Pass (H.P.). 
  • Chhota Shigri Glacier is surrounded by high, steep ridges and mountains that provide an ideal condition for the development of this glacier. 
  • It is located at 32º 15’ N and 77º 31’E, covering an area of about 10 sq. km. 
  • The total drainage area of the Chhota Shigri Glacier stream is about 45 km2. 
  • The water from the Chhota Shigri glacier melting drains out in a single confined stream and meets the Chandra River
  • Lateral moraines are present all along the body of Chhota Shigri. 

Gangotri Glacier

gangotri glacier
gangotri glacier

The Gangotri Glacier is a large glacier located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand in the western Himalayas. It is the source of the Bhagirathi River, one of the main tributaries of the Ganges River. It is about 30 km long and varies in width from 0.5 to 2 km. The glacier is located at an altitude of about 4,100 meters and is considered one of the most sacred places in Hinduism.

The Gangotri Glacier is an important source of water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation in the region. It also supports a unique and diverse ecosystem, including rare and endangered species such as the snow leopard and the ibex.

  • Gangotri glacier holds the position of being the Largest Glacier of Uttarakhand.
  • It is the source of the mighty river Ganga.
  • It begins at the northern slope of the Chaukhamba range of peaks in the Garhwal Himalayas.
  • Gangotri glacier is a combination of several other glaciers. 
  • The snout of the Gangotri Glacier is known as ‘Gomukh’. The water stream, known as the Bhagirathi River, emerges from Gomukh, at an elevation of 4,000m. 
  • To reach Gangotri Glacier, one has to trek 18 km from the Gangotri town. 
  • The elevation area of the Gangotri Glacier varies from 4,000-7,000 m
  • The Gangotri Glacier area also has several high peaks around it, notably the majestic snow-clad Shivling peak (»6500 m).
  • Gangotri glacier system is a cluster of many glaciers comprising of The main Gangotri glacier –(length: 30.20 km; width: 0.20-2.35 km; area: 86.32 km2) as trunk part of the system. It flows in the northwest direction. The major glacier tributaries of the Gangotri Glacier system are
    • Raktvarn Glacier (55.30 km2), 
    • Chaturangi Glacier (67.70 km2), 
    • Kirti Glacier (33.14 km2), 
    • Swachand Glacier (16.71 km2), 
    • Ghanohim Glacier (12.97 km2), 
    • Meru Glacier (6.11 km2), 
    • Maindi Glacier (4.76 km2) and few other having glacierised area of about 3.08 sq. km. 

Dokriani Glacier

The Dokriani Glacier is a small glacier located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand in the western Himalayas. It is a tributary glacier of the Bhagirathi River, one of the main tributaries of the Ganges River. The glacier is approximately 2.5 km long and is situated at an altitude of around 4,500 meters.

The Dokriani Glacier is an important source of water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation in the region. It also supports a unique and diverse ecosystem, including rare and endangered species such as the snow leopard and the Himalayan ibex.

  • The Dokriani Glacier – Garhwal region of the Great Himalayas
  • Located between- latitudes 31º 49’ to 31º 52’ N; longitudes 78º 47’ to 78º 51’ E. 
  • The Dokriani Glacier begins near
    • the Janoli peak (6,633 m) and 
    • Draupadi ka Danda peak (5,716 m). 
  • Din Gad a small stream, originates from the Dokriani Glacier. It follows a narrow valley and joins the river Bhagirathi at Bhukki. 
  • The total drainage area of Dokriani Glacier- 23 km2.
    • The elevation of glacier – 3,950-5,800 m 
    • length -about 5.5 km 
    • width varies between 0.1-2.0 km. 
  • Dokriani Glacier middle portion is highly fractured and full of crevasses, moulins, glacier tables, and ground moraines. 
  • The snout of Glacier is at an altitude of 4,000 meters, covered with huge boulders and debris. 
  • The lower portion of the glacier is full of debris. 
  • It is bounded by two large lateral moraines of about 200 m in height. 
  • Several other moraines are present at different altitudes of this Glacier indicating the past extension of the glacier. 

Zemu glacier

zemu glacier
zemu glacier

The Zemu Glacier is a large glacier located in the eastern Himalayas in the Indian state of Sikkim. It is one of the largest glaciers in the region and is located in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area. The glacier is approximately 20 km long and is situated at an altitude of around 5,500 meters.

The Zemu Glacier is an important source of water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation in the region. It also supports a unique and diverse ecosystem, including rare and endangered species such as the snow leopard, the red panda and the musk deer.

The Zemu glacier is also a popular trekking and climbing destination in the region, and it’s also a popular spot for adventure tourism, including skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

Sikkim Himalayas receives more precipitation than the adjacent Mount Everest region to the west, whose glaciers are smaller. There are five main glacier basins in Sikkim Himalaya, namely;

  • East Rathong, 
  • Rangpo, 
  • Taung, 
  • Changme Khangpu 
  • Zemu.

Zemu glacier

  • the largest glacier in Eastern Himalaya with 20 Km length having a total surface area of about 42 sq. Km.
  • It is located in the north-western part of the State of Sikkim, along the border with Nepal. 
  • It originates from the eastern slope of the World’s third highest mountain peak Khangchendzonga (8,591 m). 
  • The basin covered area of the Zemu glacier is 359.85 sq.Km. with an ice volume of 15.05 Km3. 
  • From 1909 to 2005, the Zemu glacier has retreated approximately 863 m. 

Dangers of Climate change for Glaciers

  1. Melting and retreat: Climate change is causing glaciers to melt and retreat at an unprecedented rate. This can lead to a decrease in the size and volume of glaciers and cause a loss of freshwater resources, as well as contribute to sea level rise.
  2. Glacier lake outburst floods: As glaciers retreat, meltwater can accumulate in lakes that form at the snout of the glacier. These lakes can become unstable and cause sudden and destructive floods if their dam or ice barrier fails.
  3. Increased rockfall and avalanches: The melting of permafrost and the destabilization of ice cliffs can lead to increased rockfall and avalanches, putting human lives and infrastructure at risk.
  4. Changes in river flow: Glaciers act as natural reservoirs, storing and releasing water as the seasons change. As glaciers retreat and shrink, they can change the flow of rivers and streams, which can affect water availability and the health of downstream ecosystems.
  5. Loss of biodiversity: Glaciers are home to unique and diverse ecosystems, including rare and endangered species. As glaciers retreat and shrink, these ecosystems may be lost, along with the species that depend on them.
  6. Loss of cultural and spiritual significance: Many cultures around the world have a spiritual or cultural connection to glaciers and their retreat or melting can have significant impacts on their cultural and spiritual practices.
  7. Economic Loss: Glaciers are important for tourism, recreation, and natural resources, such as minerals and forests, which provide economic benefits for local communities. As glaciers retreat and shrink, these benefits may be lost, leading to economic loss.

Climate change poses a significant threat to glaciers and the ecosystems and communities that depend on them. It’s important to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changes that are already occurring in order to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on glaciers and the earth’s ecosystems.

Download Glacier in India Map HD

Download HD Image of Glacier in India Map from our Telegram Channel


Conclusion

In conclusion, glaciers play a vital role in maintaining the balance of nature and the functioning of the planet’s ecosystems. In India, the Himalayas and its glaciers are an important resource for human civilization, providing water, food, energy, and a unique ecosystem. They act as natural reservoirs, regulating the flow of rivers and streams, which provide a steady supply of water for irrigation, drinking, and hydroelectric power generation.

They also support a diverse ecosystem, including rare and endangered species, and are a major tourist attraction, providing economic benefits through tourism and recreation. Additionally, many cultures around India have a spiritual or cultural connection to the Himalayas and its glaciers. However, climate change poses a significant threat to glaciers and the ecosystems and communities that depend on them. It’s important to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changes that are already occurring in order to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on glaciers and the earth’s ecosystems in India.

This was the brief about the Glaciers in India with a map, including the Siachen Glacier, Gangotri Glacier, Dokriani Glacier, Zemu Glacier.

Share your love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *