Uttarkashi district offers a Himalayan panorama of natural delights, perhaps unmatched elsewhere. It is a treasure - trove of lush valleys, soaring peaks, crashing waterfalls, balmy hot water springs and other bounties of Mother Nature. A full description could easily fill a book, hence only some broad features can be indicated.
Peaks: Experts have divided these into two groups; the Gangotri Group and the Bandarpunch Range. The Gangotri Group are bounded by the Jadh Ganga and the Bhagirathi at one end, and may be approached through the Bhagirathi valley. They consist of the following:
The Bandarpunch Range is found in the Yamuna valley. It is bounded by the river Tons at one end, and the river Bhagirathi and Jadh Ganga on the other. The peaks in this group consist of the following:
||Kalanag (Black Peak)
||Bandarpunch West (White Peak)
To organise a mountain expedition permission must be first obtained from the Indian Mountaineering Federation, Head Quarters Complex, Benito Juarez Road, New Delhi 110 021. Certain peaks in the range mentioned above are closed for mountaineering purpose.
Glaciers: The glacier spread in the higher regions of the district is indeed awesome. The longest glacier in the Himalayas, the Gangotri Glacier, with a length of 25 km., starts from the Chaukhamba group of peaks at an elevation of 7,143 m. It terminates at Gaumukh, at an altitude of some 4,000 m., with water gushing out from a snout at high speed. It is believed that originally the glacier terminated at Gangotri and may have even stretched as far as Jangla. It's contributory glaciers are as follows:
1. Mainadi 5 km.
2. Swachhand 7 km.
3. Chaturangi 16 km.
4. Ganohim 6 km.
5. Kirti 7 km.
Other well-known glaciers are Bhrigupanth, Meru, Raktavarn, Chaturangi and Kirti, all spreading a vast icy sheet on the base of the snow-clad mountains. On the Yamuna valley side, the well-known glaciers are Bandarpunch, Jaundhar, Siar, Rahita, Charan and Bartiakho. The local name for a glacier is 'bamak'.
Rivers: The district is criss-crossed by four major river systems; the Ganga, Yamuna, Tons and Rawar - fed by numerous tributaries. Their main features:
The Ganga, originating at Gaumukh, flows past Harsil, Bhatwari, Uttarkashi, Dunda and Dharasu into district Tehri. Its main contributing rivers are the Jadh Ganga, Kedar Ganga, Assi Ganga and Varun Ganga.
The Yamuna, originating at Saptrishi Tal, flows past Gangani, Barkot and Naugaon into district Dehradun. Its tributaries are the Hanuman Ganga, Garud Ganga, Kamal, Burney Gad, and Badiyar Gad.
The Tons originates in the Bandarpunch range and joins the river Pawar at Tiuni. At Netwar, it is met by the river Rupin. Other tributaries are Gaddu Gad, Maunagad, Khooni Gad and Mirgad. The river Pawar originates from Bushhar (H.P.) and flows past Arakot to join the Tons at Tiuni. Its tributaries are Kotigad and Kastagad. The former serves as a useful means of irrigation, while the main river is well-stocked with fish.
Lakes: Some of the better known lakes Dodital, Nachiketatal, Kedartal, Ruinsara tal, Bharnala and Barsu - have already been mentioned in the section on 'Trekking'. Others include four small lakes above Dharali, Kheera tal, Sankat tal, and Vasuki tal. Besides, there are a number of glacial lakes, such as between Tapovan and Nandanvan, at the confluence of Meru glacier and Brahmapuri, etc.
Waterfalls: There are innumerable waterfalls in both the Bhagirathi and Yamuna valleys, some seasonal, others the whole year round. In the Bhagirathi area, one of the most prominent is near Limchi Gad, 2 km. from Gangnani. In the Yamuna valley, there is a spectacular, steep waterfall close to Yamunotri, which has a step - like descent. As mentioned earlier, the waterfall at Surya Kund at Gangotri has a charm all its own, where, as a noted author puts it, 'the water rolls like silk ...'
Hot-Springs: These occur at four places in the district, at Gangnani, Yamunotri, Chaula-Dhungi and Banas, a village 2 km. from Hanumanchatti. Of these, the ones at Yamunotri are the hottest and their sulphurous fumes sometimes lead to prostration. The hot-spring at Gangnani is the most comfortable, and the waters are believed to possess medicinal and curative properties.