Garhwal Himalaya

Garhwal lies in the centre of the Indian Himalaya. In the Hindu scriptures spiritual tranquility is always associated with these snowy mountains and there are numerous popular Hindu shrines located in Garhwal. The earliest recorded travel in the Himalaya is that of the Indian guru Adi Shankracharya, who crossed Mana Pass from Badrinath to Guge district in Tibet in 800. Jesuit priests from Europe –Antonio de Andrade and Manuel Marques – crossed Mana Pass to Guge in Tsaparang province in Tibet in 1624. In more recent times mountaineers have been visiting and climbing in this area for many years.

North Garhwal consists of peaks such as Kamet (7756m/25447ft) and Mukut Parvat (7242m/23761ft). Many other high peaks here have not been climbed. Large glaciers such as the Bhagirath Kharak and the Arwa valleys have several peaks, including the Chaukhamba group, Kunaling and the Arwa Tower. The Hindu temple of Badrinath also attracts many pilgrims to this region.

A large number of glaciers edge their way into the Gangotri region from all sides. Many mountaineering parties have visited this area since it was opened to foreigners about two decades ago. The famous peaks here are Thalay Sagar (6904m/22652ft), Bhrigupanth (6772m/22219ft), Shivling and Satopanth. At the head of the main Gangotri Glacier rise the peaks of Chaukhamba. Its Peaks 1 - (7138m/32420ft), 2 – (7068m/23190ft), 3 - (6974m/22882ft), and 4 - (6854m/22488ft) have proved a challenge for the best climbers. Kedarnath Peak (6940m/22770ft), on the southern divide of the Gangotri Glacier, has also been climbed from its southern approach, which is more difficult. The Gangotri temple is a popular pilgrim destination too.

Another landmark in Garhwal is Kamet, which stands tall over the Saraswati Valley. Kamet peak was attempted several times and finally in 1931 Frank Smythe and Eric Shipton reached the summit. RL Holdsworth, who was with them, famously smoked a pipe on the summit.

Toward the north is the Jadh Ganga Valley, surveyed by JB Auden in 1939. It was visited again in 1990 when Trimukhi Parvat East was climbed. The next year an army team climbed the main peak.

The valleys to the extreme west of the Garhwal have some lovely peaks, where many students and mountaineers have trained. The Bandarpunch (6316m/20722ft) have been climbed a couple of times. This area is very convenient for a quick trip from Delhi.