Important Glaciers Of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh, often referred to as the “Land of Gods,” is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, vibrant culture, and awe-inspiring glaciers that adorn the majestic peaks. These icy giants, known locally as “Himnads,” add ethereal beauty to the enchanting Himalayan region. Let’s embark on a virtual journey to explore some prominent glaciers that make Himachal Pradesh a haven for nature enthusiasts.

Understanding Glaciers

A glacier is a large, perennial accumulation of crystalline ice, snow, rock, sediment, and often liquid water that originates on land and moves down slope under the influence of its own weight and gravity. Typically, glaciers exist and may even form in areas where:

  • Mean Annual Temperatures: are close to the freezing point.
  • Winter Precipitation: produces significant accumulations of snow.
  • Temperatures Throughout the Year: do not result in the complete loss of the previous winter’s snow accumulation.

Glacial Presence in the Himalayas

Glaciers cover about 16.3 million sq. km. of the Earth's surface, with a significant concentration in the Himalayas. The majority of glaciers exist in the Main Himalayan range, with others occurring on offshoot ranges such as the Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar.

Though the total number of glaciers is unknown, there are a total of 2554 glaciers documented in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Altogether, they cover an area of 4160.5 square kilometers and hold ice reserves of 387.3 cubic km. The highest number of glaciers are found in the Satluj basin (945) followed by the Chenab basin (681). However, the Chenab basin has larger glaciers than the Satluj basin. 

Distribution of Glaciers in Himachal Pradesh



No. of Glaciers

Area (sq. km)

Ice reserve (cu. km)





















Major Concentrations of Glaciers in Himachal Pradesh

There are four major concentrations of glaciers in Himachal Pradesh, namely:

  1. Bara Banghal, lying amidst Kangra, Kullu, Chamba, and Lahaul valleys, feeding the river Ravi.
  2. In the zone of Lahaul Spiti and Kullu valley, feeding glacial tributaries of River Beas.
  3. Near the tri-junction of Kullu, Kinnaur, and Spiti; feeding the tributaries of River Beas and Satluj.
  4. Chandra valley in Lahaul.

Important Facts 

  • LONGEST GLACIER:   Mayar glacier(L&S)
  • LARGEST GLACIER:   Bara Shigri glacier
  • The Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) is a laboratory under the Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) located near Manali, Himachal Pradesh. Established in 1969, its primary focus is on research in the field of snow and avalanches to provide avalanche control.
  • In 1873, European traveler Andrew Wilson coined the phrase "The Valley of Glaciers" to describe Lahaul. Wilson also wrote the book Abode of God, which was first published in 1875.

Important Glaciers 

Some of the important glaciers in Himachal Pradesh are as follows:

Bara Shigri: Bara Shigri is the largest glacier in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It is located in the Chandra valley of Lahaul and feeds the Chenab river. The glacier is 25 km long and 3 km wide. In 1936, a large part of this glacier melted and blocked the Chenab river, causing the formation of a large lake known as Chandertal. The glacier's altitude ranges from 3950 m to 4570 m and is 11 km (6.8 m) in length. The glacier flows northwards and opens out onto the Chenab valley where its southernly course is deflected westwards, close to the Spiti border. 
In 1858 AD, Stephenson trekked Bara Shigri glacier.
Captain Harcourt conquered the Shigri glacier in 1869 AD.
Walker and E.H. Pascoe were members of Geological Survey team visited Bara Shigri glacier in 1906 AD.
In 1970 AD, Bara Shigri glacier was scaled by Major Baljit Singh of the Indian Army.

Read in detail:  BARA SHIGRI GLACIER

Chhota Shigri: Chhota Shigri is a comparatively smaller glacier than Bara Shigri, lying on the northern slopes of the main ridge of Pir Panjal Range of inner Himalayas, just across Bara Shigri. It does not reach down to the bed of Chenab, but it is much steeper, slippery, and difficult to cross.

Bhadal glacier: Bhadal glacier is located on the southwestern slopes of the Pir Panjal range in the Bara Bhangal area of Kangra district. It feeds the Bhadal river which rises from this glacier. Due to heavy snowfall, the size of Bhadal glacier grows abruptly. 

Bhaga glacier: Bhaga glacier is located in the Lahaul and Spiti district on the slopes of the main Himalayan range. It provides water to the Bhaga river. It is about 25 km long and is surrounded by snow-covered peaks from all sides.

Chandra glacier: Chandra glacier is also located in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh on the slopes of the main Himalayas. It has been separated from Bara Shigri Glacier. Chandra glacier is the reason behind the formation of Chandertal lake.
Chandra Nahan glacier: Chandra Nahan glacier is located on the southeastern slopes of the main Himalayas near the areas of north-west of Rohru in Himachal Pradesh. The famous Chandra Nahan lake is fed by this glacier. The elevation of this glacier is more than 6,000 m.

Lady of Keylong glacier: The Lady of Keylong glacier was named by Lady Elashainghday, about a century ago, during British rule. The elevation of the glacier is about 6061 m and it can be seen clearly from Keylong.
Read in detail: Lady of Keylong glacier

Sonapani glacier: Sonapani glacier is located about five and a half km from the confluence of Kulti Nala. It was first surveyed in 1906 by H Walker and EH Pascoe of the Geological Survey of India. Additionally, it was surveyed by Kurion and Munshi from the Geological Survey of India in the year 1957. The desiccated glacier lake and the old terminal moraine of Sonapani Glacier are visible from the Rohtang Pass. The Sonapani Glacier itself is about 11 km long, and an ice-cliff forms the snout, mostly covered by stone. The stream issues from an ice cave situated towards the western limb of the curved ice-cliff. To the south of the snout, and near it, is a small terminal moraine. A large terminal moraine used to hold up the waters of the old lake. Three more old terminal moraines are cut through by the Sonapani stream after its escape from the lake-bed.

Perad glacier: Perad glacier is a small, easily accessible glacier near Putiruni. In the local dialect, Putiruni means broken rock. The glacier is located within one kilometer of Putiruni. It features a well-marked ice cave, and the glacier stream runs between two large lateral moraines.

Mukkila and Miyar glaciers: Mukkila and Miyar glaciers lie in the Lahaul-Spiti district. They are about 12 kilometers in length and feed Bhaga and Miyar rivers, respectively.

Trilokinath glacier: Trilokinath glacier is clearly visible from Trilokinath temple area. It lies in the Lahaul-Spiti district and feeds Chenab river.

Gangstang Glacier: Gangstang Glacier is situated at the western border of the Lahaul region at an altitude of about 5,480 m. It streams into Shahsha nullah, which joins the Chandrabhaga river about 13 km to the south.

Dudhon and Parbati glaciers: Dudhon and Parbati glaciers are significant glaciers that impart water for the Parbati stream. Each of these glaciers is about 15 km in length. They play a crucial role in the hydrology of the region, contributing to the flow of the Parbati stream.

Beas Kund Glacier: Beas Kund Glacier is located on the south-facing slopes of the towering Pir Panjal range near the conspicuous Rohtang Pass in the Manali region of Himachal Pradesh. This glacier drains into the Beas River, contributing to the water resources of the region.

Other Important Glaciers Some of the other important glaciers are Ghhudong glacier (Chenab basin),), Sara Umga glacier (Beas basin), Trichu glacier (Beas basin), etc.

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