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Visitor No: 242369

Glaciers

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Last Updated On: 02/11/2015  

RIVERS

LAKES

GLACIERS

Chandra Chandertal Barashigri
Bhaga Surajtal Gangstang
Chanderbhaga PEAKS Sonapani
Spiti Peaks in Lahaul Perad
Tsarab Peaks in Spiti

PASSES in Spiti

 

RIVERS

The Chandra and the  Bhaga rivers are  the main drainage lines of Lahaul. After their,  confluence at  Tandi, their combined waters constitute the Chandrabhaga  or the  Chenab river. In the Spiti sub-division, major river is Spiti   river.The rivers are not associated  with any  myths or historical events; on the other hand gods-one in each   case are supposed to reside at the various junctions of the important   streams and all such places are named after these gods. Similarly Places   where ancient bridges exist are also supposed to be the abodes of gods;   these gods are propitiated by occasional, often annual, sacrifices of   goats and sheep

Chandra River

The Chandra river originates from a huge snow,   bed on the south-eastern side of the Baralacha la and   assumes a large size very soon. During the summer, it becomes unfordable   within a  short distance, about two  kilometers of its source, while the rocky   bed, the icy temperature of the water and the swiftness of. the current   deter the boldest swimmer. Looking down the valley from the pass, a   vista of grand peaks and glaciers, on the right hand side, falling   abruptly to the water’s edge makes a memorable impression on the   visitor. On the left hand, the slopes are bare the feet of which remain   perpetually covered under heavy mass  of  debris falling from above.Lower down, the   Chandra Tal, a kilometre   long and a half wide, lies in a broad grassy plain, the lake is placed   between a low ridge and the main  Kunzam  Range with an outlet into the river. Following a general   south-westerly course for about 48 km the river sweeps round to the west   whence a further course of 64 km   west and north-west takes it to Tandi where it meets the Bhaga river.   Throughout its course the river is fed by a number of glaciers the   biggest being the Shigri on its left bank, and the Samundari on the   right. The chief tributaries of the Chandra below Shigri lie on the   right bank and they originate from the Sonapani glacier opposite   Khoksar and the Sissu glacier. The left bank is steep and bare, but   there is good  grazing ground on the right bank  beyond Khoksar. There are several  villages on the right bank as  far as Sissue, and from Sissue the valley  becomes richer and  cultivable down to Gondhla. The hamlets grow larger  as Gondhla is  approached, and the houses are seen to be better built,  surrounded  by groves of poplar and willow. The northern mountains take   gentler slope, but on the south, opposite Gondhla, the whole mountain   side, from the peaks over 6,090 metres to the river bed below. 3050   metres, is visible. Glaciers and snowfields overhanging rocky steeps   merge into grassy slopes below. At one point the cliffs descend for some   1,210 metres and form the grandest precipices in the world.
From its  source to its confluence with the Bhaga at Tandi, the Chandra   registers a fall of about 12.5 metres per kilometre.

 

Bhaga River

The  Bhaga river rises in the Suraj Tal   or Lake of the Sun, a name given to the small but deep tarn situated   well on the summit of the Baralacha Pass, a little below an altitude of   16,000 feet.  The Bhaga is another  significant constituent of the Chenab river system.  It takes its  origin from the snow-bed on the south-western foot of the   Baralacha Pass and flows northwest and later curves round to the   south-west. The country is barren down to Darcha village, which is   situated near the  junction  of the Yoche Nullah and the Zangskar  Chu with the main stream at  about 3,500 metres from the sea. The total length   of the river is about 65 km with an average fall ofabout   28 metres per kilometre. The banks of   the stream are steep and rocky.
Below  the confluence of the Chandra and the Bhaga at Tandi the joint   stream is known as Chandrabhaga. From a height of about 2800 metres   the fall of the river is six metres per kilometre through 25 km of length   in a  north-westerly direction to the  border of Chamba district. The side   ravines are numerous the biggest among them being the Chokhang nullah,   which pours in from the north by the village of Thirot.

 

Chanderbhaga or Chenab River

In its upper course   through Lahaul valley, the river Chenab is   known as the Chandra-Bhaga. It is formed by the rivers Chandra and Bhaga   and hence the name. As it flows through Lahul, this river has laid thick   deposits of sediments. It is in spate during the summer season   when the snow on the mountains melts. Flash floods occur with regularity   in the early afternoon in summer. They have been known to wash away   hundreds of cattle each year. The river Chandra-Bhaga may freeze   occasionally during the winter season.

 

Spiti River

 

The Spiti river has its source far north on  the eastern slopes off mountain ranges   which ruin between Lahul and Spiti. The river is formed at   the base of the Kunzam Range by the confluence of Kunzam La Togpo and   the streams Kabzima and Pinglung. On the   western side of its sour lies a vast salt-water lake. The   river follows a long winding course interloced here   and there by spurs that project from the foot of the plateaus on both   sides. The Spiti has a broad and flat valley bordered by high vertical   cliffs.  The valley  tops are flat and plateau-like.  Above the plateaus  and land again rises  in steep scarps. The length of the river within  Spiti on the  south-east, is about 130 km. It   continues in Kinnaur district upto a   place known as Khabo where it joins the Satluj.
The main stream of  the Spiti river, which is fed by the glaciers, is a  perennial one,  while some of the tributary streams disappear in the  loose morain  at the feet of the plateaus.  During its  course through the difficult, complex terrain, the Spiti is  joined  by a number of tributaries from both the sides. Those which join   its right bank include: Chiomo,  Gyundi, Rahtang, Ulah, Pin,  Lungze, Mane, Surahl, Pomograng, Mamdang and  Sumra; the left  bank tributaries are: Thamar,  Hanse,  Thumna, Tagting, Thumpa Lumpa, Shila, Kaza, Lingti, Poh, Tabo,   Karati, Gimdo and Parechu.


 

Pin  River

The Pin river constitutes the most important  right bank tributary  of Spiti river. Its main branch, Kyoti, originates  from the Lasuma  mountain in the Srikand Range of the Middle Himalayas.  It is  joined by another branch from the Bhaba Pass near Mudd village.   Later it is fed  by a number of streamlets,  chief among which  are Palder Chin, polder Chum and Shang on the  right bank, and Karve,  Lavrang, Mudd Taking, Madang, Saguaro,  Barakuit, Gooling, Seeling and  Kit ’togpos’ on the left bank. The  Pin is about 50 km long. The Gyundi  and the Rahtang, like the Pin,  rise from the Mid-Himalayas and are fed  by glaciers.
Of the  left bank tributaries of the Spiti, the most important are: Lingti,   Gimdo and the Parechu,  all of which rise in the main  Himalayas. Lingti is about 40 km in length  and there are a number  of villages in its watershed. Parechu, which  starts from near the  Tagling La and Parang La ranges, runs north-east  and joins the  Spiti at Sumdo.
The Spiti rivers are all violent torrents whose  depths vary enormously,  depending upon the season. In winter,   when the water freezes, the Spiti is barely about half a metre deep and   at its widest only a stone’s throw across, and has a discharge of a   couple of hundred cusecs. Its water, heavily charged with silt, is   generally turbid and yellow. Fording, especially in the latter part of   the day, is thus rendered perilous and almost impossible. The maximum   discharge in the river, at the point where it enters Kinnaur, may go as   high as twenty to thirty thousand cusecs. The discharges in its   tributaries also are subject to seasonal, daily, and even hourly   fluctuations. None of the rivers is navigable. The larger tributaries of   the Spiti flow  through valleys which  sometimes resemble its own. But shortly before  joining it, these  are forced into narrow chasms in the   rocky heights which rise on either side of the main river. The depth of   these cuttings is enormous; the walls  of  the canyon in the Shila Togpo can hardly be less than 600 metres. The   Pin gorge is several kilometres in length; similar rocky chasms can be   seen in  the gorges formed by the Sampa, Lingti,  Rahtang and Gyundi togpo.

 

Tsarab River

In the  north, the Tsarab runs north-westwards for about  fifty kilo-metres  before joining the Lingti river and entering Zangskar   in Ladakh. The  Tsarab is, because of its   peculiar location, not used for any purpose by the Spitians. Its   watershed does not contain any human habitation; it   ultimately joins the Indus in Ladakh.

 

Bara Shigri Glacier

The largest  glacier in the   district is situated in Lahaul sub-division known   as Bara Shigri, Bara meaning   big andShigri meaning  glacier, in Lahaul   dialect. Many mountaineers  have trekked  it for the sake of hobby orgeographical exploration. This   glacier rises from a number of large glaciers, meeting in great valley   above, filling that up, and then pushing themselves over its rim in one   great ice-stream down to the river.

Hugh Whistler, writing  in 1924, says, "Shigri is applied par-excellence to  one  particular glacier that emerges from the mountains on the left bank   of the Chandra. It is said to be several miles long, and the snout   reaches right down to the river, lying athwart the customary road from   Kullu to Spiti." Estimates differ as to the breadth of the glacier where   it is crossed, as owing to its movement and roughness no two caravans   cross it in exactly the same way, but it is not less than a mile wide.   In 1836 this glacier burst its bounds and dammed the Chandra, causing   the formation of a large lake, which finally broke loose and carried   devastation down the valley. The story runs that the people of Spiti   posted guards in the Kunzam Pass to watch whether the water would rise   high enough to flow across into Spiti."

The Bara Shigri  glacier attracted much attention for many years because  of the  valuable antimony deposits found there. The glacier was first   surveyed in 1906 by H. Walker and E.H. Pascoe of the Geologiaal Survey   of India. Daring 1955 the Geological Survey of India sponsored an   expedition to this glacier as part of the Indian programme for the   International Geophysical Year 1956-57, when a number of Himalayan   glaciers were examined and their snout position fixed.
The Bara  Shigri glacier, whose name signifies ’boulder-covered-ice’,  flows  northwards and debouches into the Chandra river where its   southerly course is deflected westwards, close to the Spiti border. The   glacier is above 3,950 m altitude and extends beyond 4,570 m, a 11 km   length of which has been recently surveyed and mapped. The glacier is so   heavily covered with surface moraine that ice is not visible for long   stretches except along the crevices and in the ablation areas.
 

Across  the Bara Shigri is another glacier known as Chhota   Shigri. It is a comparatively smaller glacier and does not reach   down to the bed of the river, but it is most steep and slippery,   difficult to cross.

 

Gangstang Glacier

The  Gangstang glacier situated at the western border of the Lahaul   region at an altitude of about 5,480 m streaming into Shahsha   nullah which joins the Chandrabhaga river at   about 13 km to the south.

 

Sonapani Glacier

The  desiccated glacier lake and the old terminal moraine are  visible from  the Rohtang Pass. The desiccated lake, about 2.5 km  in length, is a  narrow meandering plain following the contours of  bounding  slopes and consists of such  fluvio-glacial deposits as mud,  fine  sand, pebbles and angular gravels, through which the glacier stream   runs. The glacier is about 11 km long.   An ice-cliff forms the snout which is mostly   covered by stone, and 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 to  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

It is a small one and is easily accessible  being within one  kilometre of Putiruni. There is a well marked ice-cave  and the  glacier stream runs between two large lateral moraines.

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