Uttar Pradesh (7,816 m) – Sacred Mountain of the Goddesses Nanda and Sunanda
Nanda Devi is arguably India’s most famous mountain. The tallest mountain located entirely within India’s borders, it is famous for several reasons. First, it is home to one of the world’s biosphere reserves, and as such has been declared a world heritage site. Second, its glacier is one of the three ultimate sources of the sacred Ganges River. Third, it is one of the major sacred Hindu mountains of Northern India. Its name means Bliss-Giving Goddess.
This mountain is believed to have been held as a sacred religious site since pre-historic times. Technically two peaks, they are named Nanda Devi and Sunanda Devi, the goddesses which they are closely associated with. The twin mountains are the site of Hindu shrines, and an annual festival is held here in honor of the namesake goddesses.
The region around Nanda Devi was surveyed in the 19th century, but the number of interconnected peaks in the region (known as the Sanctuary) made it extremely difficult for explorers to find their way to Nanda Devi itself. A route to the mountain was finally found in 1934, and the peak ascended for the first time in 1936.
Nanda Devi is extremely isolated, but is considered a mecca for eco-travelers thanks to the biosphere reserve located on its western slopes. Is is difficult to reach, with the closest town of Munsyari 25 miles away. The mountain is located in a region known as the Sanctuary at the heart of Nanda Devi National Park, approximately 250 miles northeast of New Delhi.