Uttar Pradesh (6,543 m) – Sacred Mountain of Shiva
Shivling is one of the great sacred mountains that is associated with the deity Shiva, for which it is named. Located in the Himalayas in northern Uttar Pradesh close to the border of China, it is neither quite as tall nor as prominent as other mountains in the vicinity. However, its almost perfectly pyramidal shape makes it one of the most easily distinguished peaks in Northern India. Shivling is the source of the Bhagirathi River which feeds the Ganges.
This peak has long been associated with Shiva, or more specifically his symbol, the Shiva Linga. Its shape is reminiscent of the representation of Shiva used in temples, and represents the male power of the deity. It is uncertain if the Ganges River is sacred in part because it feeds from this mountain, or if the mountain is sacred because it feeds the Ganges, or both, but it is related to the Ganges River tradition of holiness.
Shivling was first explored by westerners in the 1930s. Early teams deemed the mountain impossible to climb. In addition, the sanctity of the mountain made climb attempts disliked by the local population. No serious effort to scale the mountain was made until 1974, when the peak was finally reached by a joint Indian-Chinese expedition.
Shivling is closely related to Nanda Devi both religiously and geographically. Located just to the northwest of India’s other great sacred peak, it is technically more remote. However, thanks to its proximity to a semi-major road, Shivling is actually the more accessible of the two. It is part of Gangotri National Park, approximately 250 miles northeast of Delhi.