Gangotri Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in the Himalayan Region. The volume of the glacier is 27 cubic km, and the length & width is around 30 km and 4 km respectively. This glacier is surrounded by the snowy peaks of the Gangotri group like Shivling, Thalay Sagar, Meru and Bhagirathi III, most of which are known for their tough climbing routes. This glacier which emerges from a circle located below the Chaukhamba Peak flows roughly towards the north-west and finally terminates forming a shape resembling the mouth of a cow. Hence, the place is called Gomukh, meaning cow’s mouth. It is a ritual for the Hindus to take a bath in the freezingly cold water of the glacier.
The glacier has been thinning at a rate of 19 m per year since the first measurement in 1780. There are three main tributaries of the glacier namely Raktvarn, Chaturangi and Kirti. Additionally, it has more than 18 small tributary glaciers. The elevation of the glacier ranges from 4120 m to 7000 m above sea level. The glacier is made of talus cones, snow-avalanche fans, snow-bridges, dead ice mounds, conical peaks, serrated ridge crests, glacial troughs, smooth rock walls, crags, waterfalls, rock basins, gullies and glacial lakes.