Nanda Devi

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Nanda Devi is the second-highest mountain in India , after kangchenjunga , and the highest located entirely within the country (Kangchenjunga is on the border of India and Nepal ). It is the 23rd highest  peak in the world.
The peak, whose name means “Bliss-Giving Goddess”, is regarded as the patron goddess of the Garhwal  and Kumaon Himalayas.

Nanda Devi is a special mountain if you look through a religious angle, Nanda Devi is literally the daughter of the Himalayas. There are many stories ,folk songs and mysteries around it. Nanda Devi was the first of its kinds in the Himalayas . In fact Nanda Devi was considered the highest peak of the world till 1808. In 1960’s , CIA did a bunch of weird nuclear activities around the mountain .

Geography

If you focus on Uttarakhand, a line going across in the between divides the state into two parts i.e Garhwal and Kumaon.
Between the two , there is Nanda Devi National Park. And inside it, there is Nanda Devi peak. Rising 7,817 meters (25646 ft ) over sea level , Nanda devi is the highest peak of India , which is completely inside the borders of India.

यह भी पढ़े : जानिए इस बार की चार धाम की यात्रा में क्या है । 

There are two summits in the massif of Nanda Devi , western on is higher and that is Nanda Devi itself. Smaller one to the east is Sunanda Devi or Nanda Devi east , which is 7434 meters high. Both summits are connected by a precarious ridge line which itself is two kilometers (1.25 miles) long. The massif beneath the summit is surrounded by a ring of high peaks which is called Barrier Ring . This ring itself had many famous peaks on it like Nanda Devi East itself , Doonagiri or Dronagiri (from which Hanuman took Sanjeevani) , Trisha (Trident) .

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The interior of this ring is called Nanda Devi Sanctuary now. On the immediate north and south of Nanda Devi ,there are two glaciers . Uttari (Northern) Nanda Devi Glacier and Dakshini (Southern) Nanda Devi Glacier . These two meet other glaciers of the sanctuary , to create Rishi Ganga, whose deep really narrow ravines create a relatively easier way in to the sanctuary . Otherwise , the second way in requires crossing the walls of sanctuary, which never drop below 5,500 meters (18,000 ft). The mountains of Nanda Devi is huge .

How To Reach

By Air – The nearest airport is at Jolly Grant at Dehradun at a distance of around 295 km from the Nanda Devi National Park. There are regular flights to Delhi from this airport.

By Rail – The nearest railhead is Rishikesh at a distance of 276 km. Rishikesh is approachable by a metalled road from Joshimath.

By Road – Metalled roads are there till Joshimath from where one has to trek to reach this place. The place is inaccessible for six months of the year and it is only in summers that treks to this region can be organised.

Valley-of-Flowers-Trek-Map-teamdevasthali
Valley of flowers trek

Nuclear Stunt of CIA and IB

In 1965 , when China was conducted its first nuclear tests in Tiber , then USA felt like spying on it .Someone in CIA had an idea to put a telemetry device on top of Nanda Devi , which will listen to tests happening in Tiber . Now the problem was , how to power this device ? In the extreme cold weather , regular lithium batteries wouldn’t work . And constantly changing weather of Nanda Devi meant no solar power . Nuclear power is the best option , it was decided. So , the best mountainners of the world were assembled for this top secret mission. Hiring many porters , the ascent began. But when the mission was about ti conclude , bad weather struck near the peak. Team stashed this device and its Nuclear battery on the mountain . After some time , when they returned , everything was missing . And the Nuclear device was never found . Sanctuary was closed from 1968 to 1974.

Now you can call it a coincidence , according to Hindu Mythology ,Lord Shiva consumed poison during Sagar Manthan and her consort did the same in modern Era.

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Nuclear Stunt of CIA and IB

Well , in 1975 , sanctuary reopened, Mountaineering started again . Many new records were created , many tragedies struck . In 1976 , A Japanese Team became the first to traverse the ridge between Nanda Devi and Nanda Devi East . In 1981 saw a team of Women Summiting Nanda Devi for the first time. But amidst thus roller coaster of success and disasters, if anyone sustained heaviest damage of all , it was the sanctuary of Nanda Devi . For heat creating bridges, entire forests were cleared out . Expeditions used to leave their garbage inside the sanctuary. Grasslands used to be obergrazed by goats and sheep which porters brought with them .

यह भी पढ़े : जानिए श्री बद्रीनाथ जी की कथा वा रोचक तथ्य ।

In 1982 , Nanda Devi Sanctuary was completely shut down , and around it Nanda Devi National Park was created .
In 2005 , Nanda Devi National Park and Valley of Flowers National Park were merged together .
Nanda Devi was last summitted in 1993, when an ecological Expedition went to the sanctuary.
Nanda Devi East still hosts expeditions , but you will require permission of IMF.

Nanda Devi National Park

was established in 1982 is a national park situated around the peak of Nanda Devi in Chamoli district & Garhwal district of Uttarakhand, in northern India.
Flora
Nanda Devi National Park is home to a wide variety of flora. Some 312 floral species that include 17 rare species have been found .
Vegetation is scarce In the inner sanctuary due to the dryness of the conditions. One will not find vegetation near Nanda Devi Glacier. Ramani, alpine, prone mosses and lichens are other notable floral species found in Nanda Devi National Park.

Nanda-Devi-and-Valley-of-Flowers-National-Parks-flora
valley of flowers

Faunna
Common larger mammals are Himalayan musk deer ,  mainland serow  and Himalayan tahr. Goral  are not found within, but in the vicinity of the park. Carnivores are represented by snow leopards, Himalayan black bear  and brown bear. In a scientific expedition in 1993, a total of 114 bird species was recognized.

Faunna of nanda devi national park-teamdevasthali
Musk Deer in nanda devi national park

Religion & Mythology

This was recorded history , written on paper . Apart from this there is one more facet of Nanda Devi .
Hinduism has one special and unique feature , that how many different sects and ideologies merge to create this Religion. Their is no one holy book nor their is a single unique version of each story, ritual or way of worship. It seems that there are two major storylines of Nanda Devi which mixed into one over the years .
First one is from Kumaon .The line which running across the centre divides the Uttrakhand state in two parts Kumaon & Garhwal. In Kumaon , Nanda and Sunanda are visible as separate peaks and this might be the reason that both Nanda Devi and Sunanada Devi are mentioned in the stories.

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The most common story I could find is :- Nanda and Sunanda were two sisters born in the royal family of Kumaon . The birth of twins was seen as an auspicious symbol , and a sort of ritual of birthday celebration began every year . Years after , a story of their life was weaved into the celebration.
Once both sisters were going somewhere through the forest, and a Buffalo began chasing them . Both went hiding behind a banana tree , but a goat came and ate the leaves of said tree. Both sisters were killed by the bull.

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Raj jaat at bedni bugyal

Now , when annual celebration occur on Nanda Asthami , the idols of Nanda and Sunanda are made with banana trees , and in the shape of a mountain . And , a Buffalo and a goat are sacrificed .
Animal sacrifice was banned a few years ago . This version of story is not famous in all Kumaon , but In Nanital and in Almora , which is the cultural centre of Kumaon , this version is popular .
Other regions have their own local versions , and their own local temples .

But let’s visit another story brought to you from Garhwal
Almost all hilly states and regions claim to be ‘The land of god’ , but if someone is truly deserving of this, it has to be Garhwal . Both Ganga and Yamuna originate here , Chaar Dham (4 holy places ) , Panch Kedar (5 adobes of Shiva) and Panch Badri (5adobes of Vishnu) are also here.
Even after all thus , the territory of Nanda is the largest of all here .

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nanda devi dev doli
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nanda devi dev doli

Major peaks of all regions are named after Nanda. Stories of Garhwal mention Nanda in a different way and they mention them a lot more than Kumaon. The most common version I could find in Garhwal is that Nanda is Parwati, who was born in the hills and married Shiva of Kailash. This story is pretty popular in TV serials and shows. The place where Shiva was married to Parwati is Baijnath so is written in Manaskhand ( a scripture) so writes Badri Dutt Pandey in his popular book , History of Kumaon. People of Garhwal say that Triyuginarayan was the site. Parwati got disenchanted and bored with Kailash so every 12 years she returns to her maternal home for a few weeks. The journey back to Kailash is re-enacted in a 280KM long pilgrimage recurring every 12 years called Nanda Devi Raj Jat. It starts in a village called Nauti near Karnaprayag and the route continues along Pinda river to Nanda Kesari where Nanda of Kumaon meets Raj Jat and then whole pilgrimage continues north to Homkund via Bedini bugyal and Roopkund. A four horned Ram walks along the whole route called Chausingya Khadu in Garhwali and this ram is sent free at Homkund and go Kailash.

Nanda must have other story before this in Garhwal , which was merged with the story of Shiva and Parwati some time later and further down the road story of Nanda Sunanada of Kumaon must have been merged with it. This merging can have various reasons. The way Vaishno Devi in Jammu shot up in prominence in last 50-60 years the same way merging Nanda to mainstream religion has many advantages.

Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve

It is located in the Himalayan Mountains in the northern part of the country, includes as core areas the Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, which are one World Heritage site. Nanda Devi National Park has remained more or less intact because of its inaccessibility. The Valley of Flowers National Park is renowned for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers and outstanding natural beauty. Together they encompass a unique transition zone between the mountain ranges of the Zanskar and Great Himalaya.

nanda devi biosphere reserve map-teamdevasthali
nanda devi biosphere reserve

Nanda Ashtami is associated with Goddess Nanda Devi and is observed on the Shukla Paksha Ashtami day in Bhadrapad Month in Uttarakhand. Nanda Ashtami 2022 date is September 4. The importance of the festival is that it celebrates the visit of Nanda Devi to her mother’s home.

RESEARCH AND WRITTEN BY

TANIYA BHARDWAJ

taniya-bhardwaj-teamdevasthali
Taniya Bhardwaj

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