Location: Garhwal Himalayas, Uttaranchal
Nanda Devi is the second tallest mountain in India. The mountain has two peaks, Nanda Devi and Nanda Devi East. The mountain is guarded by a barrier ring of some of the highest mountains in the Indian Himalayas, 12 of which exceed 6400 meters in height. This has further elevated its sacred status as the daughter of the Himalaya (Shail Putri), in local myth and folklore.
Religion and Mythology
Mount Nanda devi is regarded as Goddess Parvathi, who is known as Nanda in the Garhwal & Kumaon areas. The Goddess is closely associated with the socio-cultural practices of Uttaranchal. In fact, Nanda devi means ‘bliss-giving Goddess’. The Goddess has many shrines and temples dedicated to Her in the region.
One of the better-known ones is located at Almora.The annual Nanda Devi mela is held here in the month of September.
Nanda Dev Raj Jat – a Hindu pilgrimage, stretching 280 km through the central Himalayas is also held in the months of August-September every 12 years. Dating back to the 9th century AD, this pilgrimage is symbolic of seeing off Goddess Nanda to her consort Lord Shiva’s abode in higher Himalayas after her stay at her parent’s place in the lower Himalayas. The pilgrimage is led by a four horned ram on its 19 day schedule from Nauti till Hemkund. The ram is said to be born every 12 years in Chandpurpatti region of Karnaprayag.
The Nanda Devi National Park is situated around the peak of Nanda Devi. Also known as the Valley of Flowers, it was established as national park in 1982 and was inscribed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. It is one of the most spectacular wilderness areas in the Himalayas. The park has remained more or less intact because of its in accessibility. It is home to several endangered mammals including the snow leopard, Himalayan musk deer and the bharal (blue mountain goat). The region is also renowned for its meadows of endemic alpine flora.