Alaknanda River

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This article is about the tributary of the Ganges.
Alaknanda devprayag.jpg
The sediment-laden Alaknanda river flowing into Devprayag, Uttarakhand.
Country  India
State Uttarakhand
Region Garhwal division
Districts Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Pauri Garhwal
 - left Saraswati, Dhauliganga, Nandakini, Pindar
 - right Mandakini
Source Confluence of Satopanth Glacier and Bhagirathi Kharak Glacier
 - elevation 3,880 m (12,730 ft)
Source confluence Bhagirathi River
Mouth Ganges
 - location Devprayag, Uttarakhand, India
 - elevation 475 m (1,558 ft)
Length 190 km (118 mi)
Basin 10,882 km2 (4,202 sq mi)
 - average 439.36 m3/s (15,516 cu ft/s)
The Himalayan headwaters of the Ganges river in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, India. The Alaknanda is the left bank tributary of the Ganges at Devprayag.

The Alaknanda (or Alakananda; Sanskrit: अलकनन्दा) is a Himalayan river in the state of Uttarakhand, India and one of the two headstreams of the Ganges, the major river of Northern India and the holy river of Hinduism. In hydrology, the Alaknanda is considered the source stream of the Ganges on account of its greater length and discharge; however, in Hindu mythology and culture, the other headstream, the Bhagirathi, is considered the source stream.


The Alaknanda is considered to rise at the confluence and foot of the Satopanth and Bhagirath Kharak glaciers in Uttarakhand, though the Saraswati River tributary flowing from Mana Pass is longer; the two meet at Mana, India, 21 km from Tibet. Three km below Mana the Alaknanda flows past the Hindu pilgrimage centre of Badrinath. It meets the Bhagirathi River at Devprayag after flowing for approximately 190 km (118.1 mi) through the Alaknanda valley. Its main tributaries are the Mandakini, Nandakini, and Pindar rivers. The Alaknanda system drains parts of Chamoli, Tehri, and Pauri districts.[1]

River Alaknanda near Badrikashram

Following the merging at Devprayag, the river is known as the Ganges. The Alaknanda contributes a significantly larger portion to the flow of the Ganges than the Bhagirathi. The Alaknanda is also known for adventure sports such as rafting.

In mythology, the Goddess Ganga descended to earth at Gangotri, the original source of the Bhagirathi before the Gangotri Glacier receded to its current location at Gomukh. The Alaknanda is believed to have split off from the celestial Ganges when it descended from heaven.

The origin of Alaknanda River is of special interest to the tourists who visit the important pilgrimages in Uttarakhand. The Ganges rises in the southern Himalayas on the Indian side of the Tibet border. The five headstreams of the Ganges including the Bhagirathi, Mandakini, Alaknanda, Dhauliganga and Pindar, all rising in the northern mountainous regions of Uttarakhand.

On the Satopanth Glaicer six km up from Alaknanda's origin at its snout, the triangular Lake Satopanth is found at a height of 4350 m. It and the glacier are named after the Hindu trinity Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva.

Nanda Devi is the highest point in the Alaknanda basin.



Badrinath, one of the holy destinations for Hindus in India is located near to the bank of the Alaknanda River. This place is surrounded by two mountain ranges of Nar and Narayan and Neelkanth peak is located at the back side.



Alaknanda River origin is of great interest for the tourists who visit the pilgrimages in Uttarakhand. Rise of the Ganges in India is from the southern part of the Indian Himalaya, near the Tibet border. This river is among the best for river rafting in the world due to its high rafting grade.[citation needed]

Panch Prayag[edit]

Several rivers in the Garhwal region merge with the Alaknanda at Panch Prayag or 'holy confluence of rivers'. These are:[2]

  1. Vishnuprayag, where the Alaknanda is met by the Dhauliganga River
  2. Nandaprayag, where it is met by the Nandakini River
  3. Karnaprayag, where it is met by the Pindar River
  4. Rudraprayag, where it is met by the Mandakini River
  5. Devprayag, where it meets the Bhagirathi River and officially becomes the Ganges


There are 37 hydroelectric dams in operation, under construction or planned to harness the energy of the Alaknanda river and its tributaries and generate electricity.[3]

Towns along Alaknanda River[edit]

As the river flows, the towns along its banks are Badrinath, Vishnuprayag, Joshimath, Chamoli, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag, Srinagar and Devprayag. At each town with suffix prayag, Alaknanda meets another river.

Photo gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Singh Negi, Sharad (1995). Uttarakhand: Land and People, page 6. MD Publications Pvt Ltd. ISBN 81-85880-73-5.
  2. ^ Kapadia, Harish (2001). Trekking and Climbing in the Indian Himalaya, page 89. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-2953-2.
  3. ^ Hydroelectric Projects on Alaknanda River Basin, by South Asia Network on Dams Rivers and People,

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°08′N 78°36′E / 30.133°N 78.600°E / 30.133; 78.600