|Elevation||6,596 m (21,640 ft)|
|Prominence||1,200 m (3,937 ft)|
|First ascent||June 3, 1974 by Sonam Pulzor, Kanhiya Lal, Dilip Singh, Nima Dorje|
Neelakant (or Nilkantha, Nilkanth, Nilkanta,Neelkanth) is a major peak of the Garhwal division of the Himalayas, in the Uttarakhand region of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Although substantially lower than the highest peaks of the region, it towers dramatically over the valley of the Alaknanda River and rises 3,474 metres (11,398 ft) above the Hindu holy town of Badrinath, only 9 km (6 mi) to the east. Frank Smythe described the peak as "second only to Siniolchu in Himalayan beauty."
The Satopanth Glacier lies on the northwest side of Nilkantha, below a 2,500 m (8,200 ft) face of the peak. The Panpatia Glacier lies to the southwest, and feeds the Khirao Ganga, a stream running under the south side of the peak. Further away, to the west of the peak, lies the well-known Gangotri Glacier and its associated peaks. Across the Alaknanda valley lie the Kamet and Nanda Devi groups.
It is believed that there was no mountain on the spot where Nilkantha stands today. There was an adage route between Kedarnath and Badrinath. The "Purahita" or the worshipper of the two temples worshipped them in one day. This continued for a long time until due to some sins of the worshipper, Lord Shiva became displeased with him and stood blocking the way as huge sky-kissing mountain, which is said to be modern Nilkantha.
The peak was first climbed on June 13, 1961, by an expedition led by Col. Narinder Kumar. Shri O.P. Sharma and Sherpas Lakpa Giyalbu and Phurba Lobsang reached the summit. They placed their base camp on the Satopanth Glacier and ascended via the north face. This climb was disputed by the Himalayan Club, Bombay but was subsequently ratified by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation.
The second ascent was made on June 3, 1974 by Sonam Pulzor, Kanhiya Lal, Dilip Singh, and Nima Dorje of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
The expedition was led by S. P. Chamoli. After unsuccessfully attempting the west ridge, they reached the summit via the north face, making three camps above base camp.
The third ascent of Nilkantha was in 1993 under Col. H.S. Chauhan by the north-east ridge; successful west ridge ascents were recorded in 2000 and 2001. In 2000 the west ridge was climbed by Martin Moran. In 2001, a team under Marko Prezelj climbed the same route.
The Himalayan Club, Calcutta claimed an ascent via the west ridge in 2007, but their climb was later shown to have stopped a few vertical metres short of the highest point on the mountain.
- Corrected SRTM data, available at Viewfinder Panoramas
- Garhwal-Himalaya-Ost, 1:150,000 scale topographic map, prepared in 1992 by Ernst Huber for the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, based on maps of the Survey of India.
- American Alpine Journal, 1956, p. 77
- Himalayan Index (However note that this incorrectly lists the 1961 expedition as an attempt, not a successful ascent.)
- American Alpine Journal 1962, p. 272. Online link.
- Neelkantha, Col. N. Kumar.
- American Alpine Journal, 1975, p. 208
- The issue of the 2007 Calcutta team not reaching the summit has been raised by the Himalayan Club, Bombay, which cannot formally establish or deny the authenticity of a climb in India. That authority lies with The Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), who have not yet formally rejected the claim.