The Alaknanda is a Himalayan river in the Indian state of Uttarakhand and one of the two headstreams of the Ganga, 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.
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 Glacierreceded 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 Glacier 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.