Arunachal Glaciers

“The journey was long and treacherous, but the breathtaking views made every step worth it. As we trekked through the mountains, we were greeted by lush green valleys and snow-capped peaks. The sound of the river flowing below us was like a soothing melody that kept us going. But nothing could prepare us for the moment we finally laid eyes on the glaciers.The glaciers were massive, glistening in the sunlight like giant diamonds. The ice was so clear that we could see the different shades of blue within it. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. We spent hours just admiring the beauty of these frozen rivers, each one unique in its own way.”

Sometimes it’s hard not to question whether certain parts of the world have been blessed with more natural beauty. The earth is home to many places that offer incredible experiences, stunning views, and breathtaking moments. Some tourist destinations boast majestic mountains and gorgeous valleys, while others, like deserts, have their own unique allure. Each location is special in its own way. While nature is in control of shaping different places, mankind have  played their part. 

There are few places that have it all, and Arunachal Pradesh is one of them. This state boasts picturesque landscapes that provide both relaxation and rejuvenation. It offers a balance of tranquility and adventure. Whether you’re looking for places of worship or wildlife sanctuaries, this state has it all.

Arunachal Pradesh, commonly referred to as the “Land of Dawn-lit-Mountains”, is India’s most remote state and the first to see the sunrise. Situated in the northeastern corner of India, it shares borders with China, Bhutan, and Myanmar. The state is known for its diverse array of flora and fauna, which includes over 500 rare species of orchids found in its dense jungles.

Location and Geology

In Arunachal Pradesh, glaciers are situated in the Great Himalayas ranges which run along the Tibetan-China border. All peaks here rise above 4500 meters and are covered by snow throughout the year.

Bichom Glacier

Bichom Glacier is a glacier located in the Himalayas, on the border between India and China. It is a part of the Siachen Glacier system, which is the second longest glacier outside of the polar regions. The Bichom Glacier is situated at an altitude of around 5,400 meters above sea level and has an estimated length of around 10 kilometers.

The Bichom Glacier is known for its unique and challenging terrain, which makes it a popular destination for mountaineers and adventure seekers. The glacier is surrounded by towering peaks and steep valleys, making it a difficult and dangerous place to explore. Despite this, the glacier has been the site of several successful climbing expeditions in recent years.

Kangto Glacier 

Kangto Glacier is a large glacier located in the Himalayas, in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. It is situated at an altitude of around 6,500 meters above sea level and has an estimated length of around 20 kilometers. The Yarlung Tsangpo River,originates from the Kangto glacier in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The Kangto glacier is located in specifically in the Nyenchen Tanglha mountain range. From there, the river flows through India and Bangladesh as river Brahmaputra, eventually emptying into the Bay of Bengal. The Brahmaputra is an important waterway for transportation and irrigation in the region, and is also a source of hydroelectric power. The glacier is a part of the larger Siang Glacier system, which includes several glaciers in the region. The Siang Glacier system is located in the eastern Himalayas and is a major contributor to the Siang River, which is the main tributary of the Brahmaputra River. It is known for its natural beauty and is a popular destination for trekking and hiking. The glacier is one of the most rapidly melting glaciers in the Himalayas, and its retreat has caused concern among scientists and local communities. The glacial melt also causes downstream flooding and landslides, affecting the people and infrastructure. The Siang glacier system is an important water source for the surrounding areas and it’s melting could have severe implications for the people and the environment in the region.

Significance and cultural heritage

The Bichom Glacier is also of significant scientific importance, as it is one of the few glaciers in the world that is still growing. This is due to the high altitude and cold temperatures in the region, which prevent the glacier from melting. Scientists have been studying the Bichom Glacier in order to learn more about the dynamics of glaciers and how they respond to changes in climate.

A special basin study report on Bichom river was released by the Government of India.The study of a river basin aims to understand its ability to support natural processes and sustain human activities. This includes evaluating the effects of resource extraction, industrial development, and population growth on the environment. The Bichom hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh, being developed by NEEPCO and approved by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, is currently under construction. The area experiences four seasons, with the monsoon season from June to August and the driest months from January to March. The annual rainfall during the monitoring period was 1190 mm, with the highest rainfall from June to September. The temperature in the study area varies with altitude, ranging from below freezing in the winter to 23oC in the hottest month of August. The area also experiences lifted fog, thunderstorms, and occasional cyclonic storms. The Bichom project will have an impact on the environment and it’s important to consider this impact and make sure that the project is sustainable in the long run. The study of the basin will help in identifying potential issues and mitigation measures.

The local people near the glaciers of Arunachal Pradesh are mainly ethnic groups such as Monpa, Sherdukpen, Memba, Adi, Tagin, Apatani, Nyishi, Galo, and Nishi. These groups have traditionally relied on the glaciers for their livelihoods and have a deep cultural connection to the land. They have been living in the region for centuries and have developed a unique way of life that is adapted to the rugged and mountainous terrain. They are mainly farmers, herders and hunter-gatherers, and they rely heavily on the natural resources of the region, especially the water resources that come from the glaciers, for their agriculture and livestock. They also practice traditional forms of worship, and have developed their own customs, languages, and traditional knowledge that are unique to their communities.

The Monpa are a people living in the Tawang and West Kameng districts of Arunachal Pradesh. They are mainly farmers, herders and hunters, and have a strong traditional religious culture, with a rich history of Buddhism.They practice a form of Buddhism known as the “Drukpa Kagyu,” which is a unique blend of Buddhism, Bon and local animist beliefs. They are known for their traditional wooden houses, unique architecture and beautiful Buddhist monasteries. The Sherdukpen people live in the West Kameng district. The Memba are a people living in the West Kameng and Tawang districts. They are known for their traditional agricultural practices and their rich cultural heritage, including traditional dances and festivals. They are also known for their traditional textiles and handicrafts.The Adi people live in the East Siang, West Siang, Upper Siang and Lower Siang districts. The Tagin people live in the Upper Subansiri and Lower Subansiri districts. The Apatani people live in the Lower Subansiri district. The Nyishi people live in the Kurung Kumey, Papum Pare and Lower Subansiri districts. The Galo people live in the West Siang and East Siang districts. The Nishi people live in the Lower Subansiri, Kurung Kumey and Papum Pare districts of Arunachal Pradesh..

The Siang is the largest river in India, flowing from Tibet’s Mansarovar Lake through the heart of Arunachal Pradesh, home to the Adi tribe. Known for their vibrant festivals, the Adis see the Siang as a symbol of power, energy and dynamism, controlled only by the god Donyi-Polo. To them, it not only provides water, but shapes their cultural identity and is a source of folktales, folksongs and folklores. The Siang has many names along its journey, such as the Yarlung Tsangpo or Zangbo in Tibet, Dihang in Arunachal and Assam, the Brahmaputra in Assam, Jumna, Padma, and Meghna in Bengal and Bangladesh. It is called Tsangpo from its source to Arunachal Pradesh, meaning a purifier. It is considered a sacred river by the Adi people as its water is used for purification and punishment of guilt. However, in recent years, the Siang river has been flowing with muddy waters, making it unfit for swimming and bathing.


Arunachal Pradesh is a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts, boasting numerous naturally rich sanctuaries and national parks. Some of the notable ones include: Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary, Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Kane Wildlife Sanctuary, Mouling National Park, Dr. D. Ering Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary, Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary, Dihang-Debang Biosphere Reserve, and Namdapha Wildlife Sanctuary.

The wildlife in Arunachal is incredibly diverse, offering the chance to spot animals such as Red Pandas, Himalayan Black Bears, and Gorals that are not commonly found in other parts of the country. Birdwatchers can also expect to see a variety of exotic and stunning species, such as White Winged Wood Ducks, Bengal Floricans, Temmincks Tragopans, Mishmi Wrens, and Sclater’s Monals.

Arunachal’s unique geographical zone, with its diverse topography and changing altitudes, has resulted in a diverse and valuable wildlife population. Rare and endangered species thrive in the seven wildlife sanctuaries and two national parks within the state.

The Bichom Glacier is also home to a wide variety of unique and fragile ecosystems. The glacier is home to a number of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, including the snow leopard and the Himalayan tahr. These species are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment and are at risk from the effects of climate change.

The Siang Glacier Sanctuary is a protected area located in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, in the Eastern Himalayas. The sanctuary covers an area of around 2,000 square kilometers and is home to a wide variety of unique and fragile ecosystems. The sanctuary is situated at an altitude of around 5,000-7,000 meters above sea level and is known for its rough and remote terrain.

The Siang Glacier Sanctuary is home to a number of important glaciers, including the Kangto Glacier and the Bichom Glacier. These glaciers are a critical source of water for the local communities, as well as for the downstream regions of the Brahmaputra River.

Also, the sanctuary is also home to a diverse array of bird species, some of which are found only in this region.

In recent years there have been efforts to implement ecotourism in this part of the region. Ecotourism is an approach to tourism that emphasizes the conservation of natural resources and the promotion of sustainable development. By promoting ecotourism in the Siang Glacier Sanctuary, it is possible to generate economic benefits for the local communities while also protecting the sensitive ecosystem.

In addition to this, there are endemic species found in this region like the The Arunachal macaque, a primate found only in the state’s West Kameng and East Kameng districts.The Arunachal bush warbler, a bird found in the state’s alpine and subalpine forests.The Bugun liocichla, a bird species found only in the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in the West Kameng district,The Bhutan glory, a butterfly found in the state’s high-altitude regions.The Himalayan cobra lily, a plant found in the state’s alpine and subalpine meadows


Despite its importance, the Bichom Glacier is facing a number of threats. The most significant threat is from climate change, which is causing the glacier to melt at an alarming rate. As the glacier melts, it is releasing large amounts of water into the surrounding rivers and streams, which can have a devastating impact on the local communities that rely on the water for irrigation and drinking.

Another major threat to the glaciers are human activity. The region is home to a number of military bases, as well as mining and hydroelectric projects. These activities can have a significant impact on the glacier, and can cause damage to the fragile ecosystems that depend on it.

Additionally, tourism in the region is also a threat as it can cause pollution and damage to the fragile ecosystem of the glacier.

Long term solutions 

The glaciers of Arunachal Pradesh have been least explored. It may be due to the fact that less people have gone to the state in last 50 years. With more roads, rails and airports being built in the North East, there is going to be an influx of tourists and common people in the state. To continue to preserve the glacier ecosystem and wildlife of Arunachal Pradesh, several steps need to be taken. 

Data based monitoring 

All the glaciers need to be monitored with data being gathered daily on the temperature, snowfall, rainfall etc. This data when analyzed for many years, can provide insightful understanding of what is actually going on in the glaciers. Being highly eco sensitive place, the data on birds, mammals and plant species also need to be gathered regularly to understand the implications on local wildlife. 

Controlled tourism

The tourism industry needs to be made aware of the damage they do when they have bring so many tourists to eco sensitive areas. Money cannot be the only thing that the glaciers make. The number of tourists need to be controlled every year and season and strict regulations need to be put in place to bring or not bring different items. 

Tree Plantation 

Tree plantation in and around the glaciers help to reduce carbon from the nearby areas and keep the temperatures cool. It also prevents erosion and further damage to the glaciers. Large scale tree plantations shall help in preserving the biodiversity of the glaciers and state as a whole. 


Overall, the glaciers of Arunachal Pradesh are a precious and important part of the Himalayas. It is a place of great beauty and adventure, but also a place that is facing serious threats from climate change and human activity. It is crucial that we take action to protect the glacier sand the unique ecosystems that depend on it. This includes reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and engaging in sustainable development in the region. Additionally, a complete ban on human activities in the glacier region will help preserve  the natural beauty of the glacier and prevent it from further deterioration. There have been efforts to promote sustainable development in the region, such as the use of renewable energy sources and the conservation of natural resources. 

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