North of the Tibetan camps, and only 100kms away, is a high range of Himalayan peaks towering over the glaciers where the Ganges begins. When access to the old pilgrim routes was opened up it became possible to join the daily crowds of pilgrims in summer on the day's walk up to the glacier, and to climb up over moraines to a valley of alpine flowers at 4,000 metres and look across the glacier into the barren high uplands of western Tibet.
Four rivers join to form the Ganges: traditionally the Gaumukh ("mouth of the cow") Glacier is regarded as the main source, as it is overlooked by twin peaks resembling the ears of the cow. Gangotri as far into the mountains as the bus will go. Kedarnath is another mountain and shrine, south of Gaumukh.