The Kali Gandaki Gorge Is On A Route Often Used By Himalayan Climbers
The Kali Gandaki, known locally as Andha Galchi, is a stunning gorge in the Himalaya Mountains of Nepal.
Some experts state that it is the deepest gorge in the world however, there has always been disagreement about this as no one has the definitive answer as to where to measure the rim height from.
The Kali Gandaki River Valley (Photo by John Pavelka)
The gorge actually divides two massive mountains. To the west is Dhaulagiri 26,795 feet (8,167 metres) high, while to the west lies the majestic peak of Annapurna standing at 26,545 feet. (8,091 metres)
The Kali Gandaki river, which runs between them, stands at an elevation of 8,265 feet. (2520 metres) So theoretically there is a difference of over 18,000 feet (5,487 metres) between the gorge floor and the rims - that is, if you take the mountain tops as the rims of this gorge!
Whichever way you choose to judge the Kali Gandaki, it really is a truly impressive place, located in a wonderful region.
The Kali Gandaki Gorge
The gorge was created by a river which is older than the mountains themselves. Millions of years ago, tectonic movements slowly forced the land upwards to create the Himalaya Massif. While this was happening, the river continued on its course cutting its way through the gradual uplift.
The Kali Gandaki River has its source on the border with Tibet (now part of China) in northern Nepal. It then flows south through the Kingdom of Mustang, skirts the western edge of the Annapurna Conservation Area, past the city of Baglung and down to the southern border of Nepal before entering India.
In southern Nepal the river is known as the Narayani and when it reaches India, to the south, it is called the Gandak. There it becomes a left bank tributary of the Ganges, the holy river of the Hindus.
Suspension Bridge Over The Kali Gandaki River (Photo by Andrew Hyde)
Like mountain passes the world over, the Kali Gandaki Gorge has always been an important trade and travel route. Goods between Tibet and India have passed this way, on the backs of mules and men, for centuries.
Today, the gorge is on a popular trekking route from Pokhara to Muktinath known as the Annapurna Circuit.
The river is also used by whitewater rafting and canoeing enthusiasts. Local outfits run trips along a 57 mile stretch between Baglung and the dam at Marmin.
The gorge is also part of the Annapurna Conservation Area which was set up in 1986 by the Nepal National Trust for Nature Conservation. As more and more people enter this once remote region, it is important that what originally attracted them there is preserved for the future.
Looking Toward Annapurna From Pokhara
Many of the visitors to the region are trekkers and Himalayan climbers with Annapurna as their goal.
However, climbing here is not easy. As at the end of 2009 there had been 157 successful ascents to the summit of Annapurna but there were also 60 deaths on the mountain.
This ratio of fatalities to summit ascents is the highest in the world for any mountain over 8,000 metres. The route via the south face is thought to be one of the most difficult climbs in the world.
Climbing Annapurna is certainly extremely dangerous but there are still many who are willing to try.
Here is the location of the Kali Gandaki Gorge on a map of Nepal, it is marked with a red star.