Posted on: 25 June 2013

The Cow's Mouth, source of the Ganges - 1867

This chromolithograph is taken from plate 13 of William Simpson's 'India: Ancient and Modern'. The source of the Ganges lies at 13,000 feet above sea level, in the forty-kilometer long Gangotri glacier in the Himalayas. It springs from a cavern called Gaumukh, meaning 'Cow's Mouth', because of its shape. The glacier is one of the more accessible in the Himalayas and pilgrims trekked to this sacred spot.

Copyright © The British Library Board

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So beautiful!Thank you, very much!

Thomas Roe heard about "Gaumukh" too but didnt get to go there. Jehangir took him to Lahore, from Agra. So the famous Baffin-Roe map of 1619( East India co.'s 1st map) actually show's a "Cow's Mouth" lake, near the city of " Hardware" . Roe actually didnt get to see the Himalayas. Directionally, he thought them to be much further than the actual location vis-a-vis Agra & Lahore. This cartographic error lasts in almost all european maps for the next 100+ years , until French cartographer, d'Anville & then young James Rennell correct it. ( See - Gaumukh here - ) . A ravine in the shape of a cow's mouth ? Just imagination or a legacy of the mapping ? ... No local folklore about such a ravine, to the best of my knowledge. Anyone been to this place or have heard about such a cow-mouth shaped ravine ...

Lovely! And thank you, Ratnesh Mathur, for valuable information I would not have ever found on my own!

Thank you, Padmini Smetacek for the affirmation on Bhimtal temple. We were just wondering about the first family of Bhimtal, the Smetaceks , when we saw that gorgeous Bhimtal painting on RBSI. So good to see you here ..