The enchanting Nanda Devi peak is the second-highest mountain in India and the 23rd highest in the world. The peak has an elevation of 7,816 meters and is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. It is the highest mountain lying entirely in India as the Kanchenjunga is shared by India and Nepal.
Nanda Devi peak is encompassed by the Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park, a high-altitude national park, also a UNESCO world heritage site. There are many other high peaks of over 6,500 m elevation present in the park.
Nanda Devi is considered a Goddess in Uttarakhand. An avatar of Goddess Durga, Nanda Devi is believed to be married to Lord Shiva. Various interesting stories about Nanda Devi are prevalent in different parts of Uttarakhand.
Sometime in the 1960s, the American CIA with the help of the Indian Intelligence Bureau took an expedition to the peak in order to set up a nuclear-powered spying device to monitor the Chinese activities in the Indo-Tibetan region. The team met severe weather conditions and decided to retreat. The device was left behind with the thought of retrieving it later.
When they got back, the device was nowhere to be seen. It probably got buried deep inside snow or may have fallen down the mountain in an avalanche or landslide. Still to this date the device is missing. Some believe that it might be polluting the Ganges.
Nanda Devi peak was first scaled by Noel Odell and Bill Tillman, two English mountaineers in 1936. Because of its location and surrounding high mountains, it took more than five decades to even find a suitable starting point for the ascent.
The government of India currently does not allow climbing Nanda Devi. However climbing Nanda Devi east, also known as Sunanda Devi (7,434 meters) is permitted.
(Disclaimer: The disputed regions are not considered while ranking Nanda Devi’s elevation in India.)