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Asia, India, Garhwal, Names in the Gangotri Region

Names in the Gangotri Region. The glaciers of the area are often named for their appearance. “Varn,” meaning “colour of the skin or complexion,” appears in several glacier names. Raktavarn Bamak (Reddish Complexion Glacier), Swetvarn (White Complexion) and Shyamvarm (Blackish Complexion) seem to conform in their colour to these names. Swetvarn also refers to Rama, one of the incarnations of Vishnu, the preserver, namely “The God with the White Complexion.” Another incarnation of Vishnu is Krishna, also known as Shyamvarm, “The God with the Blackish Complexion.” The peaks’ names are mostly based on Hindu Gods and their attributes:

Chaukhamba = Brahma, the Creator.

Shivling = the penis of Shiva, the destroyer and renewer of life.

Sudarshan Parbat. Sudarshan is the weapon of Lord Krishna or Vishnu.

Parbat = mountain, a name tied to Parvati, Shiva’s consort. Chaturbhuj = one with four hands. This is one of the names for Vishnu, who has four hands and holds the Sudarshan. The peak has four distinct ridges falling off in four directions.

Yogeshwar. A name for Krishna when serene. It thus applies to this high, snowy peak.

Saife = the sword carried by Rama.

Koteshwar = God of the Edges. The mountain has sword-edge-like ridges.

Harish Kapadia, Himalayan Club