Deep in Nepal’s Himalayas, the Kali Gandaki River has been flowing for millions of years, creating depths that are still somewhat unknown.
There’s a strange fascination with all things deep and uncertain in the world, such as the previously unexplored depths of Mariana’s Trench and the perfectly carved layers of the Grand Canyon. While these are two of the deepest points on the earth, there’s still one more that deserves some attention: Kali Gandaki Gorge.
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Known as the deepest gorge in the world, Kali Gandaki Gorge is estimated to be roughly 6,000 meters deep but the very bottom still has yet to be confirmed, while the mountains surrounding it reach an ultimate height of almost 6,000 meters (18,000 feet). This makes for an incredible visual for those who have the chance to visit and witness this incredible carved ridgeline. The gorge itself has had a long history before it and will likely continue to have a long history after, as the location itself is considered sacred in Nepal. With the Himalayas surrounding this river gorge, there are many vantage points from which to take it in, including at the shallower sections of the bottom where the view from below is absolutely humbling.
How The Gorge Was Formed
The gorge itself sits in between two monstrous mountains that sit on either side of it, making the gorge, and the river, their halfway point. Dhaulagiri, which has a summit height of 26,795 feet, sits to the west while Annapurna sits to the east with a summit height of 26, 545 feet. Interestingly enough, it was actually the river that came along before the mountains. The Kali Gandaki river has a whopping space of over 18,000 feet between its bottom and the rim of the mountains that surround it on either side.
This difference in height, as well as the creation of the gorge itself, can be traced back millions of years ago, as many natural features can be. The geology behind the creation of the gorge is quite unique, though, as a tectonic plate movement is what was responsible for pushing the land forward and up enough to elevate it, creating the Himalaya Massif. Throughout this entire natural movement, the river was powerful enough to cut through the differences in earth’s top layer and proceed on, thus cutting its way through the mountains into the trail we see today.
The river itself once served as a trade route between India and Tibet, giving traders the same incredible view that visitors would have nowadays if they were to visit. While the river does get shallow and much, much deeper in some parts of the gorge, it has continued its steady flow for centuries, only serving to deepen the gap between the mountain range. This power is appropriately named, as both the river and the gorge share the name of Kali, the Hindu goddess responsible for the forces of nature. In the deepest part of the gorge, the depth is still unknown but is estimated to be at least 6,000 meters deep, making this region somewhat of a mystery as well as an incredible depiction of what nature is capable of.
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Similar to Everest, the mountains on either side of the gorge also draw an audience every year. Year after year, thousands of people come from all over the world to witness the beauty and sheer power of this river gorge as well as the mountains that surround it. During the coldest parts of the year, both mountains are snow-covered, making for a majestic and striking landscape that few have the chance to witness. For those visiting the Kali Gandaki Gorge, it might just be a tourist trip; for those who live in the area and survive on the land surrounding this mountain range, the land is sacred and holds tremendous meaning to the indigenous peoples of Nepal.
In speaking to this sacred location, locals often travel down into the gorge to collect stones called saligrams, which are also said to be sacred. These stones are actually fossils leftover from a time when shellfish who dwelled in the river millions of years prior existed in abundance, leaving behind these unique, stone-like artifacts. In Nepal, it’s believed that these stones have healing powers. Throughout India, they’re sold with a monetary equivalence to, or more than, gold, due to the fact that they’re believed to be so powerful. This is something mainly done by locals as they know the routes in and out of the gorge, something that isn’t known to tourists. In fact, the only way that a tourist can actually reach the bottom of the gorge is with an experienced tour guide, due to the steep nature of its sides as well as the time it takes to navigate the terrain.
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About The Author
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Originally from New York, Katie is used to a fast-paced lifestyle. She got her personal start with writing in the second grade, and carried that passion with her until she won a spot in her high school’s published poetry book – but not before becoming the News Editor and columnist for the high school newspaper.
In college, she majored in English Literature with an emphasis in Political Science, soaking up most creativity and method from one of the last professors to study under famed beat poet Allen Ginsberg. The more she wrote, the more she learned about the world and, more importantly, herself.
She has been writing professionally and has been published since the age of 19, and for nearly a decade has covered topics in entertainment, lifestyle, music news, video game reviews, food culture, and now has the privilege of writing and editing for TheTravel.
Katie has a firm belief that every word penned is a journey into yourself and your own thoughts, and through understanding this, people can begin to understand each other. Through her voice, she brings personality, research, and a bit of friendly sarcasm to every piece she writes and edits.
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