King of Mountains: The Himalaya Mountain

Himalaya Mountain is a range of young fold mountain that stretches for nearly 2400km in northern part of India. Himalayan Mountain is home to world’s largest peak Mount Everest and separates Indian subcontinent from rest of the Asia, it is source of some of the largest river system on earth and has almost all the highest peaks of earth. It is one of the longest and highest mountain range of India. From ancient time Himalayas has played very vital role in India’s climate, culture and traditions many of the peaks sacred to Hinduism and Buddhism are located in this range and it is center to various Hindu mythology. In Hindi Himalayas is known as “Giri Raj” meaning King of Mountains while “Himalaya” is a Sanskrit word meaning “Adobe of Snow”.

Himalaya Mountain range running through northern part of India

Himalaya Mountain range running through northern part of India

From Jammu & Kashmir to Arunanchal Pradesh in India it covers an area of 595,000 sq. km in its 2400km length and width varies from 150km to 400km. Nanga Parbat in Jammu & Kashmir acts as its western anchor and Namcha Barwa in Arunanchal pradesh as its eastern anchor. Mountain range of the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram also surrounds it from north-western end .In north it is surrounded by Tibetan Plateau and in south by great Gangetic plains. During its entire length is crosses five countries which are India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and China but share of former three is very large in comparison to later two. The Himalayan range is source to rivers like Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra, almost all type of climate and vegetation is found here and it plays very important role in climate of India by preventing cold winds to enter in northern part of India and preventing Monsoon winds to blow away from India. Mount Kailash located in Tibetan part of Himalayas is sacred peak to both Hindus and Buddhist.

Formation of Himalayan Mountain Range according to plate tectonic theory

Formation of Himalayan Mountain Range according to plate tectonic theory

Origin and Present State: The Himalaya Mountain was formed due to the collision of European plate with Indian plate some 65 million years ago and huge landmass uplifted during this process led to the formation of Himalayan Mountain range. So the Himalayan range belongs to one of the youngest mountain ranges of the world and it is still growing with approx. 5-7 mm every year. Since Indian plate is still moving this region is highly prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. This mountain range has almost all the highest peaks in world and gorges formed are some of the deepest, excluding K2 Peak which is in Karakoram Range all top ten peaks of world comes under Himalayan range.

Classification of Himalayas: Though there is no standard method for classification of Himalaya Mountain Range but for the purpose of better study they can be categorized into western, central and eastern Himalayas. The Himalaya Mountain Range can also be classified on the basis of height and they are as follow

  • Outer or Sub-Himalayas (The Siwalik Range)
  • Lesser or Lower Himalayas (The Himanchal Range)
  • The Great Himalayas (The Himadri Range)

Sometimes one more classification is added by including Tibetan Himalayas that include the southern edge of Tibetan Plateau. Western Himalayas include the area of Jammu & Kashmir, Pir Panjal, Ladakh and Balistan and gilit region. The central Himalayas extends from Jammu & Kashmir to Sikkim and include the area of Himachal, Garhwal, Punjab and Nepal. The eastern Himalayas extend from Sikkim to Assam and include the part of range running in Bhutan, Arunanchal Pradesh and Assam.

Source of Fresh Water/Rivers: The Himalaya Mountain range is source of some of the largest rivers in India as well as in the world. It is also the largest source of fresh water on earth after the Polar Regions. After Antarctica and Arctic it has third largest deposit of ice and snow on earth. It contains some of the largest glaciers of the world and count goes as high as 15000 glaciers including Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers. Rivers originating from Himalaya Mountain are perennial and they have water for almost every part of year. Almost one-fifth of world population depends on water from Himalayan system. Himalayas Basin is drained by nearly 19 rivers and they can be grouped into three major river systems of Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra. Apart from rivers Himalayan range has large number of fresh water lake. Some important lakes include Tilicho, Pangong Tso and Yamdrok Tso Lake.

Flora & Fauna: Himalayan animal life and vegetation is very rich and a wide variety of plants and animal can be found there. The type of plant life changes with the change in height of mountain range from tropical to alpine, and so is the case with animal life. Eastern Himalayas is densely covered with forest range due to 2 factors 1: They are smaller in elevation as compared to western counterpart and 2: They get huge amount of rainfall due to monsoon winds. In western Himalayas predominantly Deodar, Sal trees are found. The animal life varies with elevation and elephants and rhinoceroses are found in lower Himalayan region also called Terai Region. Other important animals found are Kashmiri Stag, Black Bear, Langur, Musk Dear, snow leopards and Tibetan Yak. Yak is mostly domesticated and used as means of transportation. Many of animals found in Himalayan region are on the verge of extinction and they need to be taken proper care.

Impact on Climate: Himalayas plays very important role in regulating the climate of Indian sub-continent. The cold wind blowing from northern part of Asia is being stopped by mountains and thus the Indian subcontinent remains warm. They force Monsoon winds to shed their water inside India’s territory and thus these areas receive some of the highest rainfall in world. As the windward side of mountain doesn’t get enough rainfall we can see that there has been desert in those areas like Gobi and Taklamakan Desert.

Centre of Religion: Many of Himalayan peaks are sacred to both Hinduism and Buddhism, at there is sites that are sacred to religions like Sikhism, Jainism. In Hindu mythology Himalayas is regarded as father of River Ganges and Goddess Parvati. In Buddhism Paro Taktsang is holy site where Buddhism was started in Bhutan. There are many Buddhist Monasteries, mosque and temples are situated and are home to Dalai Lama. In lower Himalayas some important cities are situated that are central to Hinduism. Mount Kailash is very sacred peak and it is said that no one is allowed to climb this peak. In Hinduism it is assumed that Lord Shiva resides on Mount Kailash.

Passes in Himalayas: There are many passes in Himalayas that helps in quick connectivity. Passes in Himalayas are amongst highest in world they are covered by snow for almost half of the year they are accessible in the months of summer between Marchs to August. Some Important passes include Banihal Pass, Rohtang Pass, Mana Pass and Gangtok Pass.

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