The Great Himalayan Mountain Range is one of the most iconic and majestic mountain ranges in the world. It spans across several Asian countries, including India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and Pakistan. The Himalayas are renowned for their breathtaking landscapes, stunning peaks, and cultural significance.
Some key features and facts about the Great Himalayan Mountain Range:
- Geographic Extent: The Himalayan range stretches over 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) from the western part of Pakistan to the northeastern region of India, culminating in Myanmar. It serves as a natural boundary between the Indian subcontinent and the Tibetan Plateau of China.
- World’s Highest Peaks: The Himalayas are home to some of the highest peaks on Earth. Mount Everest, standing at 8,848 meters (29,029 feet), is the highest point on the planet. Other notable peaks include K2 (Mount Godwin-Austen) at 8,611 meters (28,251 feet), Kangchenjunga at 8,586 meters (28,169 feet), and Lhotse at 8,516 meters (27,940 feet).
- Three Parallel Ranges: The Great Himalayan Mountain Range consists of three parallel ranges: the Greater Himalayas, the Lesser Himalayas (also known as the Inner Himalayas or Himachal), and the Outer Himalayas (also called the Siwaliks). The Greater Himalayas are the northernmost and highest, while the Outer Himalayas are the southernmost and lowest.
- Glaciers and Rivers: The Himalayas are a source of numerous major river systems that provide water to millions of people in the region. Some of the prominent rivers originating from the Himalayas include the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Yamuna, and many others. Additionally, the Himalayas contain a vast number of glaciers, including the Gangotri, Zemu, and Siachen glaciers.
- Biodiversity: The Himalayan region boasts exceptional biodiversity due to variations in altitude and climatic conditions. It is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including rare and endangered species like the snow leopard, red panda, Himalayan tahr, and various species of rhododendrons.
- Cultural and Spiritual Significance: The Himalayas hold deep cultural and spiritual significance for the people of South Asia. The region is dotted with numerous sacred sites, monasteries, and temples, and it is considered the abode of several Hindu and Buddhist deities. Many ancient pilgrimage routes and trails traverse the Himalayan foothills.
- Adventure Tourism: The Himalayas attract adventure enthusiasts from all around the world for activities such as trekking, mountaineering, rock climbing, skiing, and paragliding. Popular trekking routes include the Everest Base Camp trek, the Annapurna Circuit trek, and the Kashmir Great Lakes trek, among others.
- Geological Formation: The Himalayas are relatively young mountains, geologically speaking, having formed around 50 million years ago due to the collision of the Indian tectonic plate with the Eurasian plate. The ongoing tectonic movement continues to shape the region and occasionally causes earthquakes.
Important ranges of the Himalayas
- Also known as Outer Himalayas.
- Located between the Great Plains and the Lesser Himalayas.
- The altitude varies from 600 to 1500 meters.
- Spans a distance of 2,400 km from the Potwar Plateau to the Brahmaputra Valley.
- Southern slopes are steep, while the northern slopes are gentle.
- Width varies from 50 km in Himachal Pradesh to less than 15 km in Arunachal Pradesh.
- An almost unbroken chain of low hills, except for a gap of 80-90 km with the Tista River and Raidak River valleys.
- Forest-covered from North-East India to Nepal, but forest cover decreases westwards from Nepal due to reduced rainfall.
- Southern slopes in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have limited forest cover and are dissected by seasonal streams called Chos.
- Valleys are part of synclines, while hills are part of anticlines or anti-synclines.
The Middle or Lesser Himalayas
The Middle or Lesser Himalaya, also known as Himachal or Lower Himalaya, lies between the Shiwalik Range in the south and the Greater Himalayas in the north. It runs almost parallel to both ranges. Some key characteristics of the Middle Himalayas:
- Width and Length: The Lower Himalayan ranges are 60-80 km wide and approximately 2400 km in length.
- Elevations: Elevations in this region vary from 3,500 to 4,500 m above sea level. Many peaks exceed 5,050 m and remain snow-covered throughout the year.
- Slopes: The southern slopes of the Lower Himalayas are steep and bare, which prevents soil formation. In contrast, the northern slopes are more gentle and covered with forests.
- Geographical Markers: In Uttarakhand, the Middle Himalayas are represented by the Mussoorie and Nag Tibba ranges. The Mahabharat Lekh in southern Nepal is a continuation of the Mussoorie Range.
- Eastern Region: East of the Kosi River, the Lower Himalayas encompass the Sapt Kosi, Sikkim, Bhutan, Miri, Abor, and Mishmi hills.
- Human Contact: The Middle Himalayan ranges are more accessible to human contact compared to the higher Himalayas.
- Hill Resorts: Many famous Himalayan hill resorts such as Shimla, Mussoorie, Ranikhet, Nainital, Almora, and Darjeeling are located in this region.
- Pir Panjal Range and Dhauladhar Range are some of the important ranges in this section.
Important valleys in this Himalayan region.
- Kashmir Valley: Located between the Pir Panjal and Zaskar Range of the main Himalayas, the Kashmir Valley is known for its breathtaking beauty. The valley floor is a synclinal basin floored with alluvial, lacustrine (lake deposits), fluvial (river action), and glacial deposits. The Jehlum River meanders through these deposits and cuts a deep gorge in Pir Panjal to drain the valley, which makes it resemble a basin with limited outlets.
- Kangra Valley: Situated in Himachal Pradesh, the Kangra Valley is a striking valley that extends from the foot of the Dhaola Dhar Range to the south of the Beas River. It is known for its picturesque landscapes and is an essential agricultural region.
- Kulu Valley: Located in the upper course of the Ravi River, the Kulu Valley is a transverse valley. It is famous for its natural beauty, and lush greenery, and is a popular tourist destination.
The Great Himalaya, also known as Inner Himalaya, Central Himalaya, or Himadri, is a prominent mountain range in the Himalayan region. Some key features of the Great Himalayas:
- Average Elevation and Width: The Great Himalayas has an average elevation of 6,100 m above sea level and an average width of about 25 km.
- Geological Composition: It is mainly composed of central crystallines like granites and gneisses, which are overlain by metamorphosed sediments, including limestone.
- Topography: The folds in this range are asymmetrical, resulting in a steep south slope and a gentle north slope, giving rise to a distinctive ‘hogback’ topography, characterized by long, steep hills or mountain ridges.
- Curvature: Similar to the other Himalayan ranges, this mountain arc convexes to the south.
- Termination Points: The Great Himalaya terminates abruptly at two syntaxial bends. One is located at Nanga Parbat in the northwest, and the other is at Namcha Barwa in the northeast.
- Tallest Peaks: The Great Himalayas boasts some of the tallest peaks in the world, many of which remain perpetually covered with snow.
The Trans Himalayas, also known as the Tibetan Himalayas, lie immediately north of the Great Himalayan range and are mostly located in Tibet. Some important features of the Trans Himalayas:
- Main Ranges: The main ranges in the Trans Himalayas include the Zaskar Range, Ladakh Range, Kailas Range, and Karakoram Range.
- Geographic Extent: The Trans Himalayas stretch for a distance of about 1,000 km in the east-west direction.
- Average Elevation: The average elevation in this region is approximately 3,000 m above mean sea level.
- Width: The average width varies from 40 km at the extremities to about 225 km in the central part.
- Nanga Parbat: The Zaskar Range houses an important peak called Nanga Parbat (8,126 m).
- Ladakh Range: North of the Zaskar Range is the Ladakh Range, with only a few peaks reaching heights of over 6,000 meters. The Kailas Range is an offshoot of the Ladakh Range, and Mount Kailas (6,714 m) is its highest peak. The River Indus originates from the northern slopes of the Kailas Range.
- Karakoram Range: The Great Karakoram Range is the northernmost range in the Trans-Himalayas in India. It extends eastwards from the Pamir for about 800 km. The Karakoram is known for its lofty peaks, with elevations of 5,500 m and above. Some of its peaks are more than 8,000 meters above sea level. The famous peak K2 (8,611 m), also known as Godwin Austen or Qogir, is the second-highest peak in the world and the highest peak in the Indian Union.
- Ladakh Plateau: Located to the north-east of the Karakoram Range, the Ladakh Plateau is dissected into several plains and mountains, including the Soda Plains, Aksai Chin, Lingzi Tang, Depsang Plains, and Chang Chenmo.
The Purvanchal Hills, also known as the Eastern Hills, are the southward extensions of the Himalayas running along the northeastern edge of India. Here are some key features of the Purvanchal Hills:
- Location: The Purvanchal Hills are located along the India-Myanmar Border, extending from Arunachal Pradesh in the north to Mizoram in the south.
- Formation: At the Dihang Gorge, the Himalayas take a sudden southward bend and form a series of comparatively low hills collectively called the Purvanchal Hills.
- Convexity: The Purvanchal Hills are convex to the west.
- Patkai Bum Hills: Made up of strong sandstone, the Patkai Bum Hills have elevations varying from 2,000 m to 3,000 m. They merge into the Naga Hills, where the highest peak, Saramati, stands at 3,826 m.
- Watershed: The Patkai Bum and Naga Hills form the watershed between India and Myanmar.
- Manipur Hills: Located south of the Naga Hills, the Manipur Hills generally have elevations of less than 2,500 meters. The Barail Range separates the Naga Hills from the Manipur Hills.
- Jaintia, Khasi, and Garo Hills: Further south, the Barail Range swings to the west into the Jaintia, Khasi, and Garo Hills, which are an eastward continuation of the Indian peninsular block. They are separated from the main block by the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers.
- Mizo Hills: Located south of the Manipur Hills, the Mizo Hills (previously known as Lushai Hills) have an elevation of less than 1,500 meters. The highest point in the Mizo Hills is the Blue Mountain with an elevation of 2,157 m.
How many Himalayan ranges are there?
The Himalayan range is made up of three parallel ranges often referred to as the Greater Himalayas, the Lesser Himalayas, and the Outer Himalayas
2. Which is the highest Himalayan range?
The Great Himalayas, also known as the Higher Himalayas or Great Himalayas Range, are the tallest and most northern mountains in the Himalayas.