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The Great Himalayan Mountain range, in Asia, is the home of world’s highest peaks and largest glaciers on the Earth. It is the Youngest Mountain range which was formed around 80 million years ago. It stretches over 2,400 kms from Assam in Eastern India to Pakistan in the West, and holds special mythological, cultural, traditional importance and has been protecting India as a gigantic guardian, from outside invasions for a long time. Himalaya is made up by combining two Sanskrit words; Him means Snow and Alaya which means Abode, ‘Abode of Snow’.

The Himalayas, which passes through 6 Nations; India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, China and Nepal, comprises 30 mountains and 9 of the highest peaks in the world. A place of thrilling sensations for mountaineers, home of rarest Flora and Fauna, a place of lush green forestry, a heaven on earth with divine spirituality; that is how Himalayas can be expressed in words. Let’s know about the origin and history of the Himalayan Mountain range in detail.

The Formation of Great Himalayas

The Origin of The Great Himalayas

The existence of the Himalayas is due to the powerful Earth movement between the Indo Australian plate and the Eurasian plates, around 80 millions years ago. The time is known as the Jurassic era, when India was a part of the Gondwana land in the southern hemisphere. Later it got separated from Gondwana and collided with Asia ( Laurasia region) and that’s how the great Himalayas and the Tibetan Himalayas were formed.
It is still in its developmental phase and considered as one of the most sensitive earthquake zones.

Geography of The Himalayas

Talking about its geography, the Himalayan Mountain range covers an area of 6,12,000 sq. kms altogether. The width of Himalaya ranges between 100-400 kms across 7 Indian States viz. J&k, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. World’s two most significant River systems; the Indus Basin and the Ganga-Brahmaputra Basin, originate from here. Further the Himalayas is divided into different parallel ranges from South to North as follows:

Sub Himalayas
Sub Himalayas is the youngest range of Himalaya with an average height of 900 to 1200 m. Which is made up of eroded matter from the rising Himalaya.

Lower Himalayas
This part of Himalaya has an average height of 3,700 m.

The great Himalayas
It is one of the oldest ranges of Himalaya with an average height above 6000 m. It comprises 9 out of 14 highest mountain peaks of the world including Mt. Everest, K2 and Kanchenjunga.

The Tibetan Himalayas
With an average height of 4000 to 4590 m this Himalayan range is known as the roof of the world.

The Karakorum range
It is the Northwest part of the great Himalaya.

Mountain Ranges of Himalayas

In order to understand various parts of the Himalayas, it’s necessary to learn about its 6 main mountain ranges. They are; Pir Panjal range, Dhaula Dhar range, Zanskar range, Ladakh range, East Karakoram range and Siwalik hills.

The Pir Panjal range is in the South of Main Himalayan, with an height of 5,000 m. It spreads from Gulmarg in the Northwest to the southern rim of Kashmir valley to the Banihal pass. While in the south of Pir panjal there lies Dhaula Dhar range. Zanskar range is in the north of the main Himalaya. Fatu La, Singge La and the Cha Cha La passes are situated in the Zanskar range.

The Ladakh range lies in the north of Leh and is an important part of the Trans- Himalayan range. Here lies some important passes such as Khardung La and Digar La. Further East Karakorum range divides India and Central Asia geographically and Siwalik Hills lie to the south of DhaulaDhar with an average height of 1,500 to 2,000 m. The famous Vaishno Devi temple is situated on Siwalik Hills.

Important Himalayan Peaks and Mountains

When we think about Himalayan peaks and mountains the first name the pops up in our mind is Mount Everest (8,848m), the highest peak in the world. It is known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Qomolangma in Tibet. The second highest peak is Mount K2 (8,611m) also known as ‘Austin Godwin’ located in Karakoram range and Third highest peak is Kanchenjunga, also called “the five treasures of the snow”, referring to the five Summits above 8,000 m. Another Peaks of Himalayan range are as follows;

Lhotas: 4th highest peak with an height of 8,516 m and located in the China and Nepal border.
Dhaulagiri Mountain: It is the 7th highest peak ( 8,201) in the world which is located in the Eastern-Nepal, Nepal and Tibet border. The word Dhaulagiri means ‘white mountains’.
Manaslu: Manaslu is a Sanskrit word which means ‘Mountain of the Spirit’. It is the 8th highest peak with an altitude of 8,156 m.
Nanga Parbat: It is the 9th highest mountain with 8,126 m located in regions of Baltistan, Karakoram Range Gilgit and Pakistan.
Annapurna: Annapurna (8,091m) is the 10th highest Mountain, located in Central-Nepal Himalayas.

The Great Himalayan Rivers

Several major rivers of Himalayas are the real lifelines of Indian agriculture. They not only provide fostered land for cultivation but also promote tourism by scenic beauty, various cultural aspects and tourist attractions on their banks. The major Himalayan rivers in India are Jhelum, Chenab, Beas, Ravi, Sutlej ( these 5 known as 5 sisters), Ganga, Yamuna and Brahmaputra.
These rivers are further categorised in two types; the perennially rain-fed and snow-fed rivers and that’s why they flow constantly round the year.

Facts on The great Himalayas for UPSC

Now it’s time to know some quick facts about Himalayan Mountain Range for your examination purpose.

  • Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summited the My. Everest for the first time in 1953.
  • Mt. Everest is named after Sir George Everest who was a British Surveyor-General of India.
  • The Siachen glacier with length of about 70 km is located at the border of India and Pakistan is the 3rd largest deposits of snow and ice after Antarctica and Arctic.
  • Some major National parks in the Himalayas are; the great Himalayan National Park, Namdapha, Jim Corbett, Royal Chitwan, Kaziranga National Park and Royal bardia National Park.
  • In 1856, twin cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa were discovered in the foothills of Himalayas.
  • The Ganges, the Indus, the Brahmaputra, the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Yellow rivers originate from either Himalaya or from Tibetan Plateau.
  • The climate in the Himalayas gets colder as the elevation increases and becomes wet as the elevation drops.
  • The Himalayas is geographically alive as the Indo-Australian plate is still moving at 67 mm per year.
  • In Nepal the Himalayas is known as ‘Sagarmatha’ which means ‘the goddess of the universe’ or ‘forehead of the sky’.
  • The trans-Himalayan region was a key centre for trade and commerce through the famous Silk route.


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