Himalayas in India

Himalayan Mountains

How are Himalayas formed?

Mountain is a huge land parcel that is higher than the surrounding area.  Mountains are formed due to the movement of huge tectonic plates or by volcanic action. These forces – tectonic plate movement or volcanic action raise the surface of the earth gradually and such action over a longer periods of time result in formation of mountains. 

Mount Everest which is part of Himalayas is the tallest mountain on Earth, whose summit is 8,850 m above mean sea level. As on date, highest known mountain on any planet in the Solar System is Olympus Mons on Mars at 21,171 m.

Himalayas is a huge mountain range in Northern India that separates Indian sub continent from Tibet and rest of Asia. The Himalayas are spread across 5 countries namely India, China, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan. The Himalayan range that spreads over 2400Km consists of the highest peak including the Mount Everest. The Himalayan range is bordered by Karakorum in the North West, Hindu Kush in the North and Indo Gangetic plains in the South.   Western most peak of Himalayan range is Nanga Parbat, lies just south of Indus River with ~ 400 Km width and the eastern most peaks is Namcha Barwa, just west of the Tsangpo river with width of 150 kilometres.

Housing the tallest mountain on earth, one would expect Himalayas to be one of the oldest mountain ranges but in fact, they are one of the youngest mountain ranges in the world.

About 80 million years ago, India, which was part of Indo Australian plate, was 6400Km south of the Eurasian plate. Between India and the Eurasian plate was the huge Tethys Ocean. The Indo Australian plate which consisted of Australia, Indian subcontinent and surrounding ocean was pushed northwards by the convention currents of earth. Himalayas are born as a result of collision between Indo-Australian plate and Eurasian plate.

The Himalayan range principally consists of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. Around 50 million years ago the Indo Australian plate completely closed the Tethys Ocean with sedimentary rocks. The Tethys Ocean existed between the continent of Gondwana and Laurasia. Due to the deposition of land masses in to the Ocean from all sides, the ocean got completely closed. Today India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Indian Ocean cover the Tethys Ocean. The Himalayas are still moving upwards due to the movement of Indian tectonic plate moving in northward direction. The Himalayas are rising at an average of 1cm every year

Physical features of Himalayas in India

Physical features of Himalayas

Himalayas literally means ‘Hima’ meaning snow ‘Alaya’ meaning temple; temple or abode of snow.  Some of the highest mountain peaks in Himalayas are located in the India while others peaks are in Nepal or Bhutan.

The Himalayas can broadly be divided into 3 ranges viz. Himadri - the greater Himalayas, the lesser Himalayas - Himachal and the Shivaliks

Northern most part of the Himalayas are known as greater Himalayas or Himadri.  Most important and highest peaks such as Mount Everest, Nanga Parbhat, Kanchenjunga, Nanda Devi and Namch Barwa are present in this range. The average height of mountains in this range is 6000m. Some of the important glaciers in this range are Siachien, Gangotri, Yamunotri.  The range being northern most part and also having all highest peaks, the snow is dense in this range.  As a result of this most important and sacred rivers such as Ganges, Indus and Yamuna are born in this range. 

The lesser range of Himalayas lies to the South of greater Himalayas or Himadri. The altitude of the peaks in the lesser Himalayan range varies 3,700 - 4500m. Pir Pangal, Dhauladhar, Mussorie range are some of the important mountain ranges in this range. This range also known for some of the important hill stations are Shimla, Nanital, Kullu, Manali. Some of the great valleys in this range are Kashmir Valley, Kullu Valley and Kangara Valley.

The outer Himalayas or the Shivaliks are the youngest mountain also known as Manak parbhat during ancient times. The altitude of peaks in this range varies from 900 - 1100m.  Shivalik hills mainly composed of sandstones and conglomerate rocks. The northern part of Shivalik hills are called as Mahabharata Range which rise steeply along the fault lines. These ranges composed of sediments brought down by the rivers. The valleys lying between Himachal and Shivaliks are called as Duns. Some of the important ranges are Jammu hills in Jammu and Kashmir, Dalfa, Miri,  Abor, Patkai in Arunachal Pradesh.

Being the highest mountain range Himalayas is home to variety of flora and fauna.  The famous valley of hills/ Lohal Spiti valley are located in Himalayas.

Himalayas have always been a paradise as well as a great challenge to the mountain climbers around the world.  It is a treat to the eyes of the tourist to watch such huge snow capped Himalayas.

Climatic conditions in Himalaya

Fauna at Himalayas
Snow in the hilly mountains
Valley for flowers
Snow mountains

Climatic conditions:

As everyone knows flora and the fauna in any region is mainly dependent on the climatic conditions and the amount of rainfall it receives.  Most of the peaks in Himalayas with altitude more than 3,000m the peaks of the mountains are always filled with snow due to the high altitude.  The climate is generally tropical at the base of the mountains. Due to the diversified weather conditions the flora and fauna are quite unique and change for every 1,000m in altitude. The Himalayan forests, which mainly exist in Shivalik range, consists of Oak, Birch, Pine, and Deodar.  The combined effect of rainfall, temperature and altitudes influences the forest belt in the Himalayan region. The Himalayan region mainly experience summer season and winter season. Ladakh is also called as the cold desert experience very less rainfall. The Ladakh region remains cold to freezing cold for most part of the year; however summers are cool and pleasant. At the foothills of the Himalayas the average temperature may be 300 Celsius in summer and around 160 Celsius in winter.  With the increase in altitude the temperature decreases and it becomes freezing cold. Climatic conditions can change very quickly at higher altitudes. It can be said that the climatic conditions vary according to the altitude and location of the place.

However whatever may the climate the mighty Himalayas keep the dry snowy winds from blowing into the sub continent which keeps South Asia warmer. It also prevents the blowing away of the monsoon winds from India to North wards to China.  Thus Himalayas acts as a natural barrier from natural forces in preventing monsoon winds moving away from India/ protect the Indian subcontinent from icy cold winds from North.

Important places in Himalayas:  Mighty Himalayas have many places of importance from touristic point of view as well as religious point of view as well.

Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Srinagar, Leh, Ladakh, Badrinath, Rishikesh, Amarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kullu, Manali, Dharmasala many more. Important rivers that flow from Himalayas are Indus, Jelum, Ravi, Chenab, Beas, Sutlej, Saraswati, Ganga, Yamuna, Bramhaputra and Alaknanda.

Major peaks and other prominent peaks in India

Major peaks in the himalayas

        name                             rank                    country                        height (m)

  1. Mount Everest                  1                   Nepal/Tibet                           8,848
  2. K2                                    2                   Pakistan/China                      8,611
  3. Kanchenjunga                  3                   India/Nepal                            8,586
  4. Nanda Devi                     23                  India(Uttarakhand)                  7,816
  5. Kamet                             29                  India(Uttarakhand)                  7,756
  6. Saltoro Kangri                 31                  India (Uttarakhand)                 7,742
  7. Saser Kangri                   35                   India (J&K)                              7,672
  8. Hardoel                           -                    India (Uttarakhand)                 7,151
  9. Chaukhamba                   -                    India (Uttarakhand)                 7,138
  10. Trishul                             -                   India (Uttarakhand)                  7,120
  11. Neelakanth                      -                    India (Uttarakhand)                  6,596
  12. Shivling                           -                    India (Uttarakhand)                  6,543
Breath taking himalayas