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The Great Himalayas



Northern Mountain Wall of India

The Himalayas, geologically young and structurally fold mountains stretch over the northern borders of India. These mountain ranges run in a west-east direction from the Indus to the Brahmaputra. These mountain ranges are called as the Northern Mountain Wall of India. 


Natural vegetation and animals of Northern Mountain Region

Natural vegetation: Over 52% of total area of the Indian Himalayan region is covered by forests. Himalayan vegetation can be broadly classified into four types - tropical, subtropical, temperate and alpine. 
Animals: Asiatic black bears, langurs, Himalayan goats, antelopes and Indian rhinoceros are some of the animals found in the Northern Mountain region.


Himadri range of northern mountain

The Great Himalayas or Himadri is the most continuous, loftiest and northernmost range of the Himalayas. The snow clad mountain ranges rise in height upto 6000 metres and are covered with snow. It is a source of a large number of glaciers of varying dimensions. The Great Himalayan range runs in a northwest to southeast direction in the western part.


Himachal range of northern mountain

The Lesser Himalayas or Himachal Range lies to the North of Shivalik range and it's altitude is up to 4500 m. It comprises Pir Panjal range in Kashmir and Dhaula-dhar in Himachal Pradesh. Being accessible from the plains and having moderate elevation the lesser Himalayas have maximum number of tourist attractions. The valleys of Kashmir, Kullu-Manali and Kangra are the best examples.


Siwaliks range of northern mountain

It is also called the Outer Himalayas. It is not a continuous range. The slopes facing the subcontinent are steep while those facing north are gentle. It is known as Jammu hills in Jammu and Miri, Abor and Mishmi hills in Arunachal Pradesh. the average elevation is about 1000 m above sea level.


Other important features of the Himalayas

Doons:  Doon is a local word for valley. They were originally temporary lakes. When the lakes dried up, the debris and boulders filled them up and turned them into valleys.
Bhabhar areas: These are porous, gravel-ridden plains at the foot of the Himalayas.
Terai: It is a strange terrain- an area consisting of marshy underground seepage.
Khadar and Bhangar: The new alluvium brought down by the rivers in low-lying zones is known as Khadar and the older alluvium in riverbeds in the form of terraces is known as Bhangar.


Significance of the Great Northern Wall

The Himalayas act as an effective barrier by blocking the inflow of cold, dry air masses into the north during winter. The glaciers in the Himalayas which give rise to perennial rivers like the Ganga, Yamuna, Kosi, etc. provide water for drinking as well as irrigation in the north- Indian plains. The rivers originating in the Himalayas are a major source of hydel power. The Himalayas act as a barrier to the invaders. They have made communication with the neighbouring countries a difficult process. It attracts thousands of tourists from India and abroad. A number of sacred shrines are also located in the Himalayas. They are also a great attraction for adventure seekers. The Himalayas are rich in forest resources. The Himalayas have rich resources of minerals such as copper, lead, nickel, etc. 


Differentiate between Western and Eastern Himalayas

Western HimalayasEastern Himalayas
1. They are located between the Indus and Kali rivers.They are located between the Tista and Brahmaputra rivers.
2. Average rainfall-100 cm.Average rainfall- More than 200 cm.
3. Three distinct ranges- the Himadri, Himachal and Shiwalik.Last two ranges- Himachal and Shiwalik merge into one another.
4. Covered with coniferous forests.Covered with thick evergreen forests.


Features of Trans Himalayas

  1. The Trans-Himalayan ranges are also called the Tibetan Himalaya because most of it lies in Tibet.
  2. The Zaskar, the Ladakh, the Kailas and the Karakoram are the main ranges.
  3. It stretches for a distance of about 1,000 km in east-west direction.
  4. Average elevation is 3000 m above mean sea level.
  5. The average width of this region is 40 km at the extremities and about 225 km in the central part.
  6. The Nanga Parbat (8126m) is an important range which is in the Zaskar Range.
  7. North of the Zaskar Range and running parallel to it is the Ladakh Range. Only a few peaks of this range attain heights of over 6000 metres.
  8. The Kailas Range in western Tibet is an offshoot of the Ladakh Range. The highest peak is Mount Kailas (6714m). River Indus originates from the northern slopes of the Kailas range.
  9. The northern most range of the Trans-Himalayan Ranges in India is the Great Karakoram Range also known as the Krishnagiri range.