- The North and Northeastern Mountains encompass the majestic Himalayas and the scenic Northeastern Hills. The Himalayas stand as the tallest and most rugged mountain range on Earth, with greater altitudinal variations in the eastern half compared to the western half.
- The southern slopes of the Himalayas are steeper than their northern counterparts. Separating the plains from the mountains is the Himalayan Front Fault (HFF). Not only do the Himalayas serve as a physical barrier, but they also act as a climatic, drainage, and cultural divide.
- The general alignment of these mountain ranges in India is northwest to southeast, except for the east-west direction in the Darjeeling and Sikkim regions and the southwest to northwest direction in Arunachal Pradesh. In Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram, the ranges run from north to south.
- Spanning approximately 2,400 kilometers, the Himalayas form an arc with a width ranging from 400 kilometers in Kashmir to 150 kilometers in Arunachal Pradesh.
- The longitudinal division of the Himalayas includes the Trans-Himalayas, the Greater Himalayas, the Lesser Himalayas, and the Shiwaliks.
- The Trans-Himalayas, approximately 40 kilometers wide, consist of Tethys sediments underlain by ‘Tertiary granite’. This region encompasses the Karakoram, Ladakh, and Zaskar Mountain ranges in India.
- The Greater Himalayas rise abruptly like an imposing wall, with a width of 25 kilometers and an average elevation above 6,100 meters.
- It is within this zone that towering peaks like Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, and Nanga Parbat are located. The Greater Himalayas form an almost continuous range, interrupted only by the presence of antecedent rivers.
- The Lesser Himalayas span around 80 kilometers in width, with an average elevation ranging from 1,300 to 4,600 meters.
- This region undergoes extensive erosion due to heavy rainfall, deforestation, and urbanization. The Shiwaliks, extending 10-50 kilometers in width, have an elevation ranging from 900 to 1,100 meters.
- Composed of unconsolidated sediments brought by rivers from the main Himalayan ranges further north, the Shiwaliks are absent beyond Nepal.
- The presence of landforms such as gorges, V-shaped valleys, rapids, and waterfalls indicates the youthful stage of the Himalayas.
- Besides the longitudinal divisions, the Himalayas have been divided on the basis of regions from west to east.
- These divisions have been generally demarcated by river valleys. On the basis of relief, alignment of ranges and other geomorphological features, the Himalayas can be divided into the five subdivisions.
Kashmir or Northwestern Himalayas:
- Covering an expansive area of approximately 350,000 square kilometers, the Kashmir Himalayas span about 700 kilometers in length and 500 kilometers in width.
- This region is situated between the Indus and Ravi rivers. With an average elevation of 3,000 meters, it boasts the highest concentration of glaciers in India, including renowned ones like Baltoro and Siachen glaciers.
- The Kashmir Himalayas consist of several ranges, such as the Karakoram, Ladakh, Zaskar, and Pir Panjal.
- The northeastern portion of the Kashmir Himalayas, known as Ladakh, is a cold desert nestled between the Greater Himalayas and the Karakoram ranges.
- It is one of the highest inhabited regions in the world. The picturesque Kashmir Valley and the famous Dal Lake lie between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal range.
- A distinct feature of the Kashmir Valley is the presence of Karewas formations, which are thick deposits of glacial clay and other materials mixed with moraines.
- These formations are highly suitable for saffron cultivation. The southernmost part of the region comprises longitudinal valleys known as ‘duns,’ including Jammu duns and Pathankot duns.
- Noteworthy mountain passes in the area include Zoji La in the Great Himalayas, Banihal in the Pir Panjal range, Photu La in the Zaskar range, and Khardung La in the Ladakh range.
- The region is also home to significant freshwater lakes like Dal and Wular, as well as saltwater lakes such as Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri.
- It encompasses revered pilgrimage sites like Vaishno Devi, Amarnath Cave, and Charar-e-Sharif. The capital city of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar, is located on the banks of the Jhelum River, adding to the region’s cultural and historical significance.
Himachal and Uttarakhand Himalayas:
- Encompassing an area of approximately 83,000 square kilometers, this region stretches over Himachal Pradesh.
- It showcases the three prominent ranges of the Himalayas: the Greater Himalayas, the Lesser Himalayas (known as Dhaoladhar in Himachal Pradesh and Nitibha in Uttarakhand), and the Shivalik Himalayas.
- The division is located between the Ravi and Kali rivers and is drained by two significant river systems, the Indus and the Ganga.
- The tributaries of the Indus, namely the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej rivers, as well as the tributaries of the Ganga, including the Yamuna and Ghaghara rivers, flow through this region.
- The northernmost part of the Himachal Himalayas extends as an offshoot of the Ladakh cold desert.
- Uttarakhand is home to notable glaciers like Gangotri, Milam, and Pindar. The northern slopes of this region are adorned with dense forests, plains, and lakes, while the southern slopes are rugged and covered in forests.
- The famous Valley of Flowers is also located within this section of the Himalayas. Two distinctive features of this region in terms of physiography are the ‘Shiwalik’ and ‘Dun formations,’ such as the Chandigarh-Kalka dun and Nalagarh dun.
- The Dehra Dun is the largest among all the duns, spanning approximately 35-45 kilometers in length and 22-25 kilometers in width.
- In the Great Himalayan range, the valleys are predominantly inhabited by the Bhotias, a nomadic group that migrates to the summer grasslands called ‘Bugyals’ in the higher reaches during the summer months and returns to the valleys during winter.
- Sacred pilgrimage sites such as Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath, and Hemkund Sahib are also situated in this part of the region.
- Additionally, the area is renowned for five famous Prayags, namely Vishnu Prayag, Nand Prayag, Karn Prayag, RudraPrayag, and DevPrayag, which occur in descending order along the flow of rivers.
- The altitude ranging between 1,000 and 2,000 meters in this section of the Lesser Himalayas attracted the attention of the British colonial administration, leading to the development of important hill stations like Dharamshala, Mussoorie, Shimla, as well as cantonment towns and health resorts such as Kasauli.
Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas:
- Bounded by the Nepal Himalayas in the west and the Bhutan Himalayas in the east, the Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas form a relatively small but highly significant part of the Himalayan range.
- Unlike other sections of the Himalayas, these regions, along with the Arunachal Himalayas, lack the Shivalik formations. Instead, the “duar formations” play a prominent role, which have been utilized for the cultivation of tea gardens.
- Renowned for its swift-flowing rivers such as the Teesta, this region is characterized by towering mountain peaks and deep valleys.
- The majestic Kanchenjunga (8,598 meters), the third-highest peak in the world, lies on the border of India and Nepal.
- The presence of passes is limited in this area, with Nathu-La and Jelep-La serving as the main routes connecting Gangtok (Sikkim) with Lhasa, Tibet (China).
- The higher reaches of this region are inhabited by the Lepcha tribes, while the southern part, particularly the Darjeeling Himalayas, is home to a diverse population including Nepalis, Bengalis, and tribes from Central India.
- Taking advantage of favorable physical conditions such as moderate slopes, thick soil cover with high organic content, well-distributed rainfall throughout the year, and mild winters, the British introduced tea plantations in this region.
- The Sikkim and Darjeeling Himalayas are renowned for their scenic beauty, abundant flora and fauna, and particularly for their diverse array of orchids.
- Extending from the eastern portion of the Bhutan Himalayas to the Diphu Pass in the east, the Arunachal Himalayas follow a general southwest to northeast direction.
- This region experiences a rapid elevation increase from the plains of Assam. Notable mountain peaks in the area include Kangtu and Namcha Barwa.
- The ranges are deeply dissected by swiftly flowing rivers that run from north to south, forming impressive gorges.
- The Brahmaputra River, after passing Namcha Barwa, flows through a deep gorge. Among the significant rivers in the region are the Kameng, Subansiri, Dihang, Dibang, and Lohit, all of which have perennial flow and possess a high hydroelectric power potential.
- Due to the region’s abundant rainfall, fluvial erosion is highly pronounced. Several important passes in this area include Bomdi La, Diphu, and Pangsau La.
- Notable tribes from west to east include the Monpa, Daffla, Abor, Mishmi, Nishi, and Nagas. Most of these communities engage in Jhumming, a form of shifting cultivation.
- The region is rich in biodiversity, which is protected and preserved by the indigenous communities. The rugged topography of the area limits inter-valley transportation, resulting in nominal linkages.
- As a result, interactions between communities are primarily conducted through the duar region along the Arunachal-Assam border
Eastern Hills and Mountains or Purvanchal:
- The Eastern Hills, also known as Purvanchal, form a part of the Himalayan mountain system. Along the southern border of Arunachal Pradesh, the Himalayas take a southerly turn, and the ranges are arranged in a north-south direction. These ranges are known by various local names.
- In the northern region, they are referred to as Patkai Bum in Arunachal Pradesh, Naga Hills in Nagaland, Manipur Hills in Manipur, and in the south, they are known as Mizo or Lushai Hills in Mizoram.
- The majority of these ranges are separated from one another by numerous small rivers. The Barak River holds significance in Manipur and Mizoram.
- The physiography of Manipur is characterized by a unique feature, a large lake known as Loktak Lake, situated at its center and surrounded by mountains from all sides.
- Mizoram, also known as the “Molasses Basin,” is composed of soft, unconsolidated deposits. Most of the rivers in Nagaland serve as tributaries to the Brahmaputra.
- These regions consist of low hills and are inhabited by diverse tribal groups who practice Jhum cultivation.
Q. What is Himalayan Geographic?
Ans. Himalayan Geographic is a term often used to refer to the geographical aspects and features of the Himalayan mountain range.
Q. Where are the Himalayan Geographic regions located?
Ans. The Himalayan Geographic regions span across several countries in South Asia, including India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and Pakistan.
Q. What are the primary physical features of the Himalayan Mountains?
Ans. The Himalayan Mountains are characterized by their towering peaks, deep valleys, glaciers, and a network of rivers and streams.
Q. How high are the Himalayan peaks?
Ans. The Himalayas include some of the world’s highest peaks, with Mount Everest being the tallest, standing at 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) above sea level.
Q. Where are the Himalayan Mountains located in India?
Ans. The Himalayan Mountains extend across the northern and northeastern parts of India. They are present in states like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
Q. What is the geography-based definition of the Himalayan Mountains?
Ans. In geography, the Himalayan Mountains are defined as a vast mountain range in Asia, characterized by its complex geological structure, high altitudes, and significant impact on regional weather patterns.
In case you still have your doubts, contact us on 9811333901.
For UPSC Prelims Resources, Click here
For Daily Updates and Study Material:
Join our Telegram Channel – Edukemy for IAS
- 1. Learn through Videos – here
- 2. Be Exam Ready by Practicing Daily MCQs – here
- 3. Daily Newsletter – Get all your Current Affairs Covered – here
- 4. Mains Answer Writing Practice – here