You are on page 1of 9

8/14/12

Himalayas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Himalayas
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 2800N 8200E

The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains ( /hmle./ or /hmlj/;[1][2] Sanskrit: Devanagari: , Urdu: ,literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya, is a mountain range immediately to the north of the Indian subcontinent. By extension, it can also refer to the massive mountain system that additionally includes the Karakoram, the Hindu Kush, and other lesser ranges that extend out from the Pamir Knot. Some of the world's major river systems arise in the Himalayas, and their combined drainage basins are home to some 3 billion people (almost half of the Earth's population) in 18 countries. The Himalayas have profoundly shaped the cultures of South Asia; many Himalayan peaks are sacred in Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Geologically, the Himalayas originate from the northward movement of the Indian tectonic plate at 15 cm[citation needed] per year to impact the Eurasian continent, with first contact about 70 million years ago, and with movement continuing today. This caused the formation of the Himalayan arc peaks: the lighter rocks of the seabeds of that time were easily uplifted into mountains. An oftencited fact used to illustrate this process is that the summit of Mount Everest is made of marine limestone.[3]

Himalayas

The north face of Mount Everest as seen from the path to the base camp in Tibet Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China. Highest point Peak Elevation Coordinates Mount Everest (Nepal and China) 8,848 m (29,029 ft) 275917N 865531E Geography

Contents
1 Geography 2 In Hindu mythology 3 Ecology 4 Geology 5 Hydrology 5.1 Lakes 6 Impact on climate 7 Impact on politics and culture 8 Religion 9 See also 10 References
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayas

The general location of the Himalayas mountain range. Countries List

1/9

8/14/12

Himalayas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

11 Further reading 12 External links

Geography
See also: List of Himalayan peaks and passes Overall, the Himalayan mountain system is the world's highest, and is home to the world's highest peaks, the Eightthousanders. To comprehend the enormous scale of this mountain range, consider that Aconcagua, in the Andes, at 6,962 metres (22,841 ft), is the highest peak outside Asia, whereas the Himalayan system includes over 100 mountains exceeding 7,200 metres (23,622 ft).[4] There are 14 Himalayan peaks with elevation over 8,000 metres (26,000 ft). The five highest peaks in the Himalaya are: Everest, 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) K2, 8,611 metres (28,251 ft) Kangchenjunga, 8,586 metres (28,169 ft) Lhotse, 8,516 metres (27,940 ft) Makalu, 8,462 metres (27,762 ft) The main Himalayan range runs west to east, from the Indus river valley to the Brahmaputra river valley, forming an arc 2,400 km (1,500 mi) long, which varies in width from 400 km (250 mi) in the western Kashmir-Xinjiang region to 150 km (93 mi) in the eastern Tibet-Arunachal Pradesh region. The range consists of three coextensive subranges, with the northernmost, and highest, known as the Great or Inner Himalayas.

NASA Landsat-7 imagery of Himalayas

In Hindu mythology
In Hindu mythology, Himavat is the God of snow, a personification of the Himalayas, which are also known as Himavat Mountains. He is the ruler of Himalaya Kingdom, which finds mention the epic Mahabharata. He is father of daughter, Ganga (Ganges), Saraswati who became rivers and Parvati, who married Shiva [5]

Ecology
Main article: Ecology of the Himalaya The flora and fauna of the Himalayas vary with climate, rainfall, altitude, and soils. The climate ranges from tropical at the base of the mountains to permanent ice and snow at the highest elevations. Owing to the latitude near the Tropic of Cancer, the permanent snow line is among the highest in the world at typically around 5,500 metres (18,000 ft) - for comparison, equatorial mountains in New Guinea and the Rwenzoris have a snow line some 900 metres (2,950 ft) lower. The amount of yearly rainfall increases from west to east along the southern front of the range. This diversity of altitude, rainfall and soil conditions combined with the very high snow line supports a variety
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayas 2/9

8/14/12

Himalayas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

of distinct plant and animal communities. For example the extremes of high altitude (low atmospheric pressure) combined with extreme cold allow extremophile organisms to survive.[6] The unique floral and faunal wealth of the Himalayas is undergoing structural and compositional changes due to climate change. The increase in temperature may shift various species to higher The Himalayan range at Yumesongdong in elevations. The oak forest is being invaded by pine forests in the Sikkim, in the Yumthang River valley Garhwal Himalayan region. There are reports of early flowering and fruiting in some tree species, especially rhododendron, apple and Myrica esculenta. The medicinal properties of some important species may be affected by changing climate.[7][8]

Geology
Main article: Geology of the Himalaya The Himalayas are among the youngest mountain ranges on the planet and consist mostly of uplifted sedimentary and metamorphic rock. According to the modern theory of plate tectonics, their formation is a result of a continental collision or orogeny along the convergent boundary between the Indo-Australian Plate and the Eurasian Plate. This is referred to as a fold mountain. The collision began in the Upper Cretaceous period about 70 million years ago, when the north-moving Indo-Australian Plate, moving at about 15 cm per year, collided with the Eurasian Plate. About 50 million years ago, this fast moving Indo-Australian plate had completely closed the Tethys Ocean, the existence of which has been determined by sedimentary rocks settled on the ocean floor, and the volcanoes that fringed its edges. Since these sediments were light, they crumpled into mountain ranges rather than sinking to the floor. The Indo-Australian plate continues to be driven horizontally below the Tibetan plateau, which forces the plateau to move upwards. The Arakan Yoma highlands in Myanmar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal were also formed as a result of this collision. The Indo-Australian plate is still moving at 67 mm per year, and over the next 10 million years it will travel about 1,500 km into Asia. About 20 mm per year of the India-Asia convergence is absorbed by thrusting along the Himalaya southern front. This leads to the Himalayas rising by about 5 mm per year, making them geologically active. The movement of the Indian plate into the Asian plate also makes this region seismically active, leading to earthquakes from time to time.
The 6,000 km plus journey of the India landmass (Indian Plate) before its collision with Asia (Eurasian Plate) about 40 to 50 million years ago

Hydrology
The Himalayan range encompasses about 15,000 glaciers, which store about 12,000 km3 (3000 cubic miles) of
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayas 3/9

8/14/12

Himalayas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

fresh water. The 70 km-long Siachen Glacier at the India-Pakistan border is the second longest glacier in the world outside the polar region. Other famous glaciers include the Gangotri and Yamunotri (Uttarakhand), Nubra, Biafo and Baltoro (Karakoram region), Zemu (Sikkim) and Khumbu glaciers (Mount Everest region). The higher regions of the Himalayas are snowbound throughout the year, in spite of their proximity to the tropics, and they form the sources of several large perennial rivers, most of which combine into two large river systems: The western rivers combine into the Indus Basin, of which the Glaciers near K2 in the Xinjiang, Indus River is the largest. The Indus begins in Tibet at the China and Pakistan. confluence of Sengge and Gar rivers and flows southwest through India and then through Pakistan to the Arabian Sea. It is fed by the Jhelum, the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, and the Sutlej rivers, among others. Most of the other Himalayan rivers drain the Ganges-Brahmaputra Basin. Its two main rivers are the Ganges and the Brahmaputra and the Yamuna, as well as other tributaries. The Brahmaputra originates as the Yarlung Tsangpo River in western Tibet, and flows east through Tibet and west through the plains of Assam. The Ganges and the Brahmaputra meet in Bangladesh, and drain into the Bay of Bengal through the world's largest river delta.[9] The easternmost Himalayan rivers feed the Ayeyarwady River, which originates in eastern Tibet and flows south through Myanmar to drain into the Andaman Sea. The Salween, Mekong, Yangtze and Huang He (Yellow River) all originate from parts of the Tibetan plateau that are geologically distinct from the Himalaya mountains, and are therefore not considered true Himalayan rivers. Some geologists refer to all the rivers collectively as the circum-Himalayan rivers.[10] In recent years, scientists have monitored a notable increase in the rate of glacier retreat across the region as a result of global climate change.[11] For example, Glacial lakes have been forming rapidly on the surface of the debris-covered glaciers in the Bhutan Himalaya during the last few decades. Although the effect of this will not be known for many years, it potentially could mean disaster for the hundreds of millions of people who rely on the glaciers to feed the rivers of northern India during the dry seasons.[12]

Lakes
The Himalaya region is dotted with hundreds of lakes. Most lakes are found at altitudes of less than 5,000 m, with the size of the lakes diminishing with altitude. Pangong Tso, which is spread across the border between India and China, and Yamdrok Tso, located in central Tibet, are amongst the largest with surface areas of 700 km, and 638 km, respectively. Other notable lakes include Gurudogmar lake in North Sikkim, Tsongmo lake, near the Indo-China border in Sikkim, and Tilicho lake in Nepal in the Annapurna massif. The mountain lakes are known to geographers as tarns if they are caused by glacial activity. Tarns are found mostly in the upper reaches of the Himalaya, above 5,500 metres.[13]
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayas

A high Himalayan lake at an altitude of around 5,000 metres Sikkim, India


4/9

8/14/12

Himalayas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Impact on climate
The Himalayas have a profound effect on the climate of the Indian subcontinent and the Tibetan plateau. They prevent frigid, dry Arctic winds blowing south into the subcontinent, which keeps South Asia much warmer than corresponding temperate regions in the other continents. It also forms a barrier for the monsoon winds, keeping them from traveling northwards, and causing heavy rainfall in the Terai region. The Himalayas are also believed to play an important part in the formation of Central Asian deserts, such as the Taklamakan and Gobi.[14] The mountain ranges also prevent western winter disturbances in prayer flags and chorten Iran from traveling further, resulting in snow in Kashmir and rainfall in parts of Punjab and northern India. Despite being a barrier to the cold, northerly winter winds, the Brahmaputra valley receives part of the frigid winds, thus lowering the temperature in the North East India and Bangladesh. The Himalayas, which are often called "The Roof of the World", contain the greatest area of glaciers and permafrost outside polar regions. Ten of Asia's largest rivers flow from here, and more than a billion people's livelihoods depend on them. To complicate matters, temperatures are rising more rapidly here than the global average. In Nepal, the temperature has risen 0.6 degree C over the last decade, whereas overall global warming has been around 0.7 degree C over the last hundred years.[15]
Pass in Ladakh with the typical Buddhist

Impact on politics and culture


Some of the world's major rivers, the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Red River (Asia), Xunjiang, Chao Phraya, Irrawaddy River, Amu Darya, Syr Darya, Tarim River and Yellow River, arise in the Himalayas, and their combined drainage basin is home to some 3 billion people (almost half of Earth's population) in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, People's Republic of China, India (almost half of the population of India live within 500 km of the Himalayan range),[citation needed], Nepal, Burma, Cambodia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Pakistan.

The Himalayas, due to their large size and expanse, have been a natural barrier to the movement of people for tens of thousands of years. In particular, this has prevented intermingling of people from the Indian subcontinent with people from China and Mongolia, causing significantly different languages and customs between these regions. The Himalayas have also hindered trade routes and prevented military expeditions across its expanse. For instance, Genghis Khan could not expand his empire south of the Himalayas into the subcontinent.

Mountain sheds like these are used by the rural populace as shelter for cattle in summer months as they take them for grazing in higher altitudes.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayas

5/9

8/14/12

Himalayas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A panorama of Garhwal Himalaya from Dhanaulti, India

Religion
Several places in the Himalaya are of religious significance in Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism. In Hinduism, the Himalaya have also been personified as the god Himavat, the father of Shiva's consort, Parvati. A notable example of a religious site is Paro Taktsang, where Padmasambhava is said to have founded Buddhism in Bhutan.[16] A number of Tibetan Buddhist sites are situated in the Himalaya, including the residence of the Dalai Lama. There were over 6,000 monasteries in Tibet.[17] The Tibetan Muslims had their own mosques in Lhasa and Shigatse.[18]

The Taktshang Monastery, also known as the "Tiger's Nest"

See also
List of Himalayan topics American Himalayan Foundation Baltistan Digital Himalaya Eastern Himalaya Eight-thousander a list of peaks over 8,000 metres Geography of China Geography of India GilgitBaltistan, Pakistan Himalayan Peaks of Uttarakhand Himalayan Towers Indian Himalayan Region Indian Network on Climate Change Assessment
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayas 6/9

8/14/12

Himalayas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Karakoram (mountain range) Karakoram Highway Ladakh List of highest mountains all mountains over 7,200 metres List of mountains in Pakistan Mountain ranges of Pakistan Seven years in Tibet (film) Trekking peak

References
1. ^ "Definition of Himalayas" (http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0378930#m_en_gb0378930) . Oxford Dictionaries Online. http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0378930#m_en_gb0378930. Retrieved 2011-05-09. 2. ^ "Definition of Himalayas" (http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Himalayas) . Free Online Encyclopedia. http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Himalayas. Retrieved 2011-05-09. 3. ^ A site which uses this dramatic fact first used in illustration of "deep time" in John McPhee's book Basin and Range (http://geology.about.com/library/bl/peaks/bleverest.htm) 4. ^ Yang, Qinye (2004). Himalayan Mountain System (http://books.google.com/? id=4q_XoMACOxkC&pg=PA25&lpg=PA23&dq=%22South+Tibet+Valley%22) . ISBN 978-7-5085-0665-4. http://books.google.com/?id=4q_XoMACOxkC&pg=PA25&lpg=PA23&dq=%22South+Tibet+Valley%22. Retrieved 2007-08-07. 5. ^ Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dallapiccola. 6. ^ C.Michael Hogan. 2010. Archaea. eds. E.Monosson & C.Cleveland, Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington DC. (http://www.eoearth.org/article/Archaea?topic=49496) 7. ^ Kala, Chandra Prakash (2011). Medicinal Plants and Sustainable Development. New York: Nova Science Publishers. pp. 280. ISBN 9781617619427. 8. ^ Kala, Chandra Prakash (2012). Biodiversity, Communities and Climate Change. New Delhi: Teri Publications. pp. 358. 9. ^ "Sunderbans the worlds largest delta" (http://www.gits4u.com/wb/wb6a.htm) . gits4u.com. http://www.gits4u.com/wb/wb6a.htm. 10. ^ Gaillardet, J; Mtivier, Lemarchand, Dupr, Allgre, Li, Zhao (2003). "Geochemistry of the Suspended Sediments of Circum-Himalayan Rivers and Weathering Budgets over the Last 50 Myrs" (http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/EAE03/13617/EAE03-J-13617.pdf) (PDF). Geophysical Research Abstracts 5 (13617). http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/EAE03/13617/EAE03-J-13617.pdf. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 11. ^ "Vanishing Himalayan Glaciers Threaten a Billion" (http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/42387/story.htm) . Planet Ark. June 5, 2007. http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/42387/story.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-17. 12. ^ "Glaciers melting at alarming speed" (http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90781/90879/6222327.html) . People's Daily Online. July 24, 2007. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90781/90879/6222327.html. Retrieved 2009-04-17. 13. ^ Drews, Carl. Highest Lake in the World "Highest Lake in the World" (http://www.highestlake.com/highest-lakeworld.html%7CThe) . http://www.highestlake.com/highest-lake-world.html%7CThe Highest Lake in the World. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 14. ^ Devitt, Terry (3 May 2001). "Climate shift linked to rise of Himalayas, Tibetan Plateau" (http://www.news.wisc.edu/6138) . University of WisconsinMadison News. http://www.news.wisc.edu/6138. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 15. ^ Gravgaard, Anna-Katarina (2009-12-13). "Nepalis note climate change" (http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/asia/091208/nepal-glaciers-climate-change) . Global Post.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayas 7/9

8/14/12

Himalayas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/asia/091208/nepal-glaciers-climate-change. 16. ^ Pommaret, Francoise (2006). Bhutan Himlayan Mountains Kingdom (5th edition). Odyssey Books and Guides. pp. 1367. 17. ^ Tibetan monks: A controlled life (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7307495.stm) . BBC News. March 20, 2008. 18. ^ Mosques in Lhasa, Tibet (http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200510/27/eng20051027_217176.html) . People's Daily Online. October 27, 2005.

Further reading
Aitken, Bill, Footloose in the Himalaya, Delhi, Permanent Black, 2003. ISBN 81-7824-052-1 Berreman, Gerald Duane, Hindus of the Himalayas: Ethnography and Change, 2nd rev. ed., Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1997. Bisht, Ramesh Chandra, Encyclopedia of the Himalayas, New Delhi, Mittal Publications, c2008. Everest, the IMAX movie (1998). ISBN 0-7888-1493-1 Fisher, James F., Sherpas: Reflections on Change in Himalayan Nepal, 1990. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1990. ISBN 0-520-06941-2 Gansser, Augusto, Gruschke, Andreas, Olschak, Blanche C., Himalayas. Growing Mountains, Living Myths, Migrating Peoples, New York, Oxford: Facts On File, 1987. ISBN 0-8160-1994-0 and New Delhi: Bookwise, 1987. Gupta, Raj Kumar, Bibliography of the Himalayas, Gurgaon, Indian Documentation Service, 1981 Hunt, John, Ascent of Everest, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1956. ISBN 0-89886-361-9 Isserman, Maurice and Weaver, Stewart, Fallen Giants: The History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes. Yale University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-300-115017 Ives, Jack D. and Messerli, Bruno, The Himalayan Dilemma: Reconciling Development and Conservation. London / New York, Routledge, 1989. ISBN 0-415-01157-4 Lall, J.S. (ed.) in association with Moddie, A.D., The Himalaya, Aspects of Change. Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1981. ISBN 0-19-561254-X Nandy, S.N., Dhyani, P.P. and Samal, P.K., Resource Information Database of the Indian Himalaya, Almora, GBPIHED, 2006. Palin, Michael, Himalaya, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson Illustrated, 2004. ISBN 0-297-84371-0 Swami Sundaranand, Himalaya: Through the Lens of a Sadhu. Published by Tapovan Kuti Prakashan (August 2001). ISBN 81-901326-0-1 Swami Tapovan Maharaj, Wanderings in the Himalayas, English Edition, Madras, Chinmaya Publication Trust, 1960. Translated by T.N. Kesava Pillai. Tilman, H. W., Mount Everest, 1938, Cambridge University Press, 1948. The Mighty Himalaya: A Fragile Heritage, National Geographic, 174:624-631 (November 1988).

External links
The Digital Himalaya research project at Cambridge and Yale (http://www.digitalhimalaya.com) The making of the Himalaya and major tectonic subdivisions (http://comp1.geol.unibas.ch/~zanskar/CHAPITRE2/page23.html) Geology of the Himalayan mountains (http://oak.ucc.nau.edu/wittke/Tibet/Himalaya.html)
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayas 8/9

8/14/12

Himalayas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Birth of the Himalaya (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/everest/earth/birth.html) Some notes on the formation of the Himalaya (http://snobear.colorado.edu/Markw/Mountains/03/week11.html) Pictures from a trek in Annapurna (film by Ori Liber) (http://www.metacafe.com/watch/383729/the_annapurna_trek_in_5_minutes/) Geology of Nepal Himalaya (http://www.ranjan.net.np/geology_of_nepal/geology_of_nepal.htm) South Asia's Troubled Waters (http://pulitzercenter.org/projects/asia/south-asias-troubled-waters) Journalistic project at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Himalayas&oldid=505619251" Categories: Biodiversity hotspots Mountain ranges of Asia Mountain ranges of China Mountain ranges of India Mountain ranges of Nepal Mountain ranges of Pakistan Physiographic divisions Sanskrit words and phrases Himalayas This page was last modified on 3 August 2012 at 18:58. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of use for details. Wikipedia is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayas

9/9