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Himalayan Ranges: Exploring the Greater, Middle, and Shiwalik Ranges

The Himalayan mountain range delineates the boundary between the Indian subcontinent and the Tibetan Plateau in Asia. It comprises three main ranges: the Greater Himalayas, Middle Himalayas, and Inner Himalayas. The northernmost range, also called Himadri or Greater Himalayas, is particularly prominent.

Himalayan Ranges

The Himalayas, a majestic mountain range in Asia, stand as a formidable barrier between the Indian subcontinent and the Tibetan Plateau. This youthful mountain chain boasts Earth’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest, and over 100 mountains exceeding 7,200 meters. Divided into four parallel ranges, the Himalayas rise from the foothills of the Sivalik Hills to the majestic Greater Himalayas, where permanent snow paints the peaks. The Himalayas act as a source of mighty rivers like the Indus and the Ganges, and their slopes are home to diverse ecosystems sheltering unique flora and fauna.

Himalayan Mountain Range

  • The Himalayan mountain range system consists of three parts, with the Himalayas being one of them.
  • These parts are structurally folded mountains that extend over the northern borders of India.
  • Stretching from west to east, the Himalayan Ranges span from the Indus to the Brahmaputra River.
  • The formation of these three parts results from the tectonic collision of the Indian Plate with the Eurasian Plate.
  • The Himalayas are renowned as the highest mountain ranges globally, featuring glaciers, gorges, deep valleys, and the tallest peaks.
  • This mountain range forms an arc over the Indian subcontinent, varying in width from around 400 kilometres in Kashmir to 150 kilometres in Arunachal Pradesh, with a total length of 2400 kilometres.
  • There are more significant altitudinal variations in the eastern part of the Himalayas compared to the western part.
  • Serving as a physical barrier, the mountains protect India from the icy cold winds of Central Asia and act as a cultural, drainage, and climatic divide.
  • The northern mountain system includes three ranges: the Purvanchal Hills, the Trans Himalayas, and the Himalayas.

Three Himalayan Range

  • The Himalayas extend along India’s northern border from the west (Indus) to the east (Brahmaputra), spanning a length of 2500 kilometres. They are 150 kilometres wide in the east and 400 kilometres wide in the west.
  • The classification of the Himalayas encompasses various categories, with the predominant one based on their south-north alignment. This classification divides the Himalayas longitudinally.
  • Another classification, based on the height and regional elevation of the mountains, divides the Himalayas from east to west.
  • Longitudinally, the Himalayan Ranges are divided into three parallel ranges: the Shivaliks (the outer Himalayas), the Lesser
  • Himalayas (the middle Himalayas), and the Greater Himalayas (the innermost mountain ranges).

Himadri or Greater Himalayas

  • The northernmost range of the Himalayas is known as Himadri or Greater Himalayas.
  • The Greater Himalayas extend over 2400 kilometres from west to east, with a width ranging from about 120 to 190 kilometres.
  • The average height of the mountains in this range is around 6000 meters.
  • Himadri or Greater Himalayas constitute the most continuous range, housing all the prominent Himalayan peaks including the loftiest ones.
  • The core of Himadri or the Greater Himalayas is primarily composed of granite.
  • Numerous glaciers descend from this range, maintaining perennial snow cover.
  • Mount Everest (8850 meters), the highest peak in the world, is part of the Greater Himalayas, along with significant peaks like Mt. Dhaulagiri (8172 meters), Mt. Makalu (8481 meters), and Mt. Kanchenjunga (8586 meters).
  • Other prominent ranges within the Greater Himalayas include Annapurna, Nanga Parbat, and Kamet.
  • The Yamuna and Ganga rivers originate from this Himalayan range.

Middle Himalayas or the Lesser Himalayas

  • The middle segment of the Himalayas Mountain Range is referred to as Himachal, the Middle Himalayas, or the Lesser Himalayas.
  • This range lies between the Great Himalayas in the northeast and the Shivalik range in the southeast.
  • The mountains in this region range from 3700 to 4500 meters in height and have an average breadth of 50 kilometres.
  • Himachal, or the Middle Himalayas, stretches over 2400 kilometres from northeast to southeast along the northern edge of the Indian subcontinent.
  • It covers regions including Ladakh, the union territories of Kashmir and Sikkim, as well as Uttarakhand, Indian Himachal, Nepal, and Bhutan.
  • Notable mountain ranges within the Middle Himalayas include Nag Tibba, Pirpangal, Dhauladhar, and Mahabharat.
  • Well-known valleys in the Middle Himalayas include Kangra, Kashmir, and Kulu.
  • Popular hill towns situated in the Middle Himalayas include Shimla, Ranikhet, Darjeeling, and Nainital.

Outer Himalayas or Shivalik

  • The Shivalik ranges represent the southernmost hills of the Himalayas, separated from the Lesser Himalayas by flat-bottomed valleys.
  • Previously named “Upgiri,” the Shivaliks extend from the Indus Gorge in the northwest to the Brahmaputra in Assam, covering a distance exceeding 2400 kilometres.
  • With a width ranging from 10 to 50 kilometres, the Shivaliks rarely reach heights exceeding 1300 meters.
  • The southern slopes of the Shivalik range in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh lack frost, while seasonal streams, such as Chaos, intricately carve through the hillsides.
  • Situated between the Himachal and Shivalik mountains are numerous longitudinal valleys known as “Duns,” which include Patli Dun, Kotli Dun, and Dehradun.

Formation of Himalayan Ranges

  • The Himalayas stand as the youngest mountain range globally, born from the colossal geosyncline of the Tethys Sea. The rise of the Himalayan Mountains unfolded through various stages. Back in the Permian Period, roughly 250 million years ago, Pangaea, the supercontinent, dominated the Earth.
  • Its northern expanse, termed Laurasia, Angaraland, or Laurentia, encompassed present-day North America and Eurasia (Europe and Asia). Meanwhile, South America, Africa, South India, Australia, and Antarctica formed the southern realms of Pangaea, known as Gondwanaland. Between Laurasia and Gondwanaland lay the Tethys Sea, a lengthy, narrow body of shallow water.
  • Numerous rivers flowed into the Tethys Sea, some predating the Himalayas themselves. Laden with sediments, these rivers deposited layers on the seafloor. As the Indian Plate thrust northward, immense compression moulded these sediments, folding them intricately. Mount Everest’s summit, composed of ancient marine limestone from this primordial ocean, serves as a prominent illustration of this geological metamorphosis.

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What are the 4 ranges of the Himalayas?

The Himalayas consists of four parallel mountain ranges from south to north: the Sivalik Hills on the south; the Lower Himalayan Range; the Great Himalayas, which is the highest and central range; and the Tibetan Himalayas on the north. The Karakoram are generally considered separate from the Himalayas.

In which state Himalayan range is located?

The Indian Himalayan Region is spread across 13 Indian States/Union Territories (namely Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Assam and West Bengal), stretching across 2500 km.

Which is the largest range of Himalayas?

The Great Himalayas or Greater Himalayas or Himadri is the highest mountain range of the Himalayan Range. The world's highest peak, Mount Everest, as well as other "near−highest" peaks, such as Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, and Nanga Parbat, are part of the Greater Himalayas range.

What are the three main Himalayan ranges?

They are divided into three main parallel ranges.
The northernmost is the Great Himalaya or Himadri. The world's highest peaks are located in this range.
Middle Himalaya or Himachal is located to the south of Himadri.
The Shiwalik is the southernmost range.

Which country has most Himalayan range?

Though India, Nepal, and Bhutan have sovereignty over most of the Himalayas, Pakistan and China also occupy parts of them.

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