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Physical Features of India: The Himalayas 2021


Himalayas 2021: Relevance

GS 1: Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent).


Physical Features of India

  • India’s physical features can majorly be divided into 6 parts:
    • The Northern and North-eastern Mountains
    • The Northern Plain
    • The Peninsular Plateau
    • The Indian Desert
    • The Coastal Plains
    • The Islands.
  • In this article, we will restrict our discussion to The Northern and North-eastern Mountains, which are part of Himalayan range of mountains.


Himalayas 2021

  • The Himalayas are the highest and the youngest fold mountain ranges of the world.
  • Geologically, the Himalayas are young, weak and flexible because its uplift is an ongoing process.
  • This distinctive feature makes it one of the most earthquake-prone regions of the world.




Himalayas 2021: Formation of Himalayas

  • The Himalayas have been formed over 50 million years ago when Indian plate collided with the Eurasian plate.
  • As the density of Indian plate was higher, the Indian plate slid below the Eurasian plate.
  • It led to crumbling and buckling up the Eurasian plate into the various mountain ranges that are now a part of the Himalayas.


Himalayas 2021: Himalayan ranges

  • The Himalayas consist of a series of parallel mountain ranges.
  • Some of the important ranges are the Greater Himalayan range, which includes the Great Himalayas and the Shiwalik.


Himalayas 2021: Orientation of Himalayas

  • The general orientation of these ranges is from northwest to the southeast direction in the northwestern part of India.
  • Himalayas in the Darjiling and Sikkim regions lie in an eastwest direction, while in Arunachal Pradesh they are from southwest to the northwest direction.
  • In Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram, they are in the northsouth direction.



Himalayas 2021: Himalayas Significance

  • The Himalayas stand like a strong and long wall between the Indian subcontinent and the Central and East Asian countries.
  • Himalayas are not only the physical barrier, they are also a climatic, drainage and cultural divide.


Himalayas 2021: Himalayas sub-division

On the basis of relief, alignment of ranges and other geo-morphological features, the Himalayas can be divided into the following sub-divisions:

Kashmir or Northwestern Himalayas

  • The Kashmir Himalayas are famous for Karewa formations, which are useful for the cultivation of Zafran, a local variety of saffron
  • Ranges: Karakoram, Ladakh, Zaskar and Pir Panjal.
  • Important passes: Zoji La on the Great Himalayas, Banihal on the Pir Panjal, Photu La on the Zaskar and Khardung La on the Ladakh range.
  • Important lakes: Fresh lakes such as Dal and Wular and salt water lakes such as Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri.
  • Meandering of Jhelum: Jhelum, despite being in youth stage, forms meanders because of the local base level provided by the erstwhile larger lake of which the present Dal Lake is a small part.


Himachal and Uttarakhand Himalayas

  • This part lies approximately between the Ravi in the west and the Kali (a tributary of Ghaghara) in the east
  • It is drained by two major river systems of India—the Indus and the Ganga.
  • The northernmost part of the Himachal Himalayas is an extension of the Ladakh cold desert, which lies in the Spiti subdivision of district Lahul and Spiti.
  • In the Great Himalayan range, the valleys are mostly inhabited by the Bhotia’s.
  • Bhotia’s are nomadic groups who migrate to ‘Bugyals’ (the summer glasslands in the higher reaches) during summer months and return to the valleys during winters.
  • Important destinations: ‘Valley of flowers’, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib.


Darjiling and Sikkim Himalayas

  • They are flanked by Nepal Himalayas in the west and Bhutan Himalayas in the east.
  • It is a region of high mountain peaks like Kanchenjunga (Kanchengiri),fast-flowing rivers like Teesta and deep valleys.
  • Duar formation: They have also been used for the development of tea gardens.


Arunachal Himalayas

  • These extend from the east of the Bhutan Himalayas up to the Diphu pass in the east.
  • Important mountain peaks: Kangtu and Namcha Barwa.
  • Important rivers: Kameng, the Subansiri, the Dihang, the Dibang and the Lohit.
  • These are perennial with the high rate of fall, thus, having the highest hydro-electric power potential in the country.


Eastern Hills and Mountains

  • These are part of the Himalayan Mountain system having their general alignment from the north to the south direction.
  • Jhum cultivation: The tribals living in the lowlands practice shifting cultivation that is locally called as Jhum cultivation.
  • Loktak Lake: The physiography of Manipur is unique by the presence of a large lake known as ‘Loktak’ lake at the centre, surrounded by mountains from all sides.
  • Molassis basin: Mizoram is also known as the ‘Molassis basin’ because it is made up of soft unconsolidated deposits.


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