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The Himalayas

The Himalayas, which literally means the abode of snow, is the youngest and the highest range of fold mountains in the world. In India it extends in the east from the borders of Myanmar to where the Indus divides it from the Hindukush and Karakoran ranges, covering a distance of about 2500 km. The Himalayas consist of three parallel ranges, the Greater Himalayas known as the Himadri, the Lesser Himalayas called the Himachal, and the Shivalik hills, which comprise the foothills.

Mount Everest at a height of 8848m is the highest peak followed by the Kanchanjunga at 8598 m. The highest mountain wholly in India is the Nandadevi, at a height of a little less than 8000 m. Millions of years ago the Indian subcontinent was separated from the mainland by a large sea known as the Tethys. During the movement of the earth’s crust, known as the Continental Drift, it began moving northwards towards the mainland. As it hit the Asian continent the bed of the Tethys sea was pushed upwards and the Himalayas emerged. The evidence of this is seen in the fossils of sea animals found at 5000 ft and above. Three great rivers of the world have their source in the Himalayas, namely the Ganga, the Indus, and the Brahmaputra. These rivers are the lifeline of India, providing water to millions of people and irrigating thousands of hectares of land.

Due to the changes in temperature as one climbs higher, there is a diverse range of flora and fauna making it a virtual heaven for naturalists. Plants and animals of the tropics are found up to 1000 m. from there to about 3000 m are the temperate region species and, above that comes the region of the Alpines. With height and change in temperature, the flora and fauna also change from the deodars to the azaleas to the pines and firs, from the tiger to the snow leopard, from the sparrows and cormorant to the snow partridge, snow cock, and snow pigeon.

 

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