THE HIMALAYAS -Indian Physical Geography Part 2


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 Trans-Himalayan range, the Middle Himalayas and the Shiwalik.

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.

The approximate length of the Great Himalayan range, also known as the central axial range, is 2,500 km from east to west, and their width varies between 160-400 km from north to south. It is also evident from the map that the Himalayas stand almost 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.



(i) Kashmir or Northwestern Himalayas

(ii) Himachal and Uttaranchal Himalayas

(iii) Darjiling and Sikkim Himalayas

(iv) Arunachal Himalayas

(v) Eastern Hills and Mountains


Kashmir or Northwestern Himalayas;

It comprise a series of ranges such as the Karakoram, Ladakh, Zaskar and Pir Panjal. The northeastern part of the Kashmir Himalayas is a cold desert, which lies between the Greater Himalayas and the Karakoram ranges.

Between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal range, lies the world famous valley of Kashmir and the famous Dal Lake. Important glaciers of South Asia such as the Baltoro and Siachen are also found in this region.

This region is drained by the river Indus, and its tributaries such as the Jhelum and the Chenab. The Kashmir and northwestern Himalayas are well-known for their scenic beauty and picturesque landscape.

Fig : Confluence of river Zanskar and River Indus

Himachal and Uttaranchal 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, i.e. the Indus and the Ganga.. All the three ranges of Himalayas are prominent in this section also.

Some of the important hill stations such as Dharamshala, Mussoorie, Shimla, Kaosani and the cantonment towns and health resorts such as Shimla, Mussoorie, Kasauli, Almora, Lansdowne and Ranikhet, etc. were developed in this region.

Fig:Kalka-Shimla train route-A UNESCO world heritage site.

Darjiling and Sikkim Himalayas;

They are flanked by Nepal Himalayas in the west and Bhutan Himalayas in the east. It is relatively small but is a most significant part of the Himalayas. Known for its fast-flowing rivers such as Tista, it is a region of high mountain peaks like Kanchenjunga (Kanchengiri), and deep valleys.

In place of the Shiwaliks here, the ‘duar formations’ are important, which have also been used for the development of tea gardens. Sikkim and Darjiling Himalayas are also known for their scenic beauty and rich flora and fauna, particularly various types of orchids.


Arunachal Himalayas;

These extend from the east of the Bhutan Himalayas up to the Diphu pass in the east. The general direction of the mountain range is from southwest to northeast. Some of the important mountain peaks of the region are Kangtu and Namcha Barwa.

Some of the important rivers are the Kameng, the Subansiri, the Dihang, the Dibang and the Lohit. Inhabited by numerous tribal groups practising Jhum cultivation

Fig :Jhum cultivation


Eastern Hills and Mountains;

These are part of the Himalayan mountain system having their general alignment from the north to the south direction. They are known by different local names. In the north, they are known as Patkai Bum, Naga hills, the Manipur hills and in the south as Mizo or Lushai hills. These are low hills, inhabited by numerous tribal groups practising Jhum cultivation.



Bhotia’s in Greater Himalayas

Monpa, Abor, Mishmi, Nyishi and the Nagas in Arunachal Himalayas.


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