The Himalayas | The importance of the Himalayas to India

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The Himalayas

The Himalayas are a mountain range in Asia that separates the Indian subcontinent's plains from the Tibetan Plateau. Some dev the world's highest peaks are found in the Himalayan range, including Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain. In the Himalayas, there are more than 100 peaks that are higher than 7,200 metres (23,600 feet). The tallest peak outside of Asia (Aconcagua in the Andes) stands at 6,961 metres (22,838 feet).

Five nations are crossed or boarded by the Himalayas: Bhutan, India, Nepal, China, and Pakistan. India, Pakistan, and China all three countries claim ownership over the range in the some parts Kashmir. Three of the world's major rivers, the Indus, Ganges, and Tsangpo–Brahmaputra, rise near the Himalayas, and their combined drainage basin is home to 600 million people, with 53 million living in the Himalayas. The Himalayas have had a significant impact on the civilizations of South Asia and Tibet; numerous Himalayan peaks are considered sacred in Tibet.

The Himalayan mountain range extends west-northwest to east-southeast in an arc 2,400 km (1,500 mi) long, lifted by the subduction of the Indian tectonic plate beneath the Eurasian Plate. The western anchor, Nanga Parbat, is situated just south of the Indus River's northernmost bend. The eastern anchor, Namcha Barwa, is located just west of the Yarlung Tsangpo River's massive bend. The width of the range varies from 350 km (220 mi) west to 150 km (93 mi) east.

Formation of Himalayas

The Himalayan mountain range is one of the world's newest mountain ranges, created primarily from uplifted (due to impact of tectonic plates) sedimentary and metamorphic rock. It was formed by a continental collision or orogeny at the convergent boundary (Main Himalayan Thrust) between the Indo-Australian Plate and the Eurasian Plate, according to contemporary plate tectonics theory.

According to modern theories of plate tectonics, the Himalayas were formed by the collision of the Indo-Australian Plate and the Eurasian Plate. The first uplift of the Himalayas occurred 650 million years ago and the Middle Himalayas about 450 million years ago.

Importance of Himalayas to India

The Himalayas are the most important geographical formation for India. The Himalayan ranges are responsible for the geographical feature of India. The Himalayas have an important role in influencing the lives of the people of India, and making India prosperous. No other mountain range in the world had such enormous impact on people's lives and the destiny of a country. The Himalayas are India's heart and soul.

Climate influence, defence, river supply, fertile soil, hydroelectricity, forest wealth, minerals, agriculture, tourism, and pilgrimage are just few of the reasons why the Himalayas are so important to India.

Let us know each of these importance one by one.

Climatic Influence

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Himalayas & Monsoon

The Himalayas are one of the most influencing factors (besides the monsoon) on the Indian climate. Blessed with high altitude, length and location, they effectively block & divert the incoming summer monsoon from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, causing precipitation in the form of rain and snow.  In addition, they block the cold continental air masses of Central Asia from entering India.  In the absence of the Himalayas, the whole of India would have been a rainless desert and its winters would have been severe cold bunder the influence of cold air coming from Central Asia. The latest meteorological studies have proved that the Himalayan mountain ranges play an important role in bringing monsoon to India by dividing these jet streams into two parts.


Since ancient times, the Himalayas have protected India from outside invaders, acting as a protective barrier. However, India's defence role has been diminished since the Chinese invasion in October 1962. Despite developments in modern warfare equipment, the Himalayas' defence significance cannot be overlooked.

Sources of Rivers

The Himalayas act as a vast reservoir of water for the North Indian rivers.  The Himalaya Mountains or glaciers are the nutritional backbone of almost all of India's major and perennial rivers. Abundant rainfall, enormous snow fields, and massive glaciers are the nutritional base of India's tremendous rivers. The melting snow in summer provides water to these rivers even in the dry season and hence they are perennial rivers.  The Himalayan rivers are the lifeline of North India. The Ganges, one of the most important river in North India, originates from one of the largest glaciers in the Himalayas, Gaumukh.

Fertile Soil

We know that the Himalayas were formed from sediments deposited in the Tethys Sea. The soil of this sediment is carried by the Himalayan rivers to the plains and makes those areas fertile. Due to these soils brought by the rivers, the plains become the most fertile land in the world. It is estimated that the Ganges and the Indus carry 19 and 1 million tonnes of silt per day respectively and the silt carried by the Brahmaputra is even higher. That is why it is often said that the vast plains of North India are the product of the Himalayas.


The river valley in the Himalayas is the best place for the construction of dams.  The Himalayas provide many natural sites in its region which are suitable for the production of hydroelectricity. There are natural springs at some places while dams can be built on rivers at some places.  However the construction of large dams on the Himalayas is disturbing the isotopic balance of the Himalayan region which is responsible for earthquakes. The huge reservoirs of water created by the dams are adversely affecting the climate of the local area (such as excess rainfall). Sustainable development of dams in this area is the need of the hour.

Forest Wealth

The Himalayan ranges are very rich in all types of forest resources. In their increasing altitude, the Himalayan ranges show a succession of vegetation cover from tropical to alpine. The forests of the Himalayas provide fuel wood and large quantities of raw materials for industries.  Apart from the many medicinal plants growing in the Himalayan region, many places are covered with grass which provides rich pasture for grazing animals.


The Himalayas as we know were formed by the uplift of sea sediments.  Along with the deposition, thousands of fossils were also buried in this process, which today come out as minerals. There are many valuable minerals in the Himalayan region. Tertiary rocks have great potential for mineral oil.  Coal is found in Kashmir, Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal. Copper, lead, zinc, nickel, cobalt, antimony, tungsten, gold, silver, limestone, semi-precious and precious stones, gypsum and magnetite are found in more than 100 areas of the Himalayas. Unfortunately, mineral extraction from the Himalayan ranges is not a practical business due to the complicated terrain and the fact that the Himalayas are still young mountains.


The Himalayas do not provide wide flat land for agriculture but have terraced slopes for cultivation. Rice is the main crop on the terraced slopes  agreculture filed.  Other crops are wheat, maize, potatoes and ginger. Tea is a unique crop that can be grown only on hill slopes.  Many types of fruits like apples, peaches, grapes, pears, mulberries, walnuts, cherries, apricots etc. are also grown in the Himalayan region.


The Himalayas offer immense tourism potential due to its natural beauty and healthy environment. The beautiful landscape on the Himalayan Mountains provides a great tourist destination. The mountainous regions of the Himalayas provide a cool and comfortable climate when the neighboring plains are battling the scorching heat of the summer season.  Lakhs of tourists from different parts of the country as well as abroad visit the Himalayan tourist centers to enjoy its natural beauty and escape the heat of the plains. The growing popularity of winter sports and the craze for enjoying the snow has also increased the number of tourists in winters.  Some of the famous tourist places in Himalayas are Mussoorie, Shimla, Kullu, Manali, Nainital, Chamba, Ranikhet, Almora, Darjeeling, Mirik, Gangtok etc.


The Himalayas are the abode of the gods.  Apart from its beautiful scenery and its importance as a tourist destination, the Himalayas are proud to be dotted with holy temples. Mount Kailash is mentioned in the Vedas as the abode of Lord Shiva. Every year thousands of pilgrims travel through the difficult terrain of the Himalayas to pay their respects to these holy temples. Some of the important pilgrimage centers are Kailash, Amarnath, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Tungnath, Vaishnu Devi, Jwalaji, Uttarkashi, Gangotri, Yamunotri etc.

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