India, a country renowned for its rich and diverse geographical features, has an impressive array of mountain ranges. These majestic ranges not only add to the scenic beauty of the country but also hold great cultural, ecological, and historical significance.
In this article, we will explore the various mountain ranges in India, delving into their distinctive features, geographical locations, and the wonders they encompass.
Mountain Ranges in India
India’s mountain ranges can be broadly classified into the following divisions, each with its unique characteristics and geographical locations:
- Himalayan Range
- Trans Himalayas
- Greater Himalayas
- Lesser Himalayas
- Satpura and Vindya Range
- Aravali Range
- Eastern and Western Ghats
1. Himalayan Range
The Himalayas, often referred to as the “roof of the world,” are the highest and most iconic mountain range in India. This magnificent range stretches over 2,400 kilometers across the northern part of the country, spanning several states and offering breathtaking landscapes, towering peaks, and a rich cultural heritage.
Formation of Himalayas
The formation of the Himalayas can be attributed to the collision between the Indo-Australian Plate (Gondwanaland) and the Eurasian Plate (Angaraland). This collision occurred over millions of years and resulted in the upliftment of the Himalayas, making them the youngest and highest mountain range in the world.
The Indo-Australian Plate, consisting of the Indian subcontinent, was a separate landmass that began moving northward towards the Eurasian Plate around 50 million years ago. As the two plates converged, the immense pressure and force generated by the collision caused the crust to buckle and fold, leading to the formation of the Himalayas.
The collision between the two plates resulted in a compressional force that caused the crustal rocks to deform and fold. This folding process occurred in three phases, giving rise to the three main divisions of the Himalayas:
- Greater Himalayas
- Lesser Himalayas
The collision between the Indian plate and the Eurasian plate not only resulted in the formation of the Himalayas but also gave rise to several other mountain ranges in the surrounding regions. These ranges include
- Hindukush Range
- Suleman Range
- Kunlun Shan
- Tien Shan
- Trans-Himalayas ranges
The Himalayas are still undergoing geological processes, and the height of the mountain ranges continues to increase gradually. This is because the compressive force between the two plates is ongoing, leading to ongoing upliftment and further folding of the rocks. The Shivalik range, in particular, is experiencing significant upliftment, and geologists suggest that a newer range may rise southwards of the Shivaliks in the future.
The Himalayan range spans approximately 2,500 kilometers from Jammu & Kashmir in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east. It is wider in the west, with a width of about 500 kilometers, and narrows down to around 200 kilometers in the east.
The variation in width can be attributed to differences in the intensity of the compressional force during the formation process, with higher forces in the east resulting in the presence of towering peaks like Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga.
Side View of the Himalayan Ranges
The side view of the Himalayan ranges reveals the intricate faulting and thrusting that has shaped this majestic mountain range over millions of years. The fault lines between the different regions of the Himalayas are essential in understanding their geological formation.
Main Central Thrust (MCT): The faulting between the Great Himalayas and the Lesser Himalayas is known as the Main Central Thrust (MCT). This significant tectonic feature marks the boundary where the Indian plate is being thrust beneath the Eurasian plate. The MCT has played a crucial role in the upliftment of the Greater Himalayas and the formation of the world’s highest peaks.
Main Boundary Thrust (MBT): Between the Lesser Himalayas and the Shivaliks lies the Main Boundary Thrust (MBT). This fault line represents the boundary between the two regions and results from continued compression and tectonic forces.
Himalayan Front Fault (HFF): The faulting between the Shivaliks and the plains is known as the Himalayan Front Fault (HFF). This fault line marks the boundary where the mountains meet the Indo-Gangetic plains. It is responsible for the steep slope and abrupt transition from the foothills to the flat plains.
Division of Himalayas
Now, let’s discuss Trans-Himalayas, Great Himalayas, Lesser Himalayas, and Shiwalik one by one.
- The Trans-Himalayas, also known as the Trans-Himalayan ranges or the Tibetan Himalayas, are located in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent.
- This region includes mountain ranges such as the Karakoram Range, Ladakh Range, and Zanskar Range.
- Known for its high-altitude desert landscapes, barren plateaus, deep canyons, and glaciated peaks.
- The Karakoram Range is famous for towering peaks and massive glaciers, including K2, the second-highest peak in the world.
- The Zanskar Range, a sub-range of the Ladakh Range, is known for its isolated beauty and remote valleys.
- Holds cultural significance with indigenous communities practicing Buddhism and ancient monasteries dotting the region.
Glaciers of the Trans-Himalayan Mountains:
- Batura Glacier
- Biafo Glacier
- Baltoro Glacier
- Siachen Glacier
- Hispar Glacier
- Skamri Glacier
The Mountain Ranges of Trans-Himalayas are:
- Karakoram Range
- Ladakh Range
- Zanskar Range
- Saltoro Range
- Kailash Range
II. Great Himalayas
The Great Himalaya, also known as the Himadri or Inner Himalaya, is the highest and northernmost division of the Himalayan mountain range. It stretches across several countries including India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet (China). Here are some key features and information about the Great Himalayas:
- The Great Himalayas is also known as the ‘Himadri‘, the ‘Main Himalayas‘, or the ‘Snowy Himalayas‘.
- It extends from the Indus River gorge to the Brahmaputra River bend in Arunachal Pradesh.
- This range is home to some of the highest peaks in the world.
- Mount Everest or Sagarmatha (8,848 meters) is the highest peak in the Great Himalayas and the world.
- Mount K2 or Godwin Austin is the highest peak in the Karakoram Mountain Range and is situated in POK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir).
- The highest mountain peak in India within the Himalayas is Kanchenjunga, located on the border of Sikkim and Nepal.
- Two prominent valleys have formed between the Great Himalayas and the Lesser Himalayas: the Kashmir Valley and the Kathmandu Valley.\
- The snowline in the Great Himalayas is higher in the west and lower in the east. This is because the western region is less humid than the eastern region.
- Due to higher humidity, the snowline in the Assam Himalayas is around 4400 meters, while in the Kashmir Himalayas, it is around 5100 meters.
Peaks in the Great Himalayas:
- Mount Everest
- Cho Oyu
- Nanga Parbat
Glaciers in the Great Himalayas:
- Khumbu Glacier
- Gangotri Glacier
- Rongbuk Glacier
- Baltoro Glacier
- Siachen Glacier
- Nubra Glacier
- Chhota Shigri Glacier
- Biafo Glacier
III. Lesser Himalayas
The Lesser Himalayas, also known as the Himachal or Middle Himalayas, is a division of the Himalayan mountain range. Here are some key points about the Lesser Himalayas:
- The Lesser Himalayas are situated south of the Great Himalayas, running parallel to them.
- They extend across several states in northern India, including Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and parts of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Nepal and Bhutan.
- The Lesser Himalayas have lower elevations compared to the Great Himalayas.
- The peaks in this range generally range from 3,000 to 4,500 meters (9,800 to 14,800 feet).
- The region is covered in dense forests consisting of oak, rhododendron, and pine trees.
- It is home to diverse wildlife, including leopards, musk deer, monal pheasants, and various bird species.
Important Tourist Destinations:
The Mountain Ranges of Lesser Himalayas:
- Pir Panjal Range
- Dhauladhar Range
- Mahabharat Range
- Nag Tibba Range.
The Shiwalik Range, also known as the Outer Himalayas or Sub-Himalayas, is a division of the Himalayan mountain range. Here are the key points about the Shiwaliks:
- The Shiwalik Range runs parallel to the main Himalayas and lies at the southernmost edge of the Himalayan system.
- It stretches across several countries including India, Nepal, and Bhutan.
- The Shiwaliks are characterized by a series of low-lying hills, ridges, and valleys.
- They have a relatively lower elevation compared to the main Himalayas, with peaks generally ranging from 600 to 1,500 meters (2,000 to 4,900 feet).
- The valley that separates the Shivalik Range from the Lesser Himalayas is known as a “dun” or “duar.” Two well-known examples of such valleys are Dehradun and Haridwar.
Purvanchal, also known as the Eastern Himalayas or the Eastern Range, is a region located in the eastern part of India. The northeastern states of India are graced with a variety of hills that enhance the region’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. From the beautiful hills of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Assam, and Meghalaya, each state has its own unique hills that contribute to the charm of the region.
|Dafla, Miri, Abor, Patkai Bum, and Mishmi Hills||Arunachal Pradesh|
|Barail and Mikir Hills||Assam|
|Garo, Khasi, Jaintia Hills||Meghalaya|
In conclusion, the mountain ranges of India, including the Himalayas and the Trans-Himalayas, are an integral part of the country’s landscape and cultural heritage. They offer breathtaking vistas, and diverse ecosystems, and contribute to the availability of important resources such as water and minerals.
These majestic mountains attract adventure enthusiasts, nature lovers, and spiritual seekers from around the world, making them an essential part of India’s natural beauty and allure.