40 Interesting Himalayas Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
Interesting Himalayas Facts

If scaling heights is your blood, you should head for the final frontier of height on planet Earth – the Himalayas. Majestic and intimidating, the Himalayas that perennially stay draped in snow have enchanted the ancients and the modern men alike. They have been, over time, embedded in religions and cultures like no other mountain range in this world. They are epic and enigmatic, they are harsh and pristine, they are young and dynamic. Let us today learn 40 interesting Himalayas facts and try to understand these majestic mountains a bit more in details.

Interesting Himalayas Facts: 1-5

1. Himalayas refer to a mountain range and not a single mountain. The Himalayan mountain range is the youngest on this planet.

2. Though they are the youngest, they are pretty old. They were formed 70 million years ago and were and outcome of same geological activities that have tore apart our continents over billions of years.

3. The Himalayas were formed when the Eurasian tectonic plate collided with the Indo-Australian tectonic plate (which has now broken down into the Australian plate and the Indian plate). The collision between these two massive tectonic plates gave birth to the majestic Himalayan ranges.

4. The Himalayan range is geologically active. Within next 10 million years, the Indian subcontinent will move nearly 1500 kilometers further into Asia because the Indian plate is moving at a speed of 67 millimeters a year.

5. As India and Asia are converging, the southern front of the Himalayas is absorbing a portion of this convergence. Precisely 20 mm per year of convergence is getting absorbed there. As a result of this, the Himalayan ranges are still gaining height at a rate of 5 mm per year.

Interesting Himalayas Facts: 6-10

6. After Antarctica and Arctic, the Himalayan ranges is the home to third-largest deposit of snow and ice on this planet.

7. A total of 12000 cubic kilometers or 3000 cubic miles of fresh water is stored within the 15,000 glaciers that are found within the Himalayan range.

8. The largest glacier not of polar origins is the Siachen glacier of the Himalayas. This glacier is 48 miles long.

9. The Himalayan range forms an arc that runs over a length of 2,400 kilometers of 1,500 miles from northwest to southeast. On the west, the maximum width of the arc is 400 kilometers or 250 miles. On the eastern side, the width of the arc is 150 kilometers or 93 miles.

10. For throughout this length of 2,400 km, the Himalayan mountain system is made up of two almost parallel ranges. A wide valley in between separates these two ranges.

Interesting Himalayas Facts: 11-15

11. The valley sitting between the two ranges is the home to westward flowing Sutlej and Indus rivers and eastward flowing Brahmaputra river.

12. The northern range of the two parallel ranges goes by the name Trans-Himalayas. The southern range of the two however has in turn has three parallel running zones which are Great Himalayas, Lesser Himalayas and the Outer Himalayas.

13. The Great Himalayas is the northernmost zone of the southern range system. This is where the highest peaks of Himalayan mountain system are found.

14. The Lower Himalayas form the middle zone while the Outer Himalayas form the southernmost zone of the Himalayas.

15. Because of its sheer length, the Himalayan mountain system stretches across six countries in total, which are – Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet.

Interesting Himalayas Facts: 16-20

16. The total area covered by the Himalayas is 612,021 sq. km., which is 0.4% of total land area on Earth.

17. Himalayas is the source of many large perennial rivers in the world, which are divided into two river systems – the Indus river system and the Ganges-Brahmaputra river system.

18. The Indus river system consists of the rivers on the western side of the Himalayas. Of all the rivers on that side, Indus is the largest of all. Indus, along with other western rivers like Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab, Jhelum etc. combine to form the Indus Basin. Indus originates in Tibet, flows southwest to enter India and then moves to Pakistan to finally drain into the Arabian Sea.

19. The other river system, i.e. the Ganges-Brahmaputra system consists of three main rivers – the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Brahmaputra. Brahmaputra’s origin is also in Tibet. The Ganga and Brahmaputra merge together in Bangladesh to finally drain through the largest known river delta in world – the Sunderbans into the Bay of Bengal.

20. Himalayas is the home of several high peaks. However, it holds the record of having the maximum number of highest peaks among any mountain range in world. Out of 14 heights peaks in this world, Himalayas holds 9.

Interesting Himalayas Facts: 21-25

21. Mount Everest of Himalayas is the highest peak in this world above sea level. It stands tall at 8,848 meters or 29,029 feet.

22. The second highest peak is the K2 which has attained a height of 8,611 meters or 28,251 feet. The third spot is captured by the majestic Kanchenjunga which stands at 8,586 meters or 28,169 feet.

23. Makalu, Nanga Parbat, Masherbrum (also known as K1), Rakaposhi, Kamet, Gurla Mandhata, Kongur Tagh, Kailash etc. are some of the other famous peaks of the mountain system. Makalu and Nanga Parbat are both above 8,000 meters in height.

24. Because the Himalayas are geologically active, the region is prone to natural phenomena such as tremors, earthquakes and landslides.

25. The Great Himalayas zone of the Himalayan range is where the Mount Everest sits. The Great Himalayas remain covered in snow perpetually. This means that the snow never melts there.

Interesting Himalayas Facts: 26-30

26. Himalayas go by the name Giri-raj in Hindu religion. This literally translates into ‘King of Mountains’. According to Hindu religion, Himalayas is the home of gods, most notable of them being Lord Shiva. Himalayas have been extensively mentioned in Hindu texts and epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Skanda Purana, Rig Veda etc.

27. Nepalese people call the Mount Everest by the name ‘Sagarmatha’ which literally translates into ‘Goddess of the Universe’. Tibetans call the Mount Everest as ‘Chomolungma’. The name Mount Everest is named after British Army officer Colonel Sir George Everest who was India’s surveyor General for 13 years from 1830 to 1843.

28. The Himalayas is the home to world’s some of the most exotic wildlife. Most notable of them being snow leopard, musk deer, Tibetan sheep, wild goat, red panda etc. Technically the giant pandas also live in the Himalayas. Some exotic birds also call the Himalayas as home. Some of the most notable exotic birds are gray bushchat, brown rock chat, verditer flycatcher, Himalayan bulbul, hill patridge and black rumped flameback woodpecker.

29. Himalayas is known for extremely erratic climates. At higher altitudes, it is cold, which keeps getting colder with gain in altitude. At lower altitudes, it is wetter. Climatic changes in the Himalayas take place unpredictably. Summers are salubrious but winters are bone-chilling with extreme snowfall.

30. Yet another feature that makes the Himalayas so unique is that it houses multiple ecological systems. At low altitudes we can find tropic rainforests. At mid altitudes we can find sub-tropical forests with broadleaved trees. At higher altitudes there are coniferous forests and grasslands. Higher than that, there are no signs of vegetation because of extreme cold and high speed winds.

Interesting Himalayas Facts: 31-35

31. The name Himalaya is compound word in Sanskrit. It is formed of the words Hima and Alaya. Hima means Snow and Alaya means Adobe. So, the name Himalaya literally translates into Adobe of Snow. This is a perfect name because in Great Himalayas, the snow never melts.

32. 75% of Nepal is covered by Himalayas. The Nepalese name Sagarmatha also means ‘Forehead of the Sky’. Mount Everest sits at the Nepal-Tibet border.

33. The first two people to ever reach Mount Everest were Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. They made it to the summit in 1953.

34. The Himalayas is said to be the home of the legendary Yeti. Read about Yeti here.

35. Not just Yeti, it is also believe that the mythical Gyanganj (also known as Shambala or Shangri-La) which is supposedly the land of the immortals is located somewhere in the Himalayas. In fact, there are some accounts where people claim to have encountered immortal Indian saints of Gyanganj.

Interesting Himalayas Facts: 36-40

36. The Himalayas is known for having profound impact on Tibetan and Indian Subcontinent climates. Dry and frigid winds are prevented from entering Indian Subcontinent by the Himalayan mountain system, keeping South Asia far more warmer in comparison to other continents’ temperate regions.

37. It is also believed that one of the primary reasons for the formation of Gobi and Taklamakan deserts of Central Asia is the Himalayas.

38. Another interesting Himalayas facts is that it remain the world’s second-most virgin places on earth. The first spot is taken by Antarctica. It simply means that these are the two least visited places on earth.

39. Himalayas is the home of many medical herbs of highest degree of purity. Many of these herbs have been extensively used in Ayurveda – one of the oldest know medical systems in world which originated in India.

40. In Hinduism, Himalayas in known as God Himavat, who according to Hindu religion is the father of Parvati (goddess of devotion, love and fertility in Hindu religion) and Ganga (the holy river goddess).

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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