The Mighty Himalayas

The Himalayas, the world’s largest mountain range, include extensive mountain ranges with 95 peaks reaching a height of over 7500 m. These mountain ranges measure about 2,560, km in length and their breadth varying from 240 km to 320 km. As a great barrier these ranges have not only checked the intrusions but also protected us from the cold winds coming from the north. Nevertheless, the passes have provided access to the invaders, traders, and missionaries etc. which resulted in interactions in various spheres. The Himalayas can be further sub-divided into three main sections: (i) Eastern Himalayas, (ii) Central Himalayas, and (iii) Western Himalayas. The Eastern Himalayan section extends from Darjeeling to the Assam-Burma ranges. The Central Himalayan region covers the areas from Bhutan in the east to Chitral at the fringe of the great table-land of Tibet in the west. The Indian sections of the Central Himalayas are separated by Nepal into the western and eastern regions. The Hindukush ranges form the westward extension of the Himalayas into Afghanistan. The Karakoram range, which now lies in Pakistan, 19 is the greatest part of the northernmost Himalayan ranges. This is separated from the Zaskar ranges running parallel to the south by the Indus river. Surrounded by these high peaks in the north and the Pir Panjal in the southwest lies the Himalayan valley of Kashmir.

For thousands of years the Himalayas have held a profound significance for the peoples of South Asia, as their literature, mythologies, and religions reflect. Since ancient times the vast glaciated heights have attracted the attention of the pilgrim mountaineers of India , who coined the Sanskrit name Himalaya—from hima (“snow”) and alaya (“abode”)—for that great mountain system. In contemporary times the Himalayas have offered the greatest attraction and the greatest challenge to mountaineers throughout the world.

Though India , Nepal, and Bhutan have sovereignty over most of the Himalayas, Pakistan and China also occupy parts of them. In the disputed Kashmir region, Pakistan has administrative control of some 32,400 square miles (83,900 square km) of the range lying north and west of the “line of control” established between India and Pakistan in 1972. China administers some 14,000 square miles (36,000 square km) in the Ladakh district of Kashmir and has claimed territory at the eastern end of the Himalayas within the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Those disputes accentuate the boundary problems faced by India and its neighbours in the Himalayan region.

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