The Magnificent Himalayas
The colossal Himalayan Mountains form a border between the Indian subcontinent and the rest of Asia. The Himalayas are the world’s tallest mountains, towering more than five miles above sea level. Himalaya means “home of snow” because the tallest peaks of the Himalayas are always capped with snow. The mountain range includes Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. Everest rises 29,028 feet above sea level on the border between India and Nepal.
The Himalayas are among the youngest (with regard to when the earth was formed) mountain ranges on the planet and consist mostly of uplifted sedimentary and metamorphic rock. According to the modern theory of plate tectonics, their formation is a result of a continental collision between the Indo-Australia Plate and the Eurasian Plate. This is referred to as a fold mountain. There is a continuous movement along the Indo-Australian belt to this day and the Himalayan range continues to grow each year at the rate of 5 mm per year.
The Himalayan range has been home to a various flora and fauna. The vegetation varies according to both altitude and climatic conditions. They range from the tropical deciduous forests in the foothills, to temperate forests in the middle altitudes. Higher up, coniferous, sub-alpine, and alpine forests spring up. These finally give way to alpine grasslands and high altitude meadows. They are followed by scrub lands which lead up to the permanent snowline. The vegetation also varies from the unexplored tropical rain forests of the Eastern Himalayas, to the dense subtropical and alpine forests of the Central and Western Himalayas to the sparse desert vegetation of the cold desert areas of the Trans Himalaya.
The Himalayas also feature a fragile ecosystem. For centuries, this ecosystem has remained delicately balanced, and has been responsible for the tremendous biodiversity of the Himalayas. Only in recent years has the ecosystem been disturbed due to exploitation by man. In order for the Himalayas to retain its splendor, it is our duty to protect it.