Significance of the Northern Mountain Wall (Himalayas)

No other mountain system in the world has affected the lives of the people and shaped the destiny of the nation, like the Himalayas. The Himalayas are actually called the ‘body and soul’ of India. The Northern Mountain Wall are very important for the Indian subcontinent due to the following reasons-

(1) Separate Identity of a Subcontinent- The Northern Mountain Wall has several high mountain ranges that formed a barrier and isolated South Asia from the other parts of Eurasia. The Himalayas form a wall and separate the Indian Subcontinent in the north from China and Central Asia. The Hindukush in the northwest forms a water divide between the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and Indus Valley in Pakistan. The Karakoram Range forms India’s frontier with Afghanistan and China. These high, steep, snow-covered mountains have given the subcontinent a separate and unique cultural identity.

(2) Climatic Significance- The Himalayas play a very significant role in influencing the climate of India. It forms a climatic divide. Himalayan mountain prevents the cold wind blows from Central Asia during winter in India. That is why India does not experience severe colds in winter. In summer southwest monsoon blows from the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea towards the Indian Subcontinent. Himalayan mountain intercepts the monsoon and causes precipitation in the Indian subcontinent. Without the Himalayas, the whole of India would have been a desert.

(3) Source of Rivers- Enough rainfall and vast snowfields in these mountains are the source of perennial rivers. The melting snow provides enough water during the dry season. The rivers and their numerous tributaries, coming from the Northern Mountains, form the basis of life in the northern plains of the Indian Subcontinent.

(4) Source of Fertile Soil- The rivers flowing through the Himalayas constantly erode the mountains and bring sediments that are deposited in the alluvial plains. These plains are one of the most fertile regions of the world and support intensive agriculture, due to which these are one of the most densely populated regions of the world.

(5) Source of Irrigation and Hydroelectric Power Generation- The rivers Ganga, Indus and their tributaries form numerous rapids and waterfalls which can be (and many have been) tapped to be utilized for generating hydroelectric power. Dams have been constructed across the rivers to store water in the reservoirs so that it is available for generating power and to provide ample water for irrigation in the dry season.

(6) Valuable Forests- The forest resources of the Himalayan ranges are very rich. Some are rarely seen anywhere in the world. The varied altitude of the Himalayan ranges supports different types of vegetal cover from the tropical to Alpine. The Himalayan forest is the source of fuelwood, and raw material for forest-based industries, medicinal plants and rich pasture for grazing animals. These forests provide a variety of wild animal life.

(7) Mineral Wealth- Many parts of the Northern Mountains have rich reserves of minerals and fuel resources such as petroleum, coal, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, silver, tungsten, limestone etc. Unfortunately, most of the resources cannot be gainfully exploited due to adverse geographical conditions.

(8) Tourism- The scenic beauty of the Himalayas in the form of snow-clad mountains, lush forests, sparkling lakes and wildlife are a source of attraction for the people. The cool climate of the hills has led to the establishment of many hill stations such as Mussoorie, Shimla, Darjeeling, Nainital, etc. which provide respite to the people during the summers. Many places have religious significance and have developed as pilgrimage centres.

Physiography Of IndiaProtection Of Wildlife / Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
Rivers of IndiaClassification of Soils in India
Seasonal Rhythm Of Indian MonsoonSoil Erosion & Soil Conservation Measures
Forest and Wildlife ResourcesWeather and climate

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