This is without a doubt one of the most amazing mountain ranges on the planet.
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of interesting facts about the Himalayas, the roof of the world!
1. The name of the range is derived from a Sanskrit word
The name of the highest mountain range in the world, “Himalayas” or the “Himalaya Mountains,” was derived from the Sanskrit word “Himālaya.” This word literally translates to “Abode of the Snow.”
This is a combination of the words “himá,” which translates to “snow,” and “ā-laya,” which means “dwelling.”
The word “Himālaya” in both Hindi and Nepali both means “Land of the Snow.”
2. The Himalayas consist of multiple separate mountain ranges
This enormous mountain range has a total length of about 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) and consists of 4 distinctively separate ranges that run parallel with each other in the north and south.
- Ranges in the north: Lower Himalayan Range – the Great Himalayas, – Tibetan Himalayas.
- Range in the south: Sivalik Hills or Churia Hills.
The highest mountains are located in the Great Himalayas, which form the central part of the range.
3. The range features one of the deepest canyons in the world
One of the most remarkable facts about the Himalayas is that the ranges in the north and south are separated by an incredible canyon known as the “Kali Gandaki Gorge.” This gorge is part of the enormous Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon.
It has a height of about 2,520 meters (8,270 feet) and is sometimes considered to be the deepest canyon in the world and has been an important trade route between India and Tibet for many centuries.
4. The range covers areas in 5 different countries
The mountain range runs all across the northern part of the Indian subcontinent and covers areas in these 5 different countries:
There are 2 adjoining mountain ranges that extend into other countries, but these are usually not included. These are the Hindu Kush Range which extends into Afghanistan, and the Hkakabo Razi Range which extends into Myanmar.
5. This young range was formed when India crashed into Asia’s mainland
One of the most stunning facts about the Himalayas is that the highest mountain range is also one of the youngest mountain ranges on the planet.
During the Upper Cretaceous, around 70 million years ago, the Indian subcontinent was moving north at a pace of about 15 centimeters (5.9 inches) a year. 50 million years later, it started colliding with the Asian mainland.
This event literally pushed the sedimentary rocks settled on the ocean floor upwards to create the Himalayas. This also means that the peaks of the highest mountains consist of marine limestone which was once located at the bottom of this ancient ocean!
6. The range continues to rise every year due to geological activity
So did the Indian subcontinent suddenly stop colliding into the Asian Mainland?
Not at all!
It still pushes the Tibetan Plateau upwards at a rate of 67 millimeters per year and will continue to do so for a period of at least 10 million years. By then, the Indian subcontinent will have moved a distance of 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) into Asia.
Because of this, the Himalayas are increasing in height at a pace of about 5 millimeters per year. This might seem insignificant, but really isn’t considering a period of 10 million years lies ahead!
7. Ten of the Fourteen peaks over 8,000 meters are located here
Did you know that the highest mountain in the world isn’t located in the Himalayas?
Well, when measured from the earth’s core, the highest mountain in the world is actually Chimborazo, one of the highest peaks in the Andes Mountains in South America which stands 6,263.47 meters (20,549.4 feet).
When measured from sea level, Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world and way higher at a height of 8,848.86 meters (29,031.7 feet).
The mountain range really features most of the highest mountains on the planet. There are 50 peaks that are higher than 7,200 meters (23,600 feet) above sea level, and 10 of the 14 peaks over 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) are located here as well.
In reference, the highest mountain outside of Asia is Mount Aconcagua in the Andes which stands 6,961 meters (22,838 feet) tall.
8. It contains the third-largest ice deposit in the world
The Himalayas are extremely important for the water supply of millions of people who live at the foot of this majestic mountain range. All of its rivers flow into the two most important river basins in the region, the Indus Basin and the Ganges-Brahmaputra Basin.
This also means that many of these rivers feed two of the most important rivers in the region as well., the Indus and the Ganges.
One of the most fascinating facts about the Himalayas is that it contains over 15,000 incredible glaciers which store about 12,000 cubic kilometers (2,900 cubic miles) of freshwater. This makes the range the third-largest ice and snow deposit in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic.
At a height of approximately 7,600 meters (24,900 feet), the “Khumbu Glacier” near Mount Everest is also the world’s highest glacier!
9. The range features some breathtaking lakes
The mountain range is full of small and relatively large lakes. Hundreds of lakes are located in some of the most astounding surroundings in the vicinity of majestic mountains.
One fascinating lake named Lake Manasarovar is considered to be sacred in 4 different religions: Bön, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. It is fed by the glaciers of a mountain which is also considered to be sacred in these religions, Mount Kailash.
This lake has a surface area of 420 square kilometers (160 square miles), a maximum depth of 90 meters (300 feet), and is located at an altitude of 4,590 meters (15,060 feet).
10. The Himalayas are one of the main reasons that it’s so hot in India
The range is so vast that the climate differs considerably based on the location. In the southern foothills, the climate can be considered tropical and humid. On the other side in Tibet, the climate is extremely dry and cold.
One of the most interesting facts about the Himalayas is that they play a crucial role in the climate of the Indian subcontinent. Because of their high altitude, dry and cold winds can’t blow into the subcontinent which means it’s much warmer here than in other regions of the world at the same latitude.
On the flip side, they also prevent humidity to reach the central part of Asia which is why they play a major role in the formation of some of the famous deserts here such as the Taklamakan Desert and Gobi Desert.
11. A fearsome but endangered predator lives here at high altitudes
With different climates in various locations, different flora and fauna can be witnessed in the mountain range. Some of the most fascinating animals that live here are Himalayan brown bears and the Asian Black bear. A large ungulate named the Himalayan tahr is an endemic animal.
One of the most fascinating creatures roaming around at high altitudes in this range is the snow leopard, a very elusive animal that is considered to be endangered according to the IUCN Red List.
12. This religiously significant structure was built in a fascinating location
We already mentioned that a lake and mountain are considered to be sacred in multiple religions, but there are more interesting sites that have a high level of religious importance.
One of the most fascinating locations is a religious site called “Paro Taktsang,” a monastery located on a cliff in Bhutan. It’s believed that the Second Buddha named “Padmasambhava” founded Buddhism in Bhutan here.
This monastery is also referred to as “Taktsang Palphug Monastery” and the “Tiger’s Nest” and was built around a cave on a cliff in the year 1692. It’s one of the most important cultural icons in Bhutan.