Himalayan VOICES High Himalaya FORUM Himalayan Heritage  
 > Factsheets
To see the Himalayas up close,
go to Media Gallery
To understand the Himalayan worlds a bit better,
see Readings under
Ecology & Environment
Society & Culture
Economy & Livelihoods
Welfare & Infrastructure
on Factsheets
Mount Sumeru in Factsheets
Pemako in Myths & Legends
Notable Passes in Geography
Explorations in Trivia
A collection of the most important facts about the Himalaya mountains that help understand its location, magnitude, ecology, society, and other key features.
The Himalayas are the mightiest of mountains with the highest peaks, the deepest gorges, the highest village, the highest animal and plant. Although scientists and explorers have revealed to us many of the mysteries of the Himalayas, much still lies unveiled. The nature of the terrain is such that it would be extremely difficult to state with complete certainty that we know all about it with the current technologies in use. Besides, the Himalayas are a young and dynamic mountain system that is perpetually evolving and changing- increasing in height every year, being eroded on a grand scale by fierce winds, ice and water, intermittently shaken and reshaped by the cataclysmic forces of nature- earthquakes and avalanches, glaciers vanishing and gorges being carved, rivers changing course and forests being inundated. The Himalayas we know and have mapped today, will not be the same tomorrow.
Introduction to the Himalayas

The Himalayas are a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan plateau. The word Himalaya is derived from two Sanskrit words ‘hima’ meaning snow, and ‘alaya’ meaning home. Thus, Himalaya means ‘abode of snow’. The term was coined by the ancient pilgrims of India who were the first to explore this region. Sometimes the Himalayas are also called Himachal, Himadri, or Himavat, all of which mean ‘eternal snow’. The term Himalayan system loosely refers to the Himalayas and their neighbouring ranges, the Karakoram, Pamir, Hindukush, Tien Shan and Kun Lun, which extend out from the Pamir Knot. They have the unique feature of being the highest as well as the youngest mountain ranges in the world. Together they stretch across the following countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bhutan, China, Tibet, India, and Nepal.


The Himalayan range stretches uninterruptedly for 2900 km from west to east, between the Nanga Parbat (8,126 m) in the region of Jammu and Kashmir and the Namcha Barwa (7,755 m) in Tibet. The width varies from 400 km in the western Kashmir-Xinjiang region to 150 km in the eastern Tibet-Arunachal Pradesh region. This range includes some of the highest mountains in the world with over 100 peaks of elevations above 7200 m. One such peak is the Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world with a height of 8850 m.

read about- Classification of the Himalaya
Factsheet themes
Facts on Himalayan Ecology
Flora of the Himalayas
The Indian Himalayas are unique in the fact that they are home to a multitude of plant species, many of which are endemic to the region. They are a storehouse of the most rare and valuable species of medicinal plants, with approximately 1700 species being classified as high-value plants...
View All
Facts on Himalayan Culture
Festivals of the Himalayas
As a direct impact of the religious diversity of the region, varied festivals are celebrated in the Himalayan region, replete with vibrant dances and customs that often fascinate an outsider. Festivals not only mark important dates ...
View All
Map Title The Himalayas & the Tibetan Plateau
Details: Map showing satellite imagery of Tibetan plateau and the Himalayan mountain ranges. It displays the topographical variations, snow cover, presence of water body and vegetation...
View All
Himalayan Artifacts
The Arts & Crafts database is a compilation of various Himalayan arts & crafts and their distinctive features. The database describes the artifacts, their utility, raw materials and their importance in present-day Himalayan society...
Himalayan Trivia
The Himalaya is the source of the Indus Basin, the Yangtze Basin and the Ganga- Brahmaptura, which are three of the worlds primary river systems.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, the Khyber Pass was the most frequented route of all the long distance international caravan trade routes out of India.
In Tibet, Mount Everest is known as Chomolangma, which means “Mother of the Universe”.
read more Himalayan Trivia
Myths & Legends of the Himalayas

Myths and legends are usually traditional stories that are often passed down through history but lack factual evidence. Often myths have a religious or spiritual significance. The Himalayan region has been associated with countless myths and mystical creatures since ages. Some of the popular myths and legends are mentioned below.

Formation of the Himalaya
A chapter in the Mahabharata describes the formation of the Himalaya. In the very beginning, the Hindu god Vishnu used to dwell on the northern shore of a great sea (this was later identified as the Tethys Sea). The only other inhabitants were a pair of seagulls Every year the female seagull would lay her eggs by the shore of the sea...
read more Myths & Legends