The Himalayas (Sanskrit for “abode of snow") is a range of three varying heights of mountainous regions that run through the Asian region. The range begins with a sharp rise from the Gangetic Plain. The Tibetan Plateau lies north of the mountains, known as the Earth’s highest mountain range. Famous peaks shoot from this mountain range, such as Mount Everest, K2 or Mount Godwin Austen, Kanchenjunga, and Nanga Parbat.
Thirty to fifty million years ago, the Himalayan range developed from a process known as plate tectonics, which pushed the Indian plate against the Eurasian continental plate. This process created the range of mountains and is still at work today. The moving plates rearranged the deposits that lay in the shallow sea known as Tethys. Earthquakes and tremors occur often in the area even today, as the range continues to move, shift and change.
The Himalayan mountain range pushes skyward from Pakistan through northern India and follows suit in Nepal to Bhutan and onward to the Burmese border. As the plates form the range, they lie in separate zones. These zones are known as the Great Himalayas, the Middle Himalayas and the Sub-Himalayas. The sub-Himalayas include the Siwalik range and the foothills. Two areas of land that lie at the base of the mountain range are Tarai and Duars, which are both included in the sub-Himalayas as well.
Within the Great Himalayan region are several of the most inaccessible areas of the world. Clustered settlements are located in the higher valleys; however, winter weather that lasts for many months, leaves a shorter crop season deters most farmers. Farmers surviving this section of the mountain range are limited to one crop per year. Potatoes or barley are the crops that survive the best in this region, due to cold weather and the shorter warm temperature seasons.
During the summer, the oldest trails are open that cross through the mountain passes that allow some trade between Nepal, Pakistan and China. Although the construction of highways links the three regions, they are limited due to the mountainous layout.
Running along the south of the Great Himalayans, the middle Himalayas has an average width of 50 miles that contains mostly higher ranges within and outside of the Great Himalayas. Mountain ranges that lie within the middle Himalayas are the Nag Tibba, Dhaola Dhar, the Pir Panjal and the Mahabharat. When the middle Himalayas was formed during the plate tectonic process, an amazingly uniformed height was created.
Between the forested ranges and valleys that lie fertile, the formation of an isolated area from the plains of the Indus and Ganges rivers in Pakistan and northern India became the middle Himalayas. The mountains work as a “wall" of sorts, to separate the valleys from the ranges. The area is moderately populated, with few roads and routes between towns. Travel remains difficult with this lack of dirt or paved roads. Centers that are higher in population are considered the only links to larger cities such as India and Pakistan.
Sub-Himalayas outline the lowest and most southern of the zones, bordering the North India and Pakistan plains. Gradually narrowing, with the sub-Himalayas being at about 30 miles in width and running until they are almost gone completely. The main feature of the sub-Himalayas is the flat valleys or duns that are spindle-shaped and filled with alluvium. Forests of this region are gone, destroyed as much of the land has been claimed for agricultural use.