The Significance of the Himalayas and its Importance for India
Himalayas are the most significant geographical structure of the India. They comprises the most dominating geographic feature of India. No other mountain range anywhere in the world has affected the life of people and shaped the destiny of a nation as the Himalayas have in respect of India. The Himalayas are the body and soul of the India. In a very special measure Himalayas formed the India's national mountain system. The following few points will bring out the significance of the Himalayan mountain to India:-
The Himalaya is one of the most influencing factor (other than Monsoon) on Indian climate. Blessed with the high altitude, length and location, they effectively intercept the summer monsoons coming from the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal cause precipitation in the form of rain and snow. Besides, they prevent the cold continental air masses of Central Asia from entering into India. In the absence of the Himalayas, the whole India would have been a desert devoid of the rain and its winters would have been severe under the influence of cold air masses coming from Central Asia. Latest meteorological studies proved that, the Himalayas are responsible for the splitting the jet stream into two branches and these in turn play a significant role to bring the Monsoon in India.
The Himalayas have been protecting India from outside invaders since early times thus serving as defence barrier. However the Chinese aggression on India in October 1962 has reduced the defence significance of India. In spite of the advancement in modern warfare technology, the defence role of the Himalayas can not be neglected.
Source of the Rivers
Himalayas act as a huge reservoir of water for the north Indian rivers. Almost all the great and perennial rivers of the India originate from the Himalayan mountain or glaciers, Abundant rainfall, vast snow field and huge glaciers are the feeding grounds of the mighty rivers of the India. Snow melt in summer provides water to these rivers even during dry season and hence these are perennial rivers. Himalayan rivers are the life line of the north India. Ganga, which is one of the most important river of northern India originate from one of the biggest Himalayan Glacier Gaumukh.
We know that the Himalayas are the formation of the sediments deposited in the Tethys sea. This sediment is carried by the Himalayan rivers and deposited in the northern plain in the from of the fertile soil, making the plain one the most fertile land of the world. It has been estimated that the Ganga and Indus carry 19 and 10 lakh tonnes of the silt per day respectively and the silt carried by the Brahmaputra is even more. It is, therefore, often said that the great plain of north India is a gift of the Himalayas.
Deep valley in the Himalayas are the best location for the construction of the dams. The Himalayan region offers several sites which are suitable for the production of the hydroelectricity. There are natural waterfalls at certain places while dams could be constructed across rivers at some places. However the construction of big dams on the Himalayas are disturbing the isostatic equilibrium of the Himalayan region which is responsible for the earthquakes. Huge reservoir of the water formed with the dams are affecting the climate of the local area adversely (like excess rainfall). Sustainable development of dams in this region is the need of time.
The Himalayan Ranges are very rich in forest resources. In their rising altitude, the Himalayan ranges show a succession of vegetal cover from the tropic to the Alpine. The Himalayan forests provide fuel wood and a large variety of raw materials for forests based industries. Besides many medicinal plants grow in the Himalayan region, several patches are covered with the grass offering rich pastures for grazing animals.
The Himalayas do not offer extensive flat land for agriculture but here slopes are terraced for the cultivation. Rice is the main crop on the terraced slopes. The other crops are wheat, maize, potatoes and ginger. Tea is a unique crop which can be grown on the hill slopes only. A wide variety of fruits such as apples, peaches, grapes, pears, mulberry, walnut, cherries, apricot, etc are also grown in the Himalayan region.
Himalayas provides the huge scope of tourism due to its scenic beauty and healthy environment. Beautiful landscapes on the Himalayan mountain offers a great tourist spot. The hilly areas in the Himalayas offer cool and comfortable climate when neighbouring plains are reeling under scorching heat of the summer season. Millions of tourist from different part of the country as well as from abroad throng the Himalaya tourist centers to enjoy their natural beauty and to escape from the summer heat of the plains. The increasing popularity of the winter sports and craze to enjoy snow fall has increased the rush of tourists in winters also. Some of the famous tourists spot in the Himalayas are Mussorie, Shimla, Kulu, Manali, Nainital, Chamba, Ranikhet, Almora, Darjeeling, Mirik, Gangtok, etc.
The Himalaya is abode of the Gods. Apart from its beautiful scenery and its significance as tourists place, Himalayas are proud of being studded with sanctified shrines. Mount Kailash is mentioned as the abode of the Lord Shiva in Veda. Every year thousands of pilgrims trek through the difficult terrain of the Himalayas to pay their reverence to these sacred shrines. Kailash, Amarnath, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Tungnath, Vaishnu Devi, Jwalaji, Uttarakashi, Gangotri, Yamunotri, etc are some of the important places of pilgrimage.
As we known that the Himalayas are the creation of sediments which was deposited by the rivers in Tethys sea. Along with this deposition thousands of the fossils also get buried, which today exits in the form of the minerals. The Himalayan region contains many valuable minerals. There are vast potentialities of mineral oil in the tertiary rocks. Coal is found in the Kashmir. Copper, lead, zinc, nickel, cobalt, antimony, tungsten, gold, silver, limestone, semi-precious and precious stones, gypsum and magnetite are known to occur at more than 100 localities in the Himalayas. Unfortunately, the extraction of the minerals from the Himalayan ranges is not a feasible activity, because of its complex terrain and it will also make the Himalayas more unstable as they are still the young mountains.