The Trans Himalayas and the Eastern or the Purvanchal

Photo by ArtHouse Studio

In previous posts, we further classified the first division of the Himalayas i.e.The Himalayan Ranges into three parts - the Shiwalik Ranges, the Middle or the Lesser Himalayasand the Great Himalayas. Now in this post, we will discuss the location and geographical features of the other two divisions of the Himalayas i.e.the Trans Himalayas and the Eastern Hills or the Purvanchal.

The Trans Himalayas

The Himalayan Ranges immediately to the north of The Great Himalayan Range are called the Trans Himalayas. Most of the part of this Himalayan range lies in Tibet and is hence also called Tibetan Himalaya. With an average elevation of 3,000 mt above mean sea level, the Trans Himalayas stretches for a distance of about 1,000 km in the east-west direction and its average width varies from 40 km at the eastern and western extremities and about 225km in the central part. The Zaskar, the Ladakh, the Kailash, and the Karakoram are the main ranges of the trans-Himalayan system.

The Zaskar Range branches off from the great Himalayan Range near 80 degrees E longitude and runs more or less parallel to it. The Nanga Parbat (8126 mt) forms its culmination in the northwest but the adjoining Deosai Mountain may also be included in it. The Ladakh range is in the north of the Zaskar range which runs parallel to it. This range is having an average elevation of 5,800 mt. above sea level and it is about 300 km long, only a few peaks of this range attain a height of over 6000 mt. The Rakaposhi-Haramosh ranges beyond the Indus may be treated as an extension of the Ladakh range to the northwest. The Kailash range (Gangdise in Chinese) in western Tibet is an offshoot of the Ladakh range. Its average elevation is 5,500-6,000 mt above sea level and its average width is 30 km. Mount Kailash (6,714 mt) is the highest peak in this range. River Indus originates from the northern slope of the Kailash range.

The northernmost range of the Trans Himalayan ranges in India is the Great Karakoram range also known as Krishnagiri. It forms India's frontiers with Afghanistan and China and acts as a watershed between India and Turkestan. It extends eastwards from the Pamir for about 800 km. The average width of this range is 120-140 km. It is a range of lofty peaks and its elevation hardly ever falls below 5,500 mt. It is the abode of some of the greatest Glaciers of the world outside the polar regions. Some of the peaks are more than 8,000 mt above mean sea level. K2 is the second-highest peak in the world and the highest in the Indian Territory. It has been named Godwin Austen by the Britishers and Qogir by China.

The other peaks which are rising more than 8,000 mt above sea level and are located in this range are Gasherbum I or Hidden peak ( 8,068 mt), Broad Peak (8,047 mt), and Gasherbum II (8,035 mt). Another 19 peaks in the Karakoram range cross the 7,600 mt elevation mark and those over 7,000 mt have not been fully enumerated. The Ladakh Plateau, in Karakoram Rage, is the highest plateau of the Indian Union with an average elevation of over 5000 mt above sea level.

The Eastern Hills or the Purvanchal

After crossing the Dihang gorge, the Himalayas take a sudden southward turn and form a series of comparatively low hills running in the shape of a crescent with its convex side pointing towards the west. These hills are collectively called the Purvanchal because they are located in the eastern part of India. Extending from Arunachal Pradesh in the north to Mizoram in the south, they form India's border with Myanmar. Differing markedly from the Himalayas in the scale of their relief and in their morphology, these hill ranges nonetheless stem from the same orogeny.

In the north is the Patkai Bum which forms the international boundary between Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. It is the creation of strong sandstone and rises to an elevation varying from 2,000 to 3,000 mt. It merges into Naga Hills after running for some distance southwards, where Saramati (3,826 mt) is the highest peak. Patkai Bum and Naga Hills form the watershed between India and Myanmar. The Kohima Hills to the west are made up of sandstone and slate and have a very rough topography. Manipur Hills lies in the south of Naga Hills, having an elevation of less than 2,500 mt. they form the boundary between Manipur and Myanmar. The Barail Hills separate the Naga hills from Manipur Hills. Further south the Barail range swings to the southwest and then west into Jainta, Khasi, and Garo Hills which are an eastward continuation of the Indian peninsular block, and have been separated by the Bengal basin. South of the Manipur hills are the Mizo Hills which have an elevation of less than 1,500 mt. The highest point is the Blue Mountain (2,157 mt) in the south. It is obvious that the eastern hills decrease as we move from north to south. Although comparatively low, these hill ranges are rather forbidding because of the rough terrain, dense forest, and swift stream.    

Information for this Article is taken from D R Khullar's book :  India: A Comprehensive Geography
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