What is the importance of the Himalayas?

Importance of Himalayas to India:

1. A formidable physical barrier:

The Himalayas form a natural boundary of the Indian sub­ continent. Since long they have formed a formidable barrier to the free movement of man. The Passes of the Himalayas are very high and in winter remain covered with snow. As such, in the past, no large army could cross these mountains. They are a great barrier to transport and communication.

2. Climatic influence:

The Himalayas have tremendously influenced the climate of the Indian sub-continent. They hold the cold winds blowing from central Asia. Thus, there are no severe winters. The Himalayas check the moisture-bearing winds of the south from crossing to the north. Thus, they are the source of rainfall to the various parts of the sub­ continent.

To the Himalayas India owes the prominent features of her climate. By reason of its altitude and situation directly in the path of monsoon, it is most favorably conditioned for the precipitation of all their contained moisture either as rain or snow. It intercepts the monsoon clouds advancing from the southern seas and precipitates heavy rains on the Indian plains.

3. Source of perennial rivers:

The Himalaya­ yes is the “abode of snow". As such they act as reservoir of water in which many large perennial rivers and their tributaries have their sources. These perennial rivers provide water for irrigation throughout the year.

Besides, there are so many rapids and waterfalls in the courses of these rivers that they have been utilized for the generation of hide-power. These rivers bring huge quantity of silt which is spread over the Indo-Gangetic plain making the al­luvial soil soft and deep. It is because of this, the plain is so fertile that it is one of the most densely populated regions of the world.

4. Source of fertile soil:

Running water and frost have been constantly eroding the great Himalayan ranges. This debris, after being removed by numerous rivers, is ultimately deposited over the great plains of northern India. The fertile plains of the Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam have all been the product of this eroded material, producing a wide variety of agricultural crops.

5. Richness of fauna and flora:

The Himalayan region is very rich in animal and forest resources. In the front of the outer Himalayas lies the Tara jungle - the abode of many wild beasts like yak, leopard, bear and samba on the west, panthers and tigers in the central part and elephants, tigers, mistunes on the east. Besides, owing to a variety of climatic conditions the Himalayas are rich in forest resources.

On the lower reaches are largely found the tropical and sub-tropical forests yielding good, timber, while on the middle and upper reaches, there are the coniferous and deciduous soft and hard wood forests. Those forests yield a huge quantity of timber and firewood. These forests also provide raw materials for several industries.

6. Storehouse of mineral resources:

The Himalayan region contains commercially valuable minerals. Copper, lead, zinc, bismuth, antimony, nickel, cobalt and tungsten are known to occur in both the eastern and western Himalayas and more than 100 different localities. The Himalayas promise gold, silver, precious stones, limestone's, bauxite, gypsum, betonies and magnetite's. Coal, petroleum are other mineral fuels found in the region.

7. Places of tourists' attraction:

The scenery and the mighty peaks of the Great Himalayas attract tourists and climbers from different parts of the world and provable a good source of income to many hill- stations. The important hill-stations like Alomar, Dehradun, Kampong, Darjeeling, Simla, Mussoorie. Nainital, Ranked etc. attract a large number of tourists during spring and summer seasons. The Kashmir, the Chambal, the Kula, the Kanga valise are famous tourist resorts situated in the Himalayan range.

8. Other economic resources:

On the lower slopes of the Himalayas particularly in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh green pastures have made sheep and goat rearing an important occupation. Sericulture is also carried on. Pashmina wool is obtained from Kashmir. The hilly slopes in the outer Himalayas, from Assam to the Punjab are highly useful for extensive tea plantations.