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<< Indian Himalayas << About Himalayas >> << History of  Himalayas >>

H i s t o r y  o f  H i m a l a y a s

The Himalayas are part of the string of Eurasian mountain ranges from the Alps to the mountains of Southeast Asia that were formed within the past sixty five million years by global plate-tectonic forces that produced tremendous upheavals in the Earth's crust.

Etymologically Himalaya means "abode of snow" in sanskrit {from hima "snow", and aalaya "abode"}. The correct name for the range is Himalaya, though the plural Himalayas is often used.  The Himalaya stretch across five nations Pakistan, China, India, Nepal, and Bhutan. It is the source of two of the world's major river systems the Indus Basin and the Ganga-Brahmaputra Basin. An estimated 750 million people live in the watershed area of the Himalayan rivers, which also includes Bangladesh.  The Himalaya is a mountain range in Asia Separating the Indian Subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau.  By Extension it is also the name of the massive mountain system which includes the Himalaya proper, the Karakoram, the Hindu Kush, and host of minor ranges extending from the Pamir Knot.

To comprehend the enormous scale of Himalayan peaks, consider that Aconcagua at 22,841 feet [6962m.] is the highest mountain in the Andes, while there are over thirty peaks in the Himalaya exceeding 25,000 feet [7620m.]

The Himalayan have attracted geologists, geographers and lovers of nature.  They have a strange fascination for artists, poets photographers and mystics.  They are a paradise for trekkers and mountaineers and are the cradle of thousands of rivers, streams and glaciers. The Himalaya extend over 2500 km in east-west and between 250 to 425 Km in north-South direction.

The Himalaya can be divided into four zones parallel to each other :

The Shiwalik Foothills

5 to 50 km. wide and their altitude rarely exceeds 1500m. This region is generally covered with damp forest.

The Great Himalaya

Comprising the Zone of high snow-caped peaks which are about 150 or 160 Km. from the edge of the plains, this consists of lower alpine zone up to 4875 M. and upper snow-bound zone usually above 4575M. to 5100 M. The alpine zone has rhododendrons, thick shrubs with variety of beautiful flowers and grass.

The Trans Himalayan Zones

About 40Km. in width, encompassing the valleys of the rivers rising behind the great Himalaya, these river basins are at an altitude of 3600M. to 4250M.

Himalaya Ranges

The most extraordinary thing about Himalaya is the way they have been formed in three parallel ranges known as Great Himalaya, the Lesser or the Central Himalaya and the Outer or the Shiwalik Himalaya.  Commencing at Nanga Parbat in the north-west, these ranges pass through Pakistan, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Garhwal, Kumaon, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan & Arunachal Pradesh. M o r e  I n f o.

Himalayan Nature & Abstract

Since time immemorial, symbols reflecting ideology and social order have been used by human societies. Archaeologists and ancient scholars affirm that this tradition goes back to the Paleolithic period, the earliest stage in the evolution of the Homo Sapiens.

However, it was only with the rise of urban civilization the world over that one sees as almost theatrical increase in the production and the use of symbolic objects. The symbols of the Indus Valley civilization were also produced in the context of cities. The innumerable finds of symbolic representations and objects in the different cities of Indus civilization are both exotic and mind boggling. Unfortunately, the exact and specific meaning of Indus symbols eludes us because of the absence of written texts.

Many scholars tried to co-relate the Indus symbols and ritual objects with those used by the later Hindu and Buddhist cultures. However, the inability to decipher the Indus script clouds any final conclusion and neither the Indus script clouds any final conclusion and neither can one be certain about the precise meaning of symbols in a particular period. This is because the meanings of a specific symbol might have changed over a period time. Therefore, the meaning of symbols can only be inferred by examining the different contexts in which the symbolic objects and representations were found.

The use of the Pipal tree as a religious symbol appears to have discrete regional variations. At Mohenjodaro, the deity is always seen standing in the centre of the tree, while at Harappa the deity is placed below an arch made of leaves. The use of garlands and arches made out of Pipal leaves in addition establishes the divine character of the tree. The Pipal and banyan trees are quite common throughout Hindu mythology, where they serve as important symbols of fertility and protection and also death. On the Indus seals, however, the protective and the sacred power of the tree were distinctly portrayed, but it is difficult to confirm any other specific meaning.

Himalayas Symbolic Representations

In order to produce these symbolic objects, artisans perfected many new technologies. Advanced metallurgy was essential to create bronze sculptures and high temperature kilns for manufacturing glazed ornaments, stoneware bangles and all the important seals. These crafts and objects also required standardized form, size and decoration. The production of the various symbolic objects and motifs thus was accomplished through craft specialization and these crafts in turn also helped in maintaining the ritual order.

For instance, such crafts as stoneware bangle-making, seal production and chert weight manufacture, were directly controlled in segregated workshops by the rulers or the state to limit access to these important symbols of power. Moreover, the process of production of stoneware bangles was shrouded in mystery and preserved through complex rituals to enhance the value of the object.

One can surmise this on the basis of the disappearance of this technology with the decline of the Indus elite and cities and was not reproduced again in South Asia till date. Thus, the ancient Indus symbols served a plethora of necessities of Indus people and reciprocally these symbols required a political and ritual edifice for their maintenance.

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