HIMALAYA MOUNTAINS comprise a system of stupendous ranges, with the loftiest peaks in the world. They extend continuously for a distance of 1500 miles along the northern frontier of British India, from the Indus to the gorge where the Dihong bursts through their main axis, thus embracing the meridians 75° to 95° E. On the west, the Himalaya, with the Konen Lun, converge towards the Pamir table-land, whence the Tian Shan and the Hindu Kush radiate, and the Konen Lun and the Himalaya form respectively the northern and southern escarpment of the lofty Tibetan plateau, which has an average level of 15,000 feet. The average breadth of the Himalaya is computed at 150 miles, with a mean elevation of 18,000 to 20,000 feet ;.but there are solitary mountains and peaks rising higher,—for instance, in the Western Himalaya, Jtunnotri, 20,038 feet ; Kedarnath, 22,790 feet ; Badrinath, 23,210 feet ; Nanda Devi, 25,661 feet ;—and in the Eastern Himalaya, Dhawalgiri, 26,826 feet ; Daya bang, 23,762 feet ; Mount Everest, 29,002 feet ; Kan chinjinga, 28,156 feet.
The Himalayan system is composed of a northern, a central, and a southern range.
The northern range is naturally divided into a western and an eastern section. Its western section is known as the Kara-korum or Mustagh, and it forms the water-parting between the basins of Lob-Nor and the Indus. The Kara-korum pass is on the real line of water-parting, and the streams north of it join the Tarim basin, while those on its southern slope discharge into the Indus.
Several of the peaks along this western section of the Himalaya attain a height of 25,000 feet, and the chief one, K. 2,' 28,265 feet, is second in altitude to Mount Everest. This section of the range extends from its junction with the Hindu Kush near the Baroghil pass to Mount Kailas, near Lake Manasarowar in Tibet, and the best known passes across it are the Kara-korum and the Changchenmo, exceeding 18,000 and 19,000 feet respectively in height. But there are also the Karambar pass, the Mustagh pass, and a pass on the road between Rudok and Kiria. The southern slopes of the Mustagh range in its northern portion are covered with enormous glaciers, one of them 35 miles long. These glaciers are the source of streams which flow southwards between bare craggy mountains and join the Indus or its tributary the Shayok. The collective name applied to the various districts which comprise the valleys of the Indus, Basha, Braldu, Shigar, Shayok, etc., is Baltistan. The inhabitants are Mahomedanized Tibetans of Turanian stock, and there is a small body of Aryans called Dards.
To the E. of Lake Manasarowar, a saddle which is crossed by the Mariam-la pass, connects the northern and central ranges of the Himalaya.
On its eastern side rises the Tsan-pu (To-chok tsang-pu), of which the northern range forms the northern watershed as far as to the south of the Sky Lake (Tengri-nur in Mongolian, and Nam-cho in Tibetan). Hence it appears to curve round the lake in a north-easterly direction for 150 miles, after which its further course is unknown.
The subsidiary chain between the northern and central ranges runs from Mount Kailas, near Lake Manasarowar, to the junction of the Indus and the Shayok. Major Cunningham called it the Kailas or Gangri range. It is 550 miles in length. Its peaks average between 16,000 and 20,000 feet in height, and it is crossed in its northern portion by a number of passes, which lead from the valley of the Indus into that of the Shayok. About lat. 33° 12' N., the Indus deviates at right angles, and pierces right through this granite range to resume a north-westerly course beyond. The southern portion of this range lies in Tibetan territory, and has been crossed at four points by native explorers.
The central range has its commencement in the Nanga Parbat, 26,629 feet high. It towers con spicuously on the extrene verge of the Kashmir frontier above the Indus valley, and has been seen by General Cunningham from Ramnagar, in the Panjab, a distance of 205 miles. Proceeding from this point towards the south-east, we find that for the first 50 or 60 miles the central range forms the water-parting between the Indus and the Jhelum. Two roads, joining the Kishenganga and Astor rivers, go over passes of upwards of 13,000 feet, and others lead into the bras valley. At the point where the Dras pass (11,300 feet) affords access from the Kashmir valley to the high table-land of Ladakh, a minor range branches off and separates successively the Sind valley, the northern part of the vale of Kashmir, and the Jhelum valley, on the south, from the Kishenganga on the north. A little south of the same pass, another ridge branches off, and, running north and south, forms the eastern boundary of the vale, till, near Banihal, it joins itself to the Pir Panjal range, which again runs east and west for about 30 miles, then turns N.N.W., and continues for some 40 miles more till it dies off towards the valley of the Jhelum. This range completes the mountainous girdle which encircles the valley of Kashmir. About the vicinity of the bras pass, the range increases in height, and the peaks are high enough to form glaciers, two of them, Nun and Kun, being each over 23,000 feet in height. The north-eastern slope of the drains into the Indus, the Sum and Zanskar being the chief ' rivers. A little farther to the south, the Bars Lacha pass (16,200 feet) affords a route from Lahul and Kangra to Leh.