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The Roaring Himalayas

Rehan Sheikh

Born in the laps of Uttarakhand, I was always in awe of the beauty of the mountains and the forests but could never gain courage to go to explore it. From the windows of my house I have enjoyed the breathtaking view of the Himalayas several times but recently I was having an urge to walk through the mountains and capture its beauty from the inner core of my heart.

            Uttarakhand has a total geographic area of 53,483 km², of which 86% is mountainous and 65% is covered by forest .Most of the northern parts of the state are part of Greater Himalaya ranges, covered by the high Himalayan peaks and glaciers, while the lower foothills were densely forested .The unique Himalayan ecosystem plays host to many animals (including bharal, snow leopards, leopards and tigers), plants and rare herbs. Two of India’s great rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna take birth in the glaciers of Uttarakhand, and are fed by myriad lakes, glacial melts and streams.

            Uttarakhand lies on the southern slope of the Himalaya range, and the climate and vegetation vary greatly with elevation, from glaciers at the highest elevations to tropical forests at the lower elevations. The highest elevations are covered by ice and bare rock. Nanda Devi is the highest land point of Uttarakhand with the altitude of 7,816 metres above sea level. Sharda Sagar Reservoir is the lowest land point of Uttarakhand with the altitude of 190 metres. Western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows occur between 3,000 and 5,000 metres, tundra and alpine meadows cover the highest elevations, Rhododendron-dominated shrublands cover the lower elevations. Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests lie just below the tree line; at 3,000 to 2,600 metres   elevation they transition to western Himalayan broadleaf forests, which lie in a belt from 2,600 to 1,500 metres elevation. Below 1,500 metres   elevation lie the Himalayan subtropical pine forests.  

            That day as I could see the snow-capped mountain peak from the roof of my house suddenly I was in a trance and strange stuffs started creeping in and out of my head. Civilisation changes, climate changes, weather changes but the mountain stand still and can we even guess how many incidents they have witnessed. The mountain withstands all the natural calamities and stands strong through ages. The Himalaya has witnessed numerous intriguing and interesting events ranging from the rich exchange of art, science and culture between civilisations of Europe and Asia to threatening wars and disputes that intimidated India. The rugged terrain and the harsh climatic conditions did not discourage travellers such as Fa Hein and Hiuen Tsang from entering India through the snowbound Himalayan mountain range.

            The day when Alexander, the Great Macedonian Emperor, came to conquer this country through the Khyber Pass in the Himalaya, the Himalayas still was there and today when I was looking at the peak it is still there. While Atisha, the great Buddhist monk carried the word of Buddha to parts of Tibet and China and to all those places lying on the Silk Route, Adi Sankara moved through the Himalayan Passes establishing the doctrines of our Sanathana Dharma.

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