India is a country with a very interesting and varied topography. It has distinct mountain ranges, plateaus and flat areas. There are three major mountain ranges in the Indian subcontinent: the Eastern Ghats, the Western Ghats and the Himalayas Mountain Range.
The Eastern Ghats have disconnected mountain ranges of relatively low altitude, (maximum height of 1, 653m; 5, 510 ft) which run from Odisha in the northeast to Tamil in the southeast.
The Western Ghats are a little higher, with a peak of 2,695 m (8, 983 ft). They run north to south along the entire western region of India. They begin at Gujarat near the border of Pakistan and terminate near the southern point of India.
There are two other minor ranges I will also mention. The Satpura and Vindhya ranges in central India are in the same region and are parallel to each other; the Satpura being the southern parallel.
Northwest of the Vindhya (the northern parallel) and on the eastern limits of the Thar Desert is the Aravali Range. This range has a length of 692 km (430 miles), with the highest point (Guru Shikhar) being just 1, 722 m (5,650 ft). The Aravali Range plays a very important role in Indian climate as it prevents rain bearing wind from reaching the Thar Desert. On one side of the range, there is lush, green vegetation and a climate that is suitable for agriculture. On the opposite side of the range sits a monstrous desert with an unfriendly climate.
What is quite amazing though is that the most prominent of all the ranges is the mighty Himalayas Mountain Range. This perpetual snow-crested beauty is a great attraction to tourists, mountain climbers, and scientists not only from India but from many other countries across the globe. This renowned region covers the entire northern limits of India and is also a part of four other countries: China, Nepal, Pakistan and Bhutan, traversing a distance of 2,500 km (1, 550 miles). This famous range runs east to west from Namcha Barwa peak in Tibet to Nanga Parbat Peak in the Kashmir region of Pakistan. The Himalayan range is divided into three lengthwise bands: the Great Himalayas, the Outer and Lesser bands.
There are also other major sub-ranges and divisions that extend from the Himalayas. In the northwest, we have the Karakoram and Pir Panjal Ranges and in the east, we have the Purvanchal Range.
What is the lure of the Himalayas? This is the highest mountain range in the world in this region and the top 100 highest peaks in the world are also found in this expanse. These range from 7, 221 m (23,684 ft) (Karjiang) to 8, 848 m (29,029 ft) – Mount Everest. If this claim seems absurd or a little too incredible to you, just make a quick comparison of the mountains in the other continents:
- The highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro is 5895 m
- The highest mountain in Australia, Mount Kosciuszko is 2,228 m
- The highest mountain in Europe, Mount Elbrus is 5,642 m
- The highest mountain in South America, Aconcagua is 6,962 m
- The highest mountain in North America, Mount Denali is 6, 190 m
This comparison reveals that the top 100 peaks of the Himalayas and its sub-ranges are still leaps and bounds above the tallest ranges in any of the other six continents.
Most of these peaks are found in India. The third highest peak in the world, (Kangchenjunga) is in India while the second highest, (K2), is located in the disputed borders of Pakistan, China and India. The highest peak, Mount Everest, is in Nepal. This is undeniably the only region in the world to have such a high concentration of peaks over 7,000m in height. Let us look closely at the top 10 Himalayan peaks in India.
10. The Watershed Peak: Abi Gamin – 7, 355 m (24,131 ft)
Abi Gamin is found in the central Himalayan region towards the end of the Zanskar Range in the Chamoli District of Uttarakhand State. It is only
2 km from Mount Kamet and is close to the Tibet – India’s border.
It is also a part of the watershed region for the upper Alaknanda and Dhauli Rivers. The Kamet Peak which is slightly higher is also in the same region.
Abi Gamin was first surveyed by Richard Strachey in 1848. The first successful climb was done on August 22, 1950, by R. Dittert, A. Tissieres and G. Chevalley.
9. Astounding Glacier Zone: Ghent Kangri – 7401 m (24,281 ft)
Ghent Kangri is found at the northern end of the Saltoro Mountains, in the Karakoram Range, a sub-range of the Himalayas. It is found within the Siachen area of the disputed Kashmir region. The Siachen glacier, found in the eastern Karakoram Range of the Himalayas, is the second longest glacier in the world which is located in a non-polar area, and the longest in the Karakoram zone. The first successful climb was done in 1961 by Wolfgang Axt of Austria.
8. A Rough Climb: Saser Kangri IV – 7416 m (24,331 ft)
The Saser Kangri is actually a conglomeration of five main peaks. These are all called Saser Kangri except that Roman numerals are mainly used to make distinctions among them. They are located in the Saser Muztagh Range, a sub-range of Karakoram Range in the northwest region of the Himalayas.
The Saser Muztagh range is also seated within the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the most northerly state in India. An interesting peculiarity of the peaks of this range is their unexpected difficulty of ascent, especially on their western slopes. Although expeditions were conducted from as early as 1909, it was not until 1973 that team members of the Indo – Tibetan Border Police succeeded in reaching the peak. Even so, their approach was from the southeast. The first successful climb using the western slopes was accomplished in 1987 by an Indian – British team.
7. The Square: Kangri III – 7, 495 m (24,983 ft)
This summit was first conquered by an Indian – Tibetan Police team in 1986, using an approach from the eastern slopes. Legendary climbers reported that this mountain was quite enormous and took the form of a square. Two pinnacles of similar altitude are said to rest at both top ends of the square.
6. A Long Stretch: Mamostong Kangri Peak – 7, 516 m (24,659 ft)
Although the expanse of this peak stretches across the states of Jammu and Kashmir in India, it is also extended to Rimo Muztagh, a sub-range of the Karakoram range near the border of China. Mamostong is about 30 km southeast of the tip of the Siachen Glacier, the second longest glacier in the world, outside a polar region. Mamostong Kangri has not experienced many climbs as other peaks for two main reasons. Firstly, it is in a remote and relatively isolated region. In the second instance, the border conflicts between India and Pakistan in this area have severely curtailed the number of climbing expeditions in recent years. Nonetheless, an Indo-Japanese unit made the first successful ascent in 1984.
5. Lookout Peak: Saser Kangri II – 7, 518 m (25,060 ft)
The Saser Kangri II is actually a combination of two adjacent peaks: the Saser Kangri East (7, 518m) and the Saser Kangri West, the lower of the two, which has a height of 7, 000m. Though these two peaks have not experienced many ascensions as other peaks, an Indo – Japanese team made it to the summit of the west peak in 1984. On the other hand, the Kangri II East was first climbed by the team of M. Richey, S. Swenson and F. Wilkinson only as recent as August 24, 2011. Until then it was the second highest unclimbed apex in the world, after Gangkhar Puensum, the highest Himalayan peak in Bhutan (7, 570 m). The Himalayan Journal dubs this range as the Look Out Peak because it gives a splendid view of the rocky and icy cirque.
4. Crown of the Group: Saser Kangri I – 7672 m 25,573 ft)
This is the highest of the five Saser Kangri peaks and is the 35th highest peak in the world. Research shows that the summit of this range is engulfed in the clouds. Among its first climbers were Nima Tenzing, Da Tenzing, Dawa Norbu and Thondup.
3. The Obscure Mount: Kamet – 7, 756 m (25,853 ft)
The third highest peak in India is found in the Garhwal Himalayas in the Chamoli District of Uttarakhand. The Kamet mountain peak lies in an obscure location, but surprisingly, it has not been a difficult mountain to climb. The first successful ascension was accomplished in 1931 by the British expedition team of L. Sherpa, F. Smythe, R. L. Holdsworth and E. Shipton.
2. The Great Nanda Devi – 7, 816 m (26,053 ft)
Like the Kamet, this massif is located in the Chamoli District in the Garhwal Himalayas of the state of Uttarakhand. It held the status of being the highest mountain in India until 1975 when the state of Sikkim (in which the Kangchenjunga is located) joined the union.
1. The Royal Kanchenjunga – 8, 586 m (28,620 ft)
This mount is currently number one in India and the third highest peak in the world, second only to K2 and Mount Everest. The first ascent was done by the British team of Joe Brown and George Band in 1955.
The Himalayan chain of mountains is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest treasures and India is blessed to house a huge part of this range.