No other mountain system in the world has affected the lives of the people and shaped the destiny of the nation, as the Himalayas. The Himalayas are actually called the body and soul of India. The Northern Mountains are important due to the following reasons.
1. Climatic Influence:
Due to their height, width and direction, these mountains intercept the summer monsoon winds coming from the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, and cause precipitation in the form of rain and snow. In the absence of these mountains, a major part of the Indian Subcontinent would have been a hot and dry desert.
These mountain ranges do not permit the extremely cold winds from Central Asia to enter this region. Their absence would have caused extremely cold winters.
2. Source of Rivers:
Enough rainfall and vast snow-fields in these mountains are the source of perennial rivers. The melting snow provides enough water during the dry season. The rivers and their numerous tributaries, coming from the Northern Mountains, form the basis of life in the Northern Plains of India.
3. Fertile Soils:
In the course of their flow, the rivers and their tributaries bring with them large amount of alluvium. When deposited, these sediments provide extremely fertile soil in the Northern Plains. Thus, it is said that the northern plains of India are the Gift of the Himalayas.
The rivers and their tributaries make several natural waterfalls in the Northern Mountains. These are the sites, where dams can be constructed across the river for producing hydroelectricity.
5. Forest Wealth:
The lower slopes of the Northern Mountains are thickly forested. Trees vary from tropical to the alpine types. These forests provide fuel, wood, timber and raw materials for various industries. Some parts have rich pastures and are widely used for grazing livestock.
The slopes of the mountains have been terraced to produce rice, maize, potatoes, vegetables and fruits. Tea plantations are extensively developed on the lower slopes, especially in the Eastern Himalayas.
7. Storehouse of Minerals:
Many parts in the Northern Mountains have rich reserves of minerals and fuel resources, such as petroleum, coal, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, silver, tungsten, limestone, etc.
A number of tourist spots have been developed all along the Northern Mountains. These places offer cool and comfortable climate to millions of tourists visiting from all over the world, especially during the summer season.
9. Effective Barrier:
The Northern Mountains have always acted as an effective barrier for the enemy. In spite of new developments in the warfare techniques, the significance of these mountains cannot be ignored altogether.
10. Religious Centres:
The Himalaya mountain ranges have always been considered as the abode of Gods and saints. Large numbers of shrines have developed in these mountains. Some of them are Amarnath, Vaishnodevi, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Jwalaji, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Uttarkashi, etc.