Himalayas, Nepali Himalaya, great mountain system of Asia forming a barrier between the Plateau of Tibet to the north and the alluvial plains of the Indian subcontinent to the south. The Himalayas include the highest mountains in the world, with more than 110 peaks rising to elevations of 24,000 feet (7,300 meters) or more above sea level. One of those peaks is Mount Everest (Tibetan: Chomolungma; Chinese: Qomolangma Feng; Nepali: Sagarmatha), the world's highest, with an elevation of 29,035 feet (8,850 meters;
For thousands of years, the Himalayas have held a profound significance for the peoples of South Asia, as their literature, mythologies, and religions reflect. Since ancient times the vast glaciated heights have attracted the attention of the pilgrim mountaineers of India, who coined the Sanskrit name Himalaya-from hima ("snow") and alaya ("abode")-for that great mountain system. In contemporary times the Himalayas have offered the greatest attraction and the greatest challenge to mountaineers throughout the world.
The most characteristic features of the Himalayas are their soaring heights, steep-sided jagged peaks, valley and alpine glaciers often of stupendous size, topography deeply cut by erosion, seemingly unfathomable river gorges, complex geologic structure, and series of elevational belts (or zones) that display different ecological associations of flora, fauna, and climate
The north-facing slopes generally have a fairly thick soil cover, supporting dense forests at lower elevations and grasses higher up. The forest soils are dark brown in colour and silt loam in texture; they are ideally suited for growing fruit trees. The mountain meadow soils are well developed but vary in thickness and in their chemical properties.
The Himalayas, as a great climatic divide affecting large systems of air and water circulation, help determine meteorological conditions in the Indian subcontinent to the south and in the Central Asian highlands to the north. By virtue of its location and stupendous height, the Great Himalaya Range obstructs the passage of cold continental air from the north into India in winter..