The Himalayas are a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan plateau. The word Himalaya is derived from two Sanskrit words ‘hima’ meaning snow, and ‘alaya’ meaning home. Thus, Himalaya means ‘abode of snow’. The term was coined by the ancient pilgrims of India who were the first to explore this region. Sometimes the Himalayas are also called Himachal, Himadri, or Himavat, all of which mean ‘eternal snow’. The term Himalayan system loosely refers to the Himalayas and their neighbouring ranges, the Karakoram, Pamir, Hindukush, Tien Shan and Kun Lun, which extend out from the Pamir Knot. They have the unique feature of being the highest as well as the youngest mountain ranges in the world. Together they stretch across the following countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bhutan, China, Tibet, India, and Nepal.
The Himalayan range stretches uninterruptedly for 2900 km from west to east, between the Nanga Parbat (8,126 m) in the region of Jammu and Kashmir and the Namcha Barwa (7,755 m) in Tibet. The width varies from 400 km in the western Kashmir-Xinjiang region to 150 km in the eastern Tibet-Arunachal Pradesh region. This range includes some of the highest mountains in the world with over 100 peaks of elevations above 7200 m. One such peak is the Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world with a height of 8850 m.