"Himalaya" is a Sanskrit word which literally means "Abode of Snow" - from hima, "snow," and alaya, "abode" - a term coined by the ancient pilgrims of India who travelled in these mountains. For Tibetans, Indians, Nepalese, and many of the other inhabitants of the Himalayas, the mountains continue to be the predominant factor in their lives. The beauty of the Himalayas has lured visitors to this region since olden times. And being the world's highest mountain chain, it constitutes the greatest attraction to climbers and trekkers throughout the world. But more than anything else, the Himalayas represent the awe-inspiring power, beauty, and grandeur of Nature.
The Himalayas extend from west to east in a massive arc for about 2500 kilometers (1550 miles). Covering an astounding area of 612,021 sq. km, the vast mountain chain passes through the Indian States of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim and the Himalayan kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan . The Tibetan Plateau - the roof of the world - forms the borthern boundary of this magnificent mountain system while lower extensions of the Himalayas branch off from eastern and western frontiers of these mountains.
The Himalayas can be classified in a variety of ways. From south to north, the mountains can be grouped into four parallel, longitudinal mountain belts, each with its unique features and distinctive geological history.