The most characteristic features of the Himalayas are their soaring heights, steep-sided jagged peaks, valley and alpine glaciers often of stupendous size, topography (the arrangement of both natural and artificial elements) deeply cut by erosion, seemingly unfathomable river gorges and complex geologic structure, Viewed from the south, the Himalayas appear as a gigantic crescent with the main axis rising above the snow line, where there are snowfields, alpine glaciers, and avalanches that flow into the Himalayan rivers.

The Himalayas have a profound effect on the climate of the Indian subcontinent. They prevent frigid, dry winds from blowing south into the subcontinent, which keeps South Asia much warmer than temperate regions in the other continents. It also forms a barrier for the monsoon winds, keeping them from traveling northwards, and causing heavy rainfall in the Terai region. The Himalayas are also believed to play an important part in the formation of Central Asian deserts, such as the Taklamakan and Gobi.

Most of the fruit orchards of the Himalayas lie in the Vale of Kashmir and in the Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh. Fruits such as apples, peaches, pears, and cherries—for which there is a great demand in the cities of India—are grown extensively. On the shores of Dal Lake in Kashmir, there are rich vineyards that produce grapes used to make wine and brandy. On the hills surrounding the Vale of Kashmir grow walnut and almond trees. Bhutan also has fruit orchards and exports oranges to India. Where there is less rain at the higher pointing of the mountains range is the west, the rainforests give way to tropical deciduous (trees that shed their leaves annually, usually in autumn) forests, where the valuable timber tree sal is the dominant species. Wet sal forests thrive on high plateaus at elevations of about 3,000 feet (900 metres), while dry sal forests prevail higher up, at 4,500 feet (1,400 metres).

Common animals, which are seen mostly in the different parts of the Himalayas, are snow leopards, blue sheep, musk deer, tigers, elephants, wild boar, and crocodiles. Even endangered species of animals and plants are also found there. In the north part of the Himalayas where the temperature falls below freezing point, animals cannot survive well. However, those who adapted can survive. During the cold winters most of the animals migrate to the lower regions of the Himalayas while others like the brown bear hibernate instead. The Yak is mostly seen in the cold desert. They are like wild ox and they are the largest animals in this region. The Himalayan Blue Sheep is a goat-antelope found in the high hill of Himalaya mountains. The wild Himalayan sheep has a bluish-grey coat and round backward-curving horns. Another one of the animals is the Masked Palm Civet (a nocturnal cat found in South Asia) is a species of civet mostly found at northern India. It is distinguished from other Indian Civets by its white whiskers and by absence of any trace. The little creature has very long tail and fur is orange-brown to gray with no spots and stripes. It is a nocturnal solitary predator, during the day it stays and sleeps on trees and mostly eat fruits, in addition it eats squirrels, birds as well as insects.


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