Cultures and Religions of the Himalayan Region

Summer 2004

Kathleen Young
Bancroft School
Faculty - 7th Grade World Geography










• To familiarize students with the political, regional, and cultural boundaries of the Himalayan region. fieldprojects.html


• 3 1-hour class periods


• Students should take part in the lesson “What is A Mountain?” prior to this exercise.
• Students should be familiar with the region as a whole. A discussion of areas of dispute, such as Kashmir, would be helpful. A preview of areas, such as Jammu, Assam, Dolpo and Mustang would increase their interest. (See “Region Descriptions" below)


• Atlases throughout classroom. A highly recommended source is a classroom set of The State of the World Atlas, sixth edition (by Dan Smith) (Penguin Books Limited) (1999) (IBSN# 0-14-051446-5)
• 1 set of project directions per group – overall directions plus individualized tasks (see Big Map Project Directions)
• 1 overhead projector for every 4 students
• 1 large poster board or pre-cut sheet of paper per group
• 1 overhead map transparency per group (see Map of The Himalayan Region)
• 1 set of photocopied maps (see Himalayas - Map Packet) per group
• Pencils
• White out
• Black Sharpies
• Colored Pencils
• Clay for relief features
• Paper copies of overhead map for homework assignment


Maps provided by Himalaya: Life on the Edge of the World (by David Zurick and P.P. Karan) (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999) (ISBN#0-8018-6168-3) and Teacher Center for Global Studies at Clark University.


• Political boundaries- land boundaries that are decided upon by a government, governments, or world organizations.
• Regional boundaries-boundaries that demonstrate a broad geographical area distinguished by similar features (such as religion, language, climate, fauna, physical traits, resources…).
• Relief map- topographic depictions of relative positions and elevations.
• Submontane- at or near the foot of mountains.
• Midmontane- at or near the middle elevation of mountains map-india.htm


• Students will follow the project directions.
• Afterwards, students can discuss what was difficult and enjoyable about the process.

— What can we learn from the maps that were made?
— How do you think life might differ from the terai to the midmontane region?
— How might features differ from the midmontane to the Greater Himalayas?


The definition of the Himalaya from Webster's New Geographic Dictionary (1988): "A mountain system bordering the Indian subcontinent on the North is a 1500 mile long arc extending from Jammu and Kashmir in the west to Assam in the east and covering most of Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and the southern edge of Tibet. Separated from the Karakorum Range in the northwest by the Indus River and bounded on the north and east by the Brahmaputra River. Divided into three main regions: the greater Himalaya in the north, which includes Everest; the lesser Himalaya in the center; and the outer Himalaya in the south, including the Siwalik Range.


Nanda Devi – 7,816 m
Annapurna – 8,091 m
Everest – 8,848 m
Kanchenzonga – 8,598m airmanid.html

Region Descriptions:

Kashmir- a historical region of northwest India and northeast Pakistan. Conquered by the Mogul emperor Akbar in 1586, it later came under the control of Afghanistan (1757) and a Sikh empire (1819). After 1846, it was part of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Ownership is currently a source of violence and dispute between India and Pakistan.

Jammu- a city of northern India near the Pakistani border south of Srinagar. Formerly the seat of a Rajput dynasty, it was later captured by the Sikhs.

Assam- a former kingdom of extreme northeast India, now a state of India. It is separated from the rest of the country by Bangladesh. The kingdom was founded by invaders from Burma and China in the 13th century.

Dolpo- one of the highest inhabited areas of the Himalayas, lying between the Tibetan Plateau and the Dhaulagiri Himal range. It is referred to as the Bon Kingdom due to its strong ties to the pre-Buddhist religion of Bonpo. The route travels through forests and high valleys before reaching the mountain passes that rise towards the snow peaks of the Kanjiroba Himal, the Kagmara Lekh and the vast Tibetan plateau. This area overlooks the five peaks of Dhaualgiri.

the ancient and mysterious Kingdom of Lo. Owing to an old treaty between Nepal and China, Mustang was saved from being a part of the People's Republic when their forces invaded Tibet in 1959.

Sikkim - a region and former kingdom of northeast India in the eastern Himalayan Mountains between Nepal and Bhutan. Sikkim was settled by Tibetans in the 16th century and became a British protectorate in 1890. Sikkim passed to India in 1949 and became a state of that country in 1975.


• On hard copies of the same projected blank map, students should fill in political borders of countries, major cities, major rivers, mountains and regions.
• Students should read textbook chapters and answer questions on how the physical features affect the way of life in the Himalayas


Teachers may want to read Chapter 2 of the book, Himalaya: Life on the Edge of the World (by David Zurick and P.P. Karan) (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999) (ISBN#0-8018-6168-3) for background information on the mountain contours of this region.

To read a diary entry from a trekker who traveled from Upper Dolpo to Mustang, go to

For great pictures of Mustang, go to Mustang Valley 2002/01/23/15085.shtml

Mount Everest at Sunset



This site was created by Kathleen Young at the NEH Summer Institute "Cultures and Religions of the Himalayan Region," held at the College of the Holy Cross, Summer 2004