The mountain range Gangdise Shan lies between the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) and the Tibetan high plateau, the Chang Tang. It stretches about 2000 km in east-west direction and covers about 200 km in south-north direction. Due to the location of the mountain range 'behind' the Himalayan Range - separated by the Tsangpo valley - it is also known as "Transhimalaya". Towards the South the Gangdise Shan exhibits steep slopes, while it levels off rather gradually towards the north. Towards the east it extends as a separate range, the Nyenchen Tanglha Range.
Tectonics of the Gangdise Shan
Sven Hedin was the first western explorere to in detail describe the mountain range and its function as a water shed between the Indus and Tsangpo rivers and northern Tibet. He has published reports about his journeys (1905 to 1908) across the Gangdise Shan in three volumes called 'Transhimalaya'. After publication of these first detail about a yet unknown region of high interest, the Gangdise Shan was named "Hedin Range" in the western world - this name can still be found on some maps produced in the first half of the 20th century, but it was never systematically adopted.
The Gangdise Shan is characterized by volcanic activities, some of which have already started 100 million years ago. Thus, The Gangdise Shan in geological terms is older than the Himalayan Range. While there are no more active volcanoes anymore in the Gangdise Shan, there still are several hot springs and even geysers.
The most well known mountain of the range is Mount Kailash
(Kang Rimpoche, 6714 m), the sacred mountain. The highest peak in the Gangdise Shan is 7095 m high Loinbo Kangri
. Apart from that, there are numerous 6000m+ peaks in the Gangdise Shan.
|Mountains of volcanic origin
|Frozen sweetwater lake at 5200 m altitude
Wildlife and Vegetation
Frozen river in winter
The Gangdise Shan is a mountain range in high alpine region. Even the Yarlung Tsangpo valley to the south of the range is over 4000 m high, the entire mountain range lies over 4500 m. The vegetation therefore is very sparse Alpine grasslands and alpine meadows. Over 6000m, there is only snow and ice.
Despite its high altitude and harsh climate, the Gandise Shan is rich in wildlife:
The numerous lakes are visited by birds, such as bar-headed goose and other water birds. The biggest bird of prey is the Lämmergeier, a huge vulture.
If you are lucky you can also spot some Tibetan antelopes or some Tibetan wild ass in the grasslands. Several small mammals, such as pikas, hares, and fox can also be observed.
The alpine grasslands are used as pastures by the sheep, goat and yaks of the local nomads.