Geography of India

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Geographical Structure

India is a country of great geographical extent. It streches from the snow-capped Himalayas in the north to Sun drenched coastal vilages of the south, the humid tropical forests on the south-west coast, the fertile Brahmaputra valley on its East to the Thar desert in the West. Lying entirely in the Northern hemisphere, the mainland extends between 8o4' and 37o6' North latitudes, longitudes 68o7' and 97o25' East and measures about 3214 km between North and South extreme latitudes and about 2933 km between East and West extreme longitudes. India is the seventh largest country of the world. It's area is about 32,87,263 sq. km.

India is endowed with almost all the important topographical features, such as high mountains, extensive plateaus, and wide plains traversed by mighty rivers. The country is bounded by Himalayas in the North and has a large peninsular region tapering towards the Indian Ocean. The Himalayas in the north are the major mountain ranges of the world. The other prominent mountains of India include the Aravallis, the Vindhyachals, the Satpuras, the Eastern Ghats, and the Western Ghats. The mountains are the primary source of rivers which derive their flow from rainfall and snow and glacier melt. The plateaus are another striking feature of topography in India and they range in elevation from 300 to 900 m.

Physiography of India

The Indian main-land can be divided into five physiographic units.
(i) The Great Himalayas of North
(ii) The Great Plain of North India
(iii) The Peninsular Plateau
(iv) The Coastal Plains
(v) The Islands

The Great Himalayas of North

The Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu-Kush range of mountains extend from Namcha Barwa in the east to the borders of Afghanistan in the west. The pressure of the impinging plates could only be relieved by thrusting skyward, contorting the collision zone, and forming the jagged Himalayan peaks.

The Trans Himalayas

These ranges have been formed even before the formation of Himalayas. These are especially found in the Western part of Himalayas. It includes the Karakoram, Ladakh, Zaanskar ranges etc. Mt K2 or Mt Godwin Austin (8611 m) is the highest peak of India, situated in the Karakorsm Range. Moreover, Trans-Himalaya is separated from the Great HImalaya by the Suture Zone. The Himalaya extends from Nanga Parbat in the West to Namcha Barwa or Mishmi Hills in the East. There are two syntaxial bends like Hair-Pin Turns.

The Greater Himalayas or The Higher Himalayas

This is the highest range of Himalayas. The average height of this range is 6000m where its width is 120-190 km. Most of the world's important peaks are located in this range. Major peaks are Mt. Everest (8852 m), Kanchenjunga (8558 m). Mt Nanga Parbat, Nanda Devi, Kamet and Namcha Barwa. The highest peak of the world is Mt Everest is located in this range (in Nepal).

Morepver, the Greater Himalayas are separated from the Lesser Himalayas by the main Central thrust.

The Lesser Himalayas or The Lower Himalayas

The average height of this range is 3700 - 4500 m and its average width is 80-100 km. This range includes the peaks such as Pir Panjal, Dhauladhar, Mussorie, Nag Tibba and Mahabharat. The Lesser Himalaya is famous for its scenic and healthy hill stations, e.g. Shimla, Kullu-Manali, Mussoorie, and Darjeeling etc. Moreover, the Lesser Himalayas are separated from the Shiwaliks by the main boundary fault.

Shiwaliks (the Outer Himalayas or the Sub- Himalayas)

This range is 10-50 km wide and 900-1200 m high. Unlike above two ranges, this range is not continuous. This is the most recent part of Himalayas. Between Shiwalik and Himachal, rhere are several valleys, e.g., Kathmandu Valley. In the western side, these valleys are called as Duns or Duars, e.g., Dehradun and Haridwar. Since, these valleys have fertle soils, they are dedensely populated. The lower parts of Shiwalik are called Terai. It is a marshy area covered with thick forest covers. To the South of the Terai region is found the Great Boundary fault, which extends from Kashmir to Assam.

The Eastern Hills

These highlands consists of hillranges which passes through Eastern Arunachal Pradesh and states having common border with Myanmar (Burma). In the North, lies a high mountainous land called Dapha Bum. The Patkai Bum starts from the Southern end of the Dapha Bum. After running for some distance along the Indo-Burma boundary. It merges into Naga Range. Saramati is the highest peak of the Naga Range.

The Great Planes Of North India

It is also called the Indus-Brahmaputra plain. It extendsfor a distance of about 3200 km and its width varies from 150 km to 300 km. The Great plains of North India were formed in the Pleistocene and Holocene periods of the Neozoic or Quaternary era. This is the most recent geographycal unit of India. These plains have been formed by the process of Tethys Sea becoming narrower and shallower and by the deposition of sediments brought by the peninsular rivers. These plains are almost featureless and attains a maximum height of 204 m. The land around Ambala acts as the water divide in this plain, because the rivers on its Eastern side drain into the Bay of Bengal and those on its Western side drain into the Arabian Sea.

The Peninsular Plateau

Covering an area of about 16 lakh sq km, the peninsular uplands form the largest physiological divisions of India. It is a part of the ancient Gondwanaland and is in triangular shape. With a general elevation between 600-900 m the region constitute an irregular. Triangle with its base lying between Delhi Ridge in the West and Rajmahal Hills in the East, with a part of its Northern portion buried under the alluvillium of Ganga and Yamuna. It is bounded by the Aravallis in the North-West, Hazaribagh and Rajmahal in the North-East, The Western Ghats in the West and Eastern Ghats in the East.

The Coastal Plains

The Indian Peninsular Plateau is fringed with narrow Coastal Plains. Eastern coastal Plains runs from Tamil Nadu to Paschim Banga(West Bengal) in the East. Western Coastal Plains extends from Gujarat in the west to Maharashtra, Goa and Kerala. Eastern Coastal Plains lies between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal and is more extensive and wide than its Western counterpart. They represent an emergent coast, while it's Western counterpart is an example of submergant coast.

The Northern circas, amidst Krishna river and Mahanadi river is the Northern Part of Eastern coastal plains. While the Southern part, the Coromondel coast, runs between Cauveri river and Krishna river. Utkal plains include Mahanadi delta and Chilika lake. Andhra plains extends from South of Utkal plain and continue upto Pulicat lake. Tamil Nadu plain extends from Pulikat lake to Kanyakumari.

The Western Coastal plain lies between Kerala and Gujarat and streches from the Arabian sea to the Western Ghats. These plains feature plentiful rivers and backward which result in forming estuaries. The Gulf of Kutch and the gulf of Kambat lie on the Northern part. The Western Coastal plain is separated into three major parts the Malabar coast, the Konkan coast and the Gujarat coast.

The Islands

The islands of India constitue Andaman and Nicobar Group of islands (Bay of Bengal), Lkshadweep islands (Arabian Sea), Riverine and off-Shore islands. Majuli, the world's lagest river island, is present in Jorhat distric, Brahmaputra river Assam.

Andaman and Nicobar Group of Islands are thought to be part of Himalayan system and extension of the Arakan Yoma Range. The Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands are separated by the 10oN latitude. The tribes of the Andaman group of islands includes the great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas and Sentinatese, all of Negrito origin, while the tribes of Nicobars are the Nicobarese and Shompens, both of Mongoloid stock

The Arabian Sea Islands constitutes Amindivi group Islands consisting of Amini,Keltan, Chetlat, Kadamat, Bitra and Perumal Par and the Laccadive group islands (comprising mainly Bdorth, Kalpeni, Kavaretti, Pitti, and Suheli Par).

Minicoy island, the largest of the Arabian sea group of islands and Southern most of the Union Territory of Lakshdweep, is separated from the rest by 9o Channel. Lakshdweep islands are of coral origin, which have been developed around volcanic peaks

Seasons in India

Winter Season

This season starts by late November representing clear skires, fine weather, light Northerly winds, low humidity and temperatures and large daytime variation of temperature. The cold air mass extending from the Siberian region, has profound influence on the Indian sub-continent during three months. The mean air temperatures usually increase from North to South. The mean temperatures vary from 14oC to 27oC during January. The rains during this season generally occur over the Western Himalayas, the extreme North-Eastern parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Western disturbances and associated through in Westeries are main bearing system in Northern and Eastern parts of the country.

Summer Season

The temperature start to increase all over the country in March snd by April, the interior parts of the Peninsular record mean daily temperature of 30-35oC. Centrsl Indian land mass becomes hot with daytime maximum temperature reaching about 40oC at many locations. Many places in Gujarat, North Maharashtra, Rajasthan and North Madhya Pradesh exhibit high daytime and low night-time temperatures during this season. Maximum temperature rise sharply exceeding 45oC by the end of May and early June resulting in harsh summers in the North and North-West regions of the country. However, weather remains mild in coastal areas of the country owing to the influence of the land and sea breezes.


Monsoon, derived from mausim is nothing but the seasonal reversal of wind. In winter, for six months wind blows from land to sea and in summuer, for six months it blows from sea to lands. The Indian agriculture is considered a gamble against monsoon because agricultural activities over almost all the parts of India are very much dependent upon the monsoon rainfall. In fact, monsoon is the axis around which the Indian economy revolves. The nature of the monsoon winds can be descrbed with reference to the surface distribution of pressure in different regions of India during winter and summer season.

Winter Monsoon

During winter, the weather conditions are generally influenced by the high pressure area developed over North-Western part of subcontinent. This results in the blowing of cold dry winds from these regions towards Southern low pressure areas lying over water bodies surrounding peinsular India.

Summer Monsoon

During summer, the North-Western parts of India become very hot due to very high temperature. This is ascribed to the apparent shift of the sun in Northern hemisphere. This results in the reversal of pressure conditions not only in the north-Western India, but also on water bodies surrounding the peninsular.

Natural Vegetation

India is a land of great variety of natural vegetation. Himalayan heights are marked with temperate vegetation; the western Ghats and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have tropical rain forests; the deltaic regions have tropical forests and mangroves; the desert and semi-desert areas of Rajasthan are known for Cacti, a whole variety of bushes and thorny vegetation. The total geographical area of India is 3287263 sq. km of which about 675500 sq. km equal to 22.50% is under forests.

Forest Cover In India

i)Very Dense Forest.: All lands with tree cover of canopy density of 70% and above. It spreads over 2.54% of the geographical area in India.

ii) Moderately Dense Forest.: All lands with tree canopy density between 10-40%. It covers 8.75% of total geographical area.

iii)Scrub-Degraded Forest.: Lands with canopy density less than 10%.

iv) Non-Forest.: Any area not included in the above classes and has 77.67% of total geographical area in the country.

Indian Soils

India is primarily an agricultural country. The succes of agriculture dependes upon the fertility of soils. Indian soils have been used for cultivation for hundreds of years and have lost much of thier fertility. As such, there is urgent need of giving scientific treatment to our soils.

The Indian soils have been formed under varied geographical conditions and differ widely in their physical properties, chemical composition and fertility level. Most soils are old and mature. Soils of the Peninsular plateau are much older than the soils of the Northern Plains. Indian soils are largely deficient in nitrogen, mineral salts, humus and other organic materials. Plains and valleys have thick layers of soils while hilly and plateau areas depict thin soil cover. Some soils like alluvial and black soils are fertile while some other soils lack in fertility and do not yeild good harvest. Indian climate is characterised by seasonal rainfall and our soils need irrigation during the dry period. Indian soils suffer from soil erosion and other allied problem.