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Indian Geography (Part - 2)
Physical Features of India
- Out of the total area of the country, about 10.6% is occupied by
mountains, 18.5% by hills, 27.7% by plateaus and 43.2% by the plains.
- India may be divided into four major physiographic regions, viz, 1. The
Northern Mountains, 2. The Great Plains, 3. The Peninsular Uplands, and 4.
The Indian Coasts and Islands.
I. The Northern Mountains
The region extends all along the northern frontier of the
country, for about 2500 km, with a varying width of 240 to 320 km and a
total area of about 5,00,000 km’.
Himalayas represent the youngest and the highest folded
mountains of the earth, rising to over 8000m above sea level and consisting
of three parallel ranges: (a) Himadri (Greater Himalaya), (b) Himachal
(Lesser Himalaya), and (c) the Siwaliks (Outer Himalayas).
The Vale of Kashmir, about 135 km long and 40 km broad,
is the only large level strip of land in the Himalayas.
In the Himalayas snow fields cover about 40,000 sq km of
area from Kashmir to Assam.
The height of snow line varies between 4000-5800m in the
east and 4500-6000m in the west.
The Himalayas are intersected by numerous valleys like
Kashmir valley, the Karewas, the Doon valley, the Kangra and Kullu valley
(Himachal Pradesh), Kathmandu valley (Nepal), Bhagirathi valley (near
Gangotri) and Mandakini valley (near Kedarnath).
The Himalayas may be conveniently divided into following
four parallel zones.
- The Tibetan Zone: This is about 40 km wide and consists of fossil
bearing marine sediments which are underlain by ‘tertiary granite’.
- The Greater Himalayan Zone: This zone rises abruptly like a wall
north of the Lesser Himalayas. It is about 25 km wide with average
height above 5000 m.
- The Lesser Himalayan Zone: It is about 80 km wide with average
height between 1300 to 5000m. It generally consists of unfossiliferous
sediments or metamorphosed crystal-lines, constituting the main nappe
zone in the Kashmir, Himachal and Garhwal sections.
- The sub-Himalayan Zone: This is a 8 to 45 km wide zone with average
height below 1300 m.
Peaks of India
Valleys and its locations
Divisions of the Himalayas
(a) The sub-Himalaya or Siwaliks
- The range has a total length of about 2400 km from the Indus gorge to
the Brahmaputra valley.
- It is known by various local names, i.e. the Jammu hills (Jammu &
Kashmir), the Dundwa range (Uttarakhand), the Churia Muria hills (Nepal),
the Daffla, Miri, Abor and Mishmi hills (Arunachal Pradesh).
- The gorges of the Tista and the Raidak have jointly formed a 90 km gap
in the Siwalik range.
- This is a 8 to 45 km wide zone with average height below 1300 m.
- The Siwalik Range forms the southern part of the zone and the
intervening area is generally occupied by the tectonic longitudinal valleys
called the Duns, viz., Dehra, Kotah, Path, Kothri, Chumbi and Kyarda.
Peaks and its locations
(b) The Lesser Himalaya or Himachal
- It is about 80 km wide with average height between 1300 to 5000 m.
- It generally consists of unfossiliferous sediments or metamorphosed
crystallines, constituting the main nappe zone in the Kashmir, Himachal and
- Important ranges include the Dhauladhar, Pirpanjal, Nag Tiba, Mahabharat
range and Mussoorie range. The famous hill resorts like Shimla, Chail,
Ranikhet, Chakrata, Mussoorie, Nainital, Almora and Darjeeling etc are
situated over this range.
- Along the slopes are found a number of small pastures which are called
merg in Kashmir (viz. Gulmerg, Sonmerg, Tanmerg) and Bugyal and Payar in
- The best known passes of the Pir Panjal range are the Pir Panjal Pass
(3480 m), the Bidil (4270m), Golabghar (9812m) and Banihal Pass (2835m). The
Jammu-Sri Nagar highway uses the Banihal Pass.
(c) The Greater Himalaya or Himadri
- This zone rises abruptly like a wall north of the Lesser Himalayas. It
is about 25 km wide with average height above 5000 m.
- The Himadri runs in an arc like shape in a length of 2500 km from Nanga
Parbat (8126 m) in the west to Namcha Barwa (7756 m) in the east.
- This is the northernmost or the innermost of all the Himalayan ranges.
- With an average elevation of 6100m above sea level and an average width
of about 25 km, this is the loftiest and the most continuous mountain range
of the world.
Passes of India
Himalayan pass between India and China
- It is about 150km away from the northern edge of the plains of Northern
- This mountain range boasts of the tallest peaks of the world, most of
which remain under perpetual snow.
- There are many peaks over 8000m in altitude. They are, in descending
order of altitude Mount Everest, also called Sagarmatha or Chomo Langma
(8848), Lhotse I (8501m , Mount Akalu (8481m), Kanchenjunga South Peak
(8474m), Kanchenjunga West Pea (8420m), Lhotsa Intermediate Peak (8410m) Cho
Oyu (8153m), Nanga Parbat (8126m) Annapurna (8078m), Gosainthan or Shisha
Pangma (8013m), Makalu South peak (8010m).
- Some of the important peaks between 7000 and 8000m elevation are Nanda
Devi (7817m), Kamet (7756m), Namcha Barwa (7756m), Gurla Mandhata (7728m),
Badri Nath (7138m), Trisul (7138m).
- The Burzil pass and Zoji La in Kashmir, Bara Lapcha La and Shipki La in
Himachal Pradesh, Thaga La, Niti Pass and Lipu Lekh Pass in Uttarakhand and
Nathu La, Jelep La in Sikkim are worthy of mention.
- The Hindustan - Tibet road connecting Shimla with Gartok in Western
Tibet passes through the Shipki La.
- Another important trade route connecting Kalimpong (near Darjeeling)
with Lhasa in Tibet however passes through Jelep La (4386m).
- The Himadri runs in an arc like shape in a length of 2500 km from Nanga
Parbat (8126 m) in the west to Namcha Barwa (7756 m) in the east.
The Trans Himalayas
- The Himalayan ranges immediately north of the Great Himalayan range are
called the trans Himalayas.
- This part of the Himalayan ranges is also called the Tibetan Himalayas
because most of it lies in Tibet.
- This is about 40 km wide and consists of fossil bearing marine sediments
which are underlain by ‘Tertiary granite’.
- The most important range of the Trans Himalayas is Karakoram range which
is called as the “backbone of high Asia”.
- The Zaskar, the Ladakh, the Kailas and the Karakoram are the main ranges
of the TransHimalayan system.
- It stretches for a distance of about 1000km in east-west direction and
its average elevation is 3000m above mean sea level.
- Satpura range from East to West: Amarkantak - Maikal - Manadeo -
Gawilgarn - Rajpipala
- Highest peak in Andaman and Nicobar islands - Saddle Peak
- The highest peak of Naga hills is Saramati peak.
- Hills in Southern Hill complex – Nilgiri, Annaomalai, Cardamom & Palani
- Hills in Eastern Ghats: Shevaroy, Javadi, Palkonda, Nallamalai, Northern
- Oblique ranges to Western Ghats in Maharashtra: Ajanta, Satmala
- Highest peak in E Ghats - Mahendragiri (Orissa)
- Highest peak in W Ghats – Anaimudi (Annamalai Hills - Kerala)
- Highest peak in Nilgiris - Doda Betta
- Highest Mt. Peak in India: K2 or Godwin Austin
- Highest peak in Aravalli: Gurushikhar (in Mt Abu)
- Highest peak in Satpura – Dhupgarh (Mahadeo Hills)
- The Zaskar range branches off from the great Himalayan range near 80°E
longitude and runs more or less parallel to it.
- The Nanga Parbat (8126m) forms its culmination in the northwest but the
adjoining Deosai Mountain may also be included in it.
- North of the Zaskar range and running parallel to it is the Ladakh
Range. The Rakaposhi. Haramosh ranges beyond the Indus may be treated as the
extension of the Ladakh range to the northwest. The Kailas range (Gangdise
in Chinese) in western Tibet is an offshoot of the Ladakh range. The highest
peak is Mount Kailas (6714m).
- The northern most range of the Trans Himalayan Ranges in India is the
Great Karakoram Range. Karakoram Range extends eastwards from the Pamir for
about 800km. It is the abode of some of the greatest glaciers of the world
outside the polar regions. Some of the peaks are more than 8000 metre above
- K2 (8611m) is the second highest peak in the world and the highest peak
in the Indian Union.
- The other peaks located in its neighbourhood and rising more than 8000m
above sea level are the Gasherbrum I or Hidden Peak (8068m), Broad Peak
(8047m) and Gasherbrum II (8035m).
- The Ladakh Plateau lies to the northeast of the Karakoram Range. With an
average elevation of over five thousand metres above sea level, it is the
highest plateau of the Indian Union.
- It has been dissected into a number of plains and mountains, the most
outstanding among them being soda Plains, Aksai Chin, Lingzi Tang, Depsang
Plains and Cang Chemmo.
The Eastern Hills or the Purvanchal
After crossing the Dihang gorge, the Himalayas take a
sudden southward turn and form a series of comparatively low hills running
in the shape of a crescent with its convex side pointing towards the west.
These hills are collectively called the Purvanchal because they are located
in the eastern part of India.
The hill ranges running in north-south direction along
the Burmese border and passing through Arunachal Pradesh (Tirap division),
Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram are collectively called Purvanchal. These are
known by various local names i.e. Patkai Bum (Arunachal Pradesh), Naga
hills, Kohima hills, Manipur hills, Mizo hills, Tripura hills and Barail
Extending from Arunachal Pradesh in the north to Mizoram
in the South, they form India’s boundary with Myanmar.
In the north is the Patkai Bum, which forms the
international boundary between Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar.
After running for some distance southwards, it merges
into Naga Hills where Saramati (3826m) is the highest peak.
South of Naga Hills are the Manipur hills, which are
generally less than 2500 metres in elevation.
The Barail range separates Naga Hills from Manipur Hills.
South of the Manipur Hills are the Mizo Hills, which have
an elevation of less than 1500 metres. The highest point is the Blue
Mountain (2157m) in the South.
Glaciers of the Himalayan Mountains
Longitudinal Divisions of the Himalayas
Longitudinally, the Himalayas can be divided into following sections:
- The Punjab Himalayas: The 560 km long stretch of the Himalayas between
the Indus and the Sutluj rivers is known as the Punjab Himalayas. A large
portion of this sector lies in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh as a
result of which it is also called the Kashmir and Himachal Himalaya.
Karakoram, Ladakh, Pir Panjal, Zaskar and Dhaula Dhar are the main ranges of
- Kumaon Himalayas: This section extends from Sutluj to Kali river valleys
and is said to have 360 lakes, such as Naini Tal and Bhim Tal. The
Pilgrimage centers (Badrinath, Gangotri) located in this section is of
particular importance to the Hindus.
- Nepal Himalayas: This section extends from Kali to Tista and has the
distinction of having some of the highest peaks in the world including Mt.
- Assam Himalayas: This section extends from Tista to Brahmaputra.
Pauhunri and Kulhakangari are noted peaks.
II. The Great Plains
- It is an aggradational plain formed by the alluvial deposits of the
Indus, Ganga and the Brahmaputra and their tributaries.
- The plain stretches from west (from the banks of the Ravi and Sutluj) to
east (the Ganga delta) to a lengh of 2400 km.
- It is about 90-100 km wide in Assam, 160 km near the Rajmahal Hills, 200
km in Bihar, 280 km near Allahabad and 500 km in PunjabRajasthan.
- The plain merges into the Thar Desert in the south-west. A low watershed
of the Delhi ridge (278 m) along the right bank of the Yamuna river
separates the Satluj plains (a part of the Indus plain) from the Ganga
- According to the recent studies, the average depth of the alluvium has
been estimated at about 1300-1400 m which goes on decreasing towards south
and finally merging with the irregular edge of the Peninsular block.
Divisions of the Great Plains
The Great Plains may be divided into a number of smaller
units on the basis of the characteristics of the alluvium, surface gradient,
drainage channels and regional traits.
Bhabar Plains: It lies all along the foot of the Siwaliks
with remarkable continuity from the Indus to the Tista. It is generally 8 to
16 km wide belt consisting of gravel and unassorted sediments deposited by
the Himalayan rivers in the foreland zone due to sudden break of slope. The
porosity is so high that all streams disappear in the Bhabar tract leaving
out only dry channels.
Terai Plains: South of the Bhabar lies a 15-30 km wide
marshy tract called terai where streams reappear to the surface. The Terai
is more marked in the eastern part than in the west due to higher amount of
rainfall. It is a zone of excessive dampness, thick forests, rich wild life
and malarial climate. ‘
Bangar or Bhangar Plains: The Bhangar represents the
uplands (alluvial terrace) formed by the deposition of the older alluvium
and lie above the flood-limit of the plains. The main constituent of Bhangar
is clay which at places gives way to loam and sandyloam.
Khadar Plains: The younger alluvium of the flood plains
of the numerous rivers is called the Khadar or Bet (in Punjab).
- Its alluvium is light coloured and poor it calcareous matter consisting
of deposits of sand, silt, mud and clay.
- Delta Plains: Deltaic plain is an extension of the Khadar plain.
It covers about 1.86 lakh sq km of area in the lower reaches of the Ganga,
river (West Bengal). It mainly consists of old mud, new mud and marsh.
On the basis of regional characteristics, the Great Plains may be divided
into following four meso regions:
The Rajasthan Plains: This include: Marusthali and
Rajasthan Bagar areas (Stepp lands) to the west of the Aravalli mountains A
part of the plain has also been formed by the recession of the sea as is
evidenced by the occurrence of several brackish water lakes in the region,
i.e. Sambhar, Degana Kuchaman, Pachpadra, Didwana and Lunkaransar Tal from
which table salt is obtained.
At present Luni is the only flowing river which reaches the sea. Most of the
Rajasthan Plains are covered by vast stretches of sand. Sand dunes cover a
large area, the southern and western parts have mostly longitudinal dunes
whereas in the eastern and southern parts, where the wind is strong,
barkhans and transverse dunes are common. The general slope of the Rajasthan
Plain is from east to the west towards the Indus river
The Punjab-Haryana Plains: The Punjab- Haryana
Plains owe their origin to the aggradational activity of the Satluj, the
Beas and the Ravi rivers.
The region has two regional slopes, westward towards the Indus river and
southwards the Rann of Kachchh. The south-eastern part of the plains
bordering the Rajasthan Plains (neat Hissar) is sandy and is characterized
by shifting sand dunes. On micro regional basis the Punjab-Haryana Plains
may be divided into (a) the Bari Doab (between the Beas and the Ravi), (b)
the Bist Doab (between the Beas and the Satluj), (c) the Malwa Plain
(occupying the central part of the region) and (d) the Haryana-Bhiwani Bagar
in the southern and south-eastern part of the region.
The Ganga Plains: The Ganga Plains extend from the
Yamuna river in the west to the western borders of Bangladesh covering a
distance of about 1,400 km and an average width of 300 km.
The maximum height is found near Saharanpur (276m) from where it goes on
decreasing towards the Sagar Islands (3 m).
- The Upper Ganga Plain: It occupies a total area of 1,49,029 sq km.
Besides the Ganga and the Yamuna, other important rivers of the region
include Ramganga, Gomati, Ghaghara and Rapti etc.
Upper Ganga Plains is divided into three micro units: (i) the
Ganga-Yamuna Doab (ii) the Rohilkhand Plain and (iii) the Avadh Plain.
- The Middle Ganga Plain: The Middle Ganga Plain includes eastern
Uttar Pradesh and the Bihar plains.
There are two large troughs, which may be called Gorakhpur trough and
RaxaulMotihari trough of over 8,000 m deep.
Besides Ganga, Gomati, Ghaghara, Rapti, Gandak, Kosi (in the north), and
Son (in the south) are other important rivers of the region.
The Kosi, called ‘Sorrow of Bihar’ has shifted its course over 120 km in
The Middle Ganga Plain can be broadly divided into two sub regions: (a)
the Ganga Plain North and (b) the Ganga Plain South. The former is
further divided into four micro units: (i) the Ganga Ghaghara Doab, (ii)
the Saryupar Plain (iii) the Mithila Plain and (iv) the Kosi Plain.
Similarly the Ganga Plain South is subdivided into (v) the Ganga-Son
Divide, (vi) the Magadh Plain, and (vii) the Anga Plain.
- The Lower Ganga Plain: The Lower Ganga Plain incorporating an area
of 80,968 sq km, extends from the foot of the Darjeeling Himalaya in the
north to the Bay of Bengal in the south.
The eastern part of the Plain is drained by the rivers (Kartoya, Tista,
Jaldhakia Torsa, Sankosh) joining the Brahmaputra, and the western part
by the tributaries (Mahananda, Purnabhaba, Ajay, Damodar, Dwarkeswar,
Rupnaryan) of Ganga (Padma-Bhagirathi).
4. The Brahmaputra Plains: The Brahmaputra Plains, also called as
Assam Valley, are the easternmost part of the Great Plains drained by the
Brahmaputra and its tributaries.
These plains from Sadiya (in the east) to Dhubri (near Bangladesh border in the
west) are about 720 km long and about 80 km wide covering a total area of about
56,274 sq km. The general altitude of the valley ranges from 130 m in the east
to 30m in the west (Sadiya 130m, Dibrugarh 105m, Sibsagar 97m, Jorhat 87m,
Tezpur 79m, Guwahati 55m, and Dhubri 34m) with an average slope of 12 cm per km.
Majuli (area 929 km2) is the largest river island in the world.
The Assam Valley is divided into two sub regions: (1) Upper Assam Valley and
(2) Lower Assam Valley. The Upper Assam Valley include the districts of
Lakhimpur and Sibsagar and Tezpur Tahsil of Darrang district. The Lower Assam
Valley consists of Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Kamrup, Nagaon and Darrang
III. The Peninsular Uplands
- Covering an area of 16 lakh sq km, the Peninsular Uplands form the
largest physiographic division of India.
- The fault in which the Narmada river flows divides the region into two
unequal parts; the smaller one in the north being known as the Central
- It is slightly tilted towards north. The southern part has been tilted
east with bold heights to the west. This area is popularly known as the
Deccan Plateau comprising the Satpuras, Western and Eastern Ghats and a
large number of plateaus.
- On the basis of its physiographic characteristics, the Peninsular Upland
may be divided into a number of sub-units. These include hill ranges like
the Aravallis, Vindhyas, Satpuras, Sahyadris, the Eastern Ghats, plateaus
like Chotanagpur, Meghalaya, Deccan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra,
Bundelkhand and fertile plains like Malwa, Chhattisgarh etc.
- The Aravalli which runs from north-east to south-west for about 800 km
between Delhi and Palanpur (Gujarat) represents a relict of one of the
world’s oldest fold mountain systems.
- The range becomes more continuous and rising to above 900 m in the
south. Its highest peak lies in Abu hills (Gurushikhar Peak 1722m).
The Malwa Plateau
- Malwa Plateau with a length of 530 km and a width of 390 km, occupies an
area of about 15,000 sq. km. It is bordered by the Aravallis in the north,
the Vindhyan range in the south and the Bundelkhand Plateau in the east.
- The region has two systems of drainage, one towards the Arabian Sea
(Narmada, Tapi and Mahi), and another towards the Bay of Bengal (Chambal and
Betwa joining the Yamuna).
- The Western Vindhyas is an escarpment which varies in character and
- The Western Satpuras separate the Narmada and the Tapi river basins.
- South-west of Pachmarhi is Dhupgarh (1350 m) which is the highest peak
of the Satpuras.
- Bundelkhand Uplands is bounded by the Yamuna river in the north, the
Vindhyan Plateau in the south, the Chambal in the northwest and
Panna-Ajaigarh ranges in the southeast.
- The region is characterized by ‘senile topography’.
- The streams like Betwa, Dhasan and Ken have carved out steep gorges.
- The Chhotanagpur Plateau is composed of Archaean granite and gneiss
rocks with patches of Dharwar rocks. The Dalma range marks the belt of
Archaean lava flows.
- Chhotanagpur consists of a series of plateau standing at different
levels of elevation; the highest general elevation of about 1100m in the
mid-western portion known as the Pat lands.
- Hazaribagh and Ranchi plateaus standing same general elevation (600m)
but separate by the Damodar trough.
- Chhotanagpur is drained in different directions by numerous rivers and
streams which the Damodar, Barakar, Subarnarekh North Koel, South Koel
rivers have developed extensive drainage basins.
- The Meghalaya-Mikir Uplands consisting of the Garo, Khasi, Jaintia and
the outlying Mikir and Rengma hills is a tableland which has been detached
from the Indian Peninsula by the Malda Gap.
- It is bordered by the Dhansiri river in the east and the Singimari in
- The Shillong peak (1961 m) is the highest peak of the area.
- Mikir Hills are detached from the Meghalaya Plateau and are surrounded
by plains on three of sides.
- The southern ranges known as the Rengma Hills have an average elevation
of 900m. The area is characterized by radial drainage with Dhansiri and
Jumna being the main rivers.
- The basaltic sheet has a thickness of more than 2,000 m and has been
formed by the consolidation of the lava that erupted subaerially about 60
to 65 million years ago.
- It is sometimes difficult to distinguish the Deccan Plateau from the
The Mahanadi Basin is also called Chhattisgarh Plain. The
Mahanadi with its tributaries like Seonath, Hasdo, Mand etc drain this area
and form the radial pattern. The area is characterized by red and yellow
soils which are suitable for rice cultivation.
The Chhattisgarh Plain is bordered by a series of hills
and plateaus. The northern boundary is formed by the Lormi plateau, Pendra
plateau, Chhuri hills and Raigarh hills. This area is largely formed by
ancient granites and gneisses with their characteristic rounded rolling
The Durg Uplands are rounded and rolling granitic and
gneissic areas. The southern rimland includes the Rajhara Hills in southern
Durg district and the Raipur Uplands in southeastern Raipur district
(300-500m). The Rajhara Hills contain Dharwarian rocks in which iron ore is
mined for Bhilai steel plant
- Its Abujhmar hills provide one of the richest iron-ore deposits at
- The region has an average elevation between 600-900m. Mulangiri (1923m)
is the highest peak (Baba Budan hills) followed by Kudremukh (1892m).
- The region has two small physiographic units:
- Telangana, and (ii) Rayalaseema Upland. The Telangana is a long belt
of peneplains mainly developed over the gneissic rocks. Its northern and
north-eastern margin is occupied by the Godavari valley which is
distinct due to its faulted structure.
- The Rayalaseema Upland is divided by the Penner.
- The Rayalaseema Plateau is a vast tableland forming northward extension
of the Karnataka Plateau.
- The Sahyadris or Western Ghats run parallel to the western coast for
about 1,600 km in north-south direction from the mouth of the Tapi river to
- These are block mountains formed due to the downwarping of a part of the
land into the Arabian Sea. Sahyadris form the real watershed of the
- In the Nilgiris, the Eastern Ghats join the Sahyadris to form a mountain
knot whose highest point is Doddabetta (2637 m).
The Eastern Ghats
- The Eastern Ghats form the eastern boundary of the Deccan Plateau.
- These are a series of detached hills of heterogeneous composition which
are called by various local names.
- Their average elevation is 1100 m. They depict true mountain
characteristics between the Mahanadi and Godavari.
- The predominant rocks are khondalites and charnokites.
- Between the river Krishna and Chennai they continue as the Kondavidu
hills mainly composed of quartzites and slates.
- The Nallamalai (900-1100 m height) and Palkonda hills are composed of
Cuddapah and Kurnool formations.
- The last stretch beyond Chennai is formed primarily of charnokites
together with gneiss, crystalline limestone, quartzites and mica-schits.
- The Nilgiris (Blue Mountains) provide the converging site for three
mountain ranges: the Sahyadri joining opposite of the Mukurti peak; the
southern Ghats across the Palghat in the south and the Eastern Ghats at the
The Vindhyan Range
- The Vindhyan Range extending from Jobat in Gujarat to Sasaram in Bihar
runs for about 1,050 kms.
- It is a relict mountain whose rock formations date back to the
- The Maikal range, forming a connecting link between the Vindhyas and the
Satpuras, is a large plateau.
- The Vindhyan range together with Satpura form the watershed of central
India from which rise the Narmada, Chambal, Betwa, Tons, Ken Son and other
rivers some of which flow into the Ganga and others into the Godavari and
The Satpura Range
Parallel to the Vindhyas between the valleys of the
Narmada in the north and that of the Tapi in the south, lies the Satpura
range which extends from Ratanpur in the west to Amarkantak in the east. It
has a total length of about 900 km and average height of 770 m. Structurally
the Satpura range has three parts. (i) Rajpipla hills (width 60 km) in the
western part with steep slopes. (ii) The Mahadeo hills system and pink
sandstones. (iii) The eastern part consisting of Maikal range is composed of
Gondwanas and Archaean gneisses.
IV. The Indian Coasts and Islands
- The Peninsular Uplands are flanked by coastal plains of varied width
extending from Kachchh to Orissa.
- With the notable exception of Gujarat the west coast has a narrow
alluvial margin interspersed by hilly terrain and characterized by more wet
- It is a submerged coast.
- The backwaters are the characteristic features of this coast.
- From Kachchh to Cape Comorin it has a total length of 1,840 km.
- The East Coast Plains are broader, associate with depositional activity
- It stretches about 1,800 km from Mahanadi mouth to Cape Comorin. It is a
coast of emergence in which the deltas of Mahanadi, the Godavari, the
Krishna, the Kaveri etc. are characteristic features of the coast.
Division of the Indian Coastal Plains
- Physiographically the Indian coastal plain may be sub-divided into
following three broad divisions: (a) Gujarat Coastal Plain, (b West Coastal
Plain, and (c) East Coastal Plain
Gujarat Coastal Plain: It is formed by the alluvial
deposits of the Sabarmati, Mahi and numerous tiny parallel consequent
streams whose process of formation is still continuing. The region
consists of major an( minor peninsulas, gulfs, islands, ranns, creeks
marshes, hills, plateaus etc.
West Coastal Plain: West Coastal Plain lies between
the Sahyadris and the Arabian Sea. It is mainly characterized by sandy
beaches, coastal sand dunes, mud flats, lagoons, alluvial tracts along
rivers, estuary, laterite platforms and residual hills. The West Coastal
Plain may be sub-divided into three main regions (i) the Konkan, (ii)
the Karnataka or Kanara, and (iii) the Kerala or Malabar. The Konkan
Coastal Plain consists of undulating lowlands. It is widest near Mumbai,
in ‘the amphitheatre-like basin of the Ulhas’.
- The Karnataka Coastal Plain depicts (i) a narrow belt of very recent
deposits, (ii) an erosion platform, (iii) inland belt of isolated hills of
- The Malabar Coast is narrower in the north and south and wider in the
c. East Coastal Plain: It lies between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of
Bengal and is more extensive and wide than its western counterpart. These
plains are formed by the alluvial fillings of the littoral zone comprising
some of the largest deltas of the world.
- The East Coastal Plains mainly consist of recent and tertiary alluviums.
- The region has a straight shoreline with well defined beaches of sand
- The most famous beach is the Marina Beach in Chennai.
- The Chilka lake in the south-west of the Mahanadi delta is the biggest
lake of our country.
The Indian Islands
- India has a total of 247 islands of which 204 lie in the Bay of Bengal
and remaining in the Arabian Sea.
- The Bay islands consisting of Andaman and Nicobar group of islands have
a crescents shape and denote the peaks of submerged Tertiary mountain ranges
- a continuation of the Arakan Yoma fold axis.
- The Arabian Sea islands have a coral origin and are surrounded by
- Besides there are a number of offshore islands along the Ganga-mouth,
eastern and western coasts and in the Gulf of Mannar.
(a) Arabian Sea Islands: The Arabian Sea islands comprise 36 islands
of Lakshadweep Group.
- Only 25% of the area is inhabited.
- The southern most island (Minicoy) is separated from the rest of the
group by the 9 degree channel.
- The northern most group is collectively known as Amindivi Islands.
- Similarly the central group is collectively called as Laccadive Islands.
- In the south the Lakshadweep is separated from Maldive Islands by Eight
(b) Bay of Bengal Islands: The Andaman and Nicobar group of islands are
separated from each other by the 10 degree Channel. The extreme southern most
point is Indira Point (Pygmalion Point or La Henching) at 6.7°N and 93.8°E.
- The Andaman Group of Islands include 204 islands. There are two volcanic
islands, e.g. Barren and Narcondam.
- The Nicobar Group of Islands comprises 18 islands. These are separated
from the Andaman group of islands through 10 degree Channel which represents
a fracture zone. Some of the Nicobar islands like Chowra, Car Nicobar and
Pulo Milo are essentially coral, while Katchall, Nancowry and Great Nicobar
are hilly as are the Andamans.
(c) Offshore Islands: India has a number of islands along the Western,
Eastern coasts. Among Western coast islands mention may be made of Piram,
Bhaisala (Kathiawar); Diu, Vaida, Nora (Kachchh coast); Aliabet (Narmada-Tapi
mouth); Elephanta, Salsette, (near Mumbai); Pamban, Crocodile (Gulf of Mannar);
Sri Harikota (mouth of Pulicat lake); Parikud (mouth of Chilka lake) and New
Moore and Sagar (Ganga delta).
Fact about Longest Coastline