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Geography (Optional) Mind Map Notes + Related Current Affairs

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  1. INSTRUCTIONS & SAMPLES

    How to use, Sources & Abbreviations
  2. [Paper 1] Continental drift & plate tectonics
  3. [Paper 2] Physiographic regions of India
  4. PAPER I - PRINCIPLES OF GEOGRAPHY
    Geomorphology
    14 Submodules
  5. Climatology
    17 Submodules
  6. Oceanography
    14 Submodules
  7. Biogeography
    11 Submodules
  8. Environmental Geography
    10 Submodules
  9. Perspectives in Human Geography
    7 Submodules
  10. Economic Geography
    10 Submodules
  11. Population and Settlement Geography
    5 Submodules
  12. Regional Planning
    9 Submodules
  13. Models, Theories and Laws in Human Geography
    7 Submodules
  14. PAPER II - GEOGRAPHY OF INDIA
    Physical Setting
    10 Submodules
  15. Resources
    7 Submodules
  16. Agriculture
    17 Submodules
  17. Industry
    8 Submodules
  18. Transport, Communication, and Trade
    8 Submodules
  19. Cultural Setting
    14 Submodules
  20. Settlements
    9 Submodules
  21. Regional Development and Planning
    13 Submodules
  22. Political Aspects
    8 Submodules
  23. Contemporary Issues: Ecological issues
    20 Submodules
  24. RELATED CURRENT AFFAIRS
    Related current affairs

India, known for its diverse landscapes and geographical features, is divided into six major physiographic divisions based on physical homogeneity. Among these divisions, the Himalayan and northeastern mountain region holds a special place due to its towering peaks, rugged terrain, and strategic significance. This article provides a detailed exploration of the physiographic regions of India, focusing on the Himalayas, its subdivisions, and the significance of this majestic mountain range for the country.

I. Physiographic Regions: Homogeneity in Relief Features

Physiographic regions refer to areas that exhibit homogeneity in physical characteristics, including geological structure and major landforms. These regions are vital for understanding and categorizing the diverse landscapes present in a country. In India, six major physiographic divisions have been identified: the Himalayan and northeastern mountain region, the northern plains, the Indian desert, Peninsular India, the coastal plains, and the islands.

II. Physiography of the Himalayas: India’s Northern Frontier

The Himalayan region forms the northern boundary of India and acts as a natural border between India and Tibet. The Himalayas, a series of parallel and converging mountain ranges, are young and structurally fold mountains. Stretching over the northern borders of India, they constitute one of the most rugged and loftiest mountain barriers in the world. The Himalayas extend in a west-east direction from the Indus to the Brahmaputra, covering a distance of approximately 2,400 km with varying widths.

Characteristics of the Himalayas:

  1. Altitudinal Variations: The eastern part of the Himalayas exhibits greater altitudinal variations compared to the western part.
  2. Slope Variations: The southern slopes of the Himalayas have steep gradients, while the northern slopes have comparatively gentler slopes.
  3. Subdivisions: The Himalayas can be divided into five types of ranges based on their geographical features: Pir Panjal Range, Ladakh Range, Zanskar Range, Dhaula Dhar Range, and East Karakoram Range.

Subdivisions of the Himalayas:

  1. Pir Panjal Range: Located in the southern part of the Himalayas, the Pir Panjal Range extends from Gulmarg in the northwest region to the Banihal Pass, encompassing significant passes such as Pir Panjal Pass, Banihal Pass, and Sinthan Pass.
  2. Ladakh Range: Situated at the northern side of Leh, the Ladakh Range connects with the Kailash range of Tibet and includes notable passes like Kardung La Pass and Digar La Pass.
  3. Zanskar Range: Positioned in the northern parts of the Himalayas, the Zanskar Range stretches from Lamayuru in the west, traversing through Lahaul, Spiti, and Kinnaur. It comprises passes such as Fotu La Pass, Singge La Pass, and Rubrang La Pass.
  4. Dhaula Dhar Range: Found south of the Pir Panjal Range, the Dhaula Dhar Range is characterized by snow-tipped mountains and gives rise to valleys like Beas, Ravi, Chenab, and Tawi.
  5. East Karakoram Range: This range is vast and separates India from Central Asia. It serves as a connecting link between Leh, Yarkand, and Kashgar.

Division of the Himalayas:

  1. Shiwaliks or Outer Himalayas: Extending from Arunachal Pradesh to West Bengal and Uttarakhand to Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir, the Shiwaliks are named after their resemblance to Lord Shiva’s tresses. These hills reach an average height of 1500m to 2000m and are composed of conglomerates, sand, stone, silt, gravel, and debris.
  1. Lesser or Middle Himalayas: Located between the Shiwaliks in the south and the Greater Himalayas in the north, the Lesser Himalayas, also known as the Himachal or Lower Himalaya, run parallel to both ranges. They have steep, bare southern slopes and more gentle, forest-covered northern slopes.
  2. The Greater Himalayas: Also referred to as the Inner Himalaya or the Central Himalaya (Himadri), the Greater Himalayas boast an average elevation of 6,100 m above sea level and are formed mainly of central crystallines such as granites and gneisses. This range features asymmetrical folds with steep south slopes and gentle north slopes, hosting some of the world’s tallest peaks.
  3. The Trans-Himalayas/Tibetan Himalayas: Situated immediately north of the Great Himalayan range, the Trans-Himalayas, also known as the Tibetan Himalaya, stretch for about 1,000 km in an east-west direction. The main ranges within this region include the Zaskar, Ladakh, Kailas, and Karakoram ranges, with an average elevation of 3000 m above mean sea level.
  4. The Eastern Hills/Purvanchal: Serving as a chain of hills in Northeast India, the Eastern Hills or Purvanchal are situated beyond the Dihang gorge, where the Himalayas bend sharply towards the south. This region comprises various hill ranges, such as the Mishmi hills, Patkai Bum Range, Naga Hills, Manipur Hills, and Mizo Hills (Lushai Hills).

Significance of the Himalayas for India:

  1. Strategic Significance: The Himalayas act as a natural frontier, providing India with strategic advantages and serving as a natural border with neighboring countries such as China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
  2. Climatic Significance: The Himalayas play a crucial role in shaping India’s climate. They prevent the further northward movement of the summer monsoon and restrict the entry of cold northern winds from Siberia into the Indian subcontinent.
  3. Physical Significance: The glaciers in the Himalayas feed the perennial rivers of North India. As these rivers erode the mountain ranges, they deposit alluvial soils, which are highly productive for agriculture.
  4. Agricultural Significance: The sediment deposited by Himalayan rivers forms the fertile agricultural grounds known as the Northern plains, which are essential for India’s agricultural productivity.
  5. Economic Significance: The Himalayas hold immense economic value for India. They provide a vast hydroelectric power potential, serve as a source of timber and medicinal plants, and offer river sediments rich in minerals and building materials.
  6. Tourism: The Himalayas attract tourists from around the world due to their ecological biodiversity, natural landscapes, hill stations, cultural diversity, and religious and mythological significance.

III. Physiography of the Northern Plains: A Product of Himalayan Sediments

The Northern Plains of India owe their existence to the accumulation of alluvial soil deposited by the Himalayan drainage system. Stretching over 2,400 km in length and 240 to 320 km in width, this vast region covers an area of 7 lakh square km. The presence of abundant water and favorable climate supports a dense population in this region. The gentle slope and reduced water velocity in the rivers have led to the formation of riverine islands, such as Majuli Island in the Brahmaputra River, which happens to be the largest river island in the world.

Divisions of the Northern Plains:

The Northern Plains can be further categorized into three parts based on the river systems that shape them:

  1. Punjab Plains: Situated in the northwestern part, the Punjab Plains are predominantly formed by the Indus River and its tributaries.
  2. Gangetic Plain: Extending across the central part, the Gangetic Plain is shaped by the Ganga, Ghaghra, Teesta rivers, and their tributaries.
  3. Brahmaputra or Assam Plains: Located in the northeastern region, the Brahmaputra or Assam Plains are influenced by the Brahmaputra River.

Physiographic Divisions of the Northern Plains:

Considering the variation in relief features, the Northern Plains can be divided into four distinct regions:

  1. Bhabar: Running parallel to the southern side of the Shiwalik range, the Bhabar is a narrow belt, approximately 8 to 16 km wide. Here, the rivers disappear as they seep into the ground.
  2. Terai: South of the Bhabar belt, the Terai region marks the re-emergence of the rivers, creating a wet, swampy, and marshy landscape. This region is characterized by dense forests and is home to a variety of wildlife, including the Dudhwa National Park.
  3. Bhangar: Comprising the largest part of the Northern Plains, the Bhangar region consists of older alluvial soils deposited above the flood plains of the rivers. It features terrace-like formations and contains calcareous deposits known as Kankar.
  4. Khadar: The Khadar region consists of newer and younger deposits of flood plains. These deposits are replenished almost every year, making the land extremely fertile and ideal for intensive agriculture.

IV. Physiography of the Indian Desert: The Enigmatic Thar Desert

Located towards the west of the Aravali hills, the Indian Desert, popularly known as the Thar Desert, showcases undulating sand plains and is characterized by an arid climate with minimal vegetation cover. The region experiences rainfall below 15 cm or 150 mm, leading to the desert’s dry and barren nature. The Luni River is the only significant river in this region. Sand dunes dominate the landscape, with two prominent types: Barchan dunes, which have a crescent shape, and longitudinal dunes. Due to the scarcity of water, many streams disappear into the sandy terrain before reaching the sea.

V. Physiography of the Peninsular Plateau: A Land of Ancient Rocks

The Peninsular Plateau is a vast table-land composed of old crystalline, igneous, and metamorphic rocks. It is one of the oldest landmasses on Earth, resulting from the breaking and drifting of tectonic plates. The plateau is characterized by shallow valleys and rounded hills, presenting a distinctive terrain. The Central Highlands, lying north of the Narmada River, cover significant areas of the Malwa plateau. The Vindhya and Satpura ranges form the southern boundaries, while the Aravali range marks the northern boundary. The western part of the plateau features sandy and rocky deserts, while rivers such as Chambal, Sindh, Betwa, and Ken flow through the region. The plateau slopes from the southwest to the northeast, widening in the west and narrowing in the east. It extends further east to Bundelkhand, Baghelkhand, and the Chhota Nagpur plateau, which encompasses the Ranchi, Hazaribagh, and Koderma regions.

Deccan Plateau: The Southern Expanse

The Deccan Plateau lies south of the Narmada River and is bordered by the Satpura range in the north. It includes the Mahadev hills, Kaimur hills, and Maikal hills as its eastern extensions. The plateau is higher in the west and gently slopes eastward. One of the unique features of the Deccan Plateau is the fertile soil of volcanic origin found in the Deccan trap. The Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats mark its western and eastern boundaries, respectively. In the northeast, an extension of the plateau known as Meghalaya’s Karbi Anglong Plateaus is separated by a fault from the Chhota Nagpur plateau. Important hills such as Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia lie from west to east within this plateau.

Western Ghats: The Verdant Western Boundary

The Western Ghats, also known as the Sahyadri Mountains, are a prominent mountain range that runs parallel to the western coast of India. The average elevation ranges from approximately 900 to 1600 meters, with the highest peak being Anamudi at 2,637 meters. This mountain range is known for its stunning natural beauty and rich biodiversity. It serves as a crucial hotspot for numerous endemic species.

Eastern Ghats: The Eastern Front

The Eastern Ghats stretch from the Mahanadi Valley in the north to the Nilgiri hills in the south. This range has an average elevation of about 600 meters. Unlike the continuous Western Ghats, the Eastern Ghats are a discontinuous range with diverse landforms. The highest peak in this range is Mahendra Giri, standing at approximately 1501 meters. The Shevaroy and Javadi hills are located in the southeastern part of the Eastern Ghats. Ooty, also known as Udaga Mandalam, is a popular hill station situated within the Eastern Ghats.

VI. Physiography of Coastal Plains: The Meeting Points of Land and Sea

The Coastal Plains of India are narrow strips of land found along the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. These plains are the result of either the emergence or submergence of land due to geological processes such as upliftment, depositional activity, faulting, or rising sea levels. The Western Coastal Plains stretch from Gujarat’s Kachchh and Kathiyawar regions to Kerala. It is narrower compared to the eastern coastal plains and can be divided into three parts: Kathiyawad, Konkan, and Malabar Coast. The Eastern Coastal Plains, broader than their western counterparts, extend from the Gangetic delta in the north to Kanyakumari in the south. They can be divided into three parts: Utkal Coast, Andhra Coast, and Coromandel Coast.

The Significance of Coastal Plains: A Blend of Land and Sea

Coastal plains play a vital role in India’s economic and ecological landscape. They are essential for trade and port development, provide fertile soils for agriculture, and support rich mini landforms such as reefs, mangroves, lagoons, and estuaries. The coastal plains offer diverse opportunities for fishing and harbor numerous ports. The fertile soils in these regions make them suitable for cultivating various crops, contributing to the agricultural sector’s growth.

VII. Physiography of Islands: Gems of India’s Maritime Realm

India is blessed with two groups of islands: the Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. The Lakshadweep Islands comprise the Laccadive, Minicoy, and Amindivi Islands. They are situated close to the Malabar coast and are primarily made up of coral formations. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located to the east, with the Andaman Islands in the north and the Nicobar Islands in the south. The Andaman Islands are further divided into North Andaman, Middle Andaman, and South Andaman. These islands feature breathtaking natural beauty and are home to unique flora and fauna. Barren Islands, an island within the Andaman Sea, hosts the only active volcano in South Asia.

Strategic Importance and Challenges Faced by Islands

The islands hold significant strategic importance for India, serving as a watchtower for the Malacca Strait and providing control in the Indian Ocean. They also support trade, port development, and potential tourism. However, the islands face challenges such as rising sea levels, pollution, and erosion, which require sustainable management and conservation efforts.

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