India is bounded by the Indian Ocean in the South, in the south-west by the Arabian Sea, in the south-east by the Bay of Bengal. Indian territorial waters extend into the sea to a distance of 12 nautical miles (22.2 km). Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia all are island countries to the south of India. Kanyakumari constitutes the southern tip of the Indian peninsula, which constricts bef0re ending in the Indian Ocean. The southernmost point of India is Indira Point in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Indira Point got submerged under the sea water in 2004 during the Tsunami.
PHYSICAL FEATURES OF INDIA
India comprises four well-marked physical divisions:
The Himalayan Range: The Himalayas, amongst the youngest fold mountains in the world, surround India on the north, north-west and north-east forming an arc. It is part of the Great Mountains of the north which run along the northern border of India has two parts-the Karakoram and the Himalayas Mountain. The Karakoram has a several ranges like Zaskar, Ladakh and Pir Panjal with mainly river Jhelurn flows in this region. The Himalayas has three important ranges=-Himadhri, Himaachal and Siwalik, about 2400 km in length and varying in width from 240 to 320 km.
(i) The Greater Himalayas (northern range, average roughly, 6000 m in height and contain three highest mountains on earth-Mount Everest (8848 meter), K2 or Mount Godwin Austin (8611 m) and Kanchenjunga (8598 m). Such high altitudes admit travel to a few passes only, significant passes are Shipki La [in Satluj valley--north-east of Kalpa (Kinnaur)] and Jelep La and Nathu La [on the main Indo-Tibet trade route through the Chumbi valley, north-east of Darjeling]. Greater Himalayas or Himadri, under perpetual snow, contains several glaciers which are sources of rivers like Ganges and Yamuna. The core point of this part of the Great Himalayas is composed of granite.
(ii) The Lesser Himalayas (averaging 1500 to 5000 m in height) or Himachal (averaging 1500 to 5000 m in height), are situated south of the Greater Himalayas, the average width of this region is 50 km. While the PirPanjal range forms the longest and the most important range, the Mahabharat ranges and the Dhaula Dhar are also renowned ones. This range consists of the well-known the Kangra, valley of Kashmir and Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Many resorts are situated on the southern sole of the mountain range. These ranges are mainly consists of highly compressed and altered rocks.
(iii) The Outer Himalayas (or the Southern Himalayas), (averaging between 900 m and 1200 m in height lie between the Lesser Himalayas and the Indo-Gangetic plains). These discontinuous ranges joins the Lesser Himalayas in the extreme east. The longitudinal valley lying between Lesser Himalaya and the Shiwaliks are known as Duns. Kotli Dun, Dehra Dun and Patli Dun are some of the well-known Duns. These ranges are composed of unconsolidated sediments brought down by rivers from the main Himalayan ranges located farther north side. These valleys are fully covered with thick gravel and alluvium.
- The Great Mountains of the North run along the northern border of India.
- They consist of Karakoram and the Himalayas. Karakoram has a number of ranges like-e-Zaskar, Ladakh and Pir Panjal. River Jhelum flows in this region.
- The Himalayas has 3 main ranges-Himadhri, Himachal and Shiwalik. The eastern extension of eastern Himalayas is called Porvanchal Mountains. Himadri has top high peaks of the world. Himachal has important hill stations of India and Shiwalik, the thick forests.
- Besides the longitudinal divisions, the Great Himalayas has been divided on the basis of regions from west to east. These all divisions have been separated and demarcated by valleys and rivers.
- There are regional names too in these broad categories.
- The part of Himalayas situated between Satluj and Indus has been traditionally known as Punjab Himalaya but regionally it is also known as Kashmir and Himachal Himalaya from west to east, respectively.
- The Kali and Tista rivers draw the boundaries to the Nepal Himalayas.
- The part of the Himalayas situated between Kali and Satluj rivers is known as Kumaon Himalayas.
- The part located between Tista and Dihang rivers is known as Assam Himalayas .
- The Brahmaputra marks the eastern most boundary of the Himalayan. Beyond the Dihang gorge, the Mountain bend sharply to the south and spread along the eastern boundary ofIndia. They are known as the Purvanchal or the Eastern hills and mountains.
- These hills running through the north-eastern states are mostly composed of strong sandstones which are sedimentary rocks. Enclosed with thick forests, they mostly run as parallel ranges and valleys .
- The Purvanchal comprises the the Manipur Hills, Naga Hills, Patkai Hills and the Mizo Hills.
The Northern Plains or the Indo-Gangetic Plains: One Formed by the valleys of the rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra, with a length of about 2400 km and width ranging between 240 krn to 320 km. These plains occupy one-third of India's land surface and form the most fertile region. According to terrain characteristics, this plain consist of 2 parts:
(a) The upland plains which lies above the flood level is made up of alluvial soil. It is one of the most fertile areas in the world.
(b) The low lands which are liable to inundation during floods.
- The Great plains comprises of levelled land to the south of the Great Mountains of the North made up of fertile allvium soil. It comprises of Gangaa Basin, the Indus Basin and Brahmaputra Basin. River Indus and its tributaries-Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rise beyond the Himalayas. The tributaries of River Ganga either rise in the Himalayas or in the Peninsular Plateau. Yamuna, Gandak, Ghaghara, Kosi and Tista rise in the Himalayas. Chambal, Sindh, Betwa, Son, Ken and Damodar rise in the Peninsular Plateau. Brahmaputra river rises beyond the Himalayas.
The Deccan Plateau: Lying south of the northern plains, the plateau is flanked by mountain ranges called the Eastern and Western Ghats. It is geographically the oldest region of India, with rocks which are 3000 to 5000 million years old. The highest Deccan peaks reach over 2500 m which include the Nilgiri Hills.
Coastal Plains: The northern portion of the western coastal plain is called the Konkan and the southern portion is called the Malabar coast. The eastern coastal strip is known as the Coromandel Coast.
The Aravallis and the Deccan Mountains
(a) The Aravallis: The oldest mountain range in India. The highest peak in this range is Guru Shikhar at Mount Abu, 1722 rn raised, lying near the border with Gujarat.
- The Great Plateau of Peninsular India is located to the south of the Great Plains made up of hard igneous rocks. It has 2 parts: the Malwa Plateau in the north which slopes towards north and Deccan Plateau in the south side. To the north-west of the Malwa Plateau lies the Great Indian Desert, a region of inland made up of rocks and sand. The Deccan Plateau is located to the South of River Narmada. It is enclosed by Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats. They are old mountains. Western Ghats are formed by four major hills which run parallel to the Arabian Coast. The Eastern Ghats are low and discontinuous. They are near to the Bay of Bengal Coast region. There are many rivers in the Plateau which flow either into Arabian Sea or Bay of Bengal. The Western Coastal plains which is a narrow strip is divided into Konkan Coast and Malabar Coast. It has estuaris and lagoons. The eastern coastal plains is wider and is divided into Northern Circas and Coromandal Coast. It possesses fertile deltas.
(b) The Vindhya Range: Separate the southern part of India from the north part. Extending 1050 km, the average elevation of these hills is 3000 m.
(c) The Satpura Range: Lies between the rivers Narmada and Tapti. It extends to 900 km with many peaks rising above 1000 m. It runs parallel to the Vindhya Range, which located to the north and these two east-west ranges divide the Indo-Gangetic plain from the Deccan Plateau located north of River Narmada.
(d) Western Ghats: Run along the western edge of India's Deccan Plateau and separate it from a narrow coastal plain along the Arabian Sea. The range runs roughly 1600 km and average elevation is about 915 to 1220 m.
(e) Eastern Ghats: Though not as tall as the Western Ghats, some of its peaks are over 1000 m in height. Average elevation is about 610 m. The Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu lies at the junction of the Eastern and Western Ghats.