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The Indian Center Physical Features

Physical Features

The Country
India occupies a strategic position in Asia, looking across the seas to Arabia and Africa on the west and to Burma, Malaysia and the Indonesian Archipelago on the east. Geographi- cally, the Himalayan ranges keeps India apart from the rest of Asia.

India lies to the north of the equator between 8' 4' and 37° 6' north latitude and 68° 7' and 97° 25' east longitude. It is bounded on the south west by the Arabian Sea and on the south east by the Bay of Bengal. On the north, north east and north west lie the Himalayan ranges. Kanyakumari constitutes the southern tip of the Indian peninsula where it gets narrower and narrower, loses itself into the Indian Ocean.

India measures 3214 km from north to south and 2933 km from east to west with a total land area of 3,287,263 sq km. It has a land frontier of 15,200 km and a coastline of 7516.5 km. Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea are parts of India.

India shares its political borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan on the west and Bangladesh and Burma on the east. The northern boundary is made up of the Sinkiang province of China, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. India is seperated from Sri Lanka by a narrow channel of sea formed by the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar.

Physiographic regions
The mainland comprises seven regions. (1) Northern Mountains including the Himalayas and the North Eastern mountain ranges, (2) The Indo Gangetic plain, (3) The Desert, (4) Central highlands and Peninsular plateau, (5) East Coast, (6) West Coast, (7) Bordering seas and islands.

Mountain ranges They are seven.

The Himalayas, the Patkai and other ranges bordering India in the north and north east, the Vindhyas, which separate the Indo Gangetic plain from the Deccan Plateau, the Satpura, the Aravalli, the Sahyadri, which covers the eastern fringe of the West Coast plains and the Eastern Ghats, irregularly scattered on the East Coast and forming the boundary of the East Coast plains.

Himalayas, the highest mountain system in the world, is also one of the world's youngest mountain ranges. It extends practically uninterrupted for a distance of some 2500 km and covers an area of about 500,000 sq km. It contains the world's highest mountain peak, Everest and some ten peaks rising above 7,500 m. It appears to have risen as a result of a collision between the drifting Indian (peninsular) plate and the Tibetan plate of South Asia about 50 million years ago. The Himalayas reached their present heights much later.

Patkai and allied mountain ranges run along the Indo-Bangladesh-Burma border and may collectively be called Purvachalor eastern moun-tains. These ranges forming an arc must have come into existence along with the Himalayas.

Aravalli range in north-western India is one of the oldest mountain systems in the world. The present Aravalli range is only a remnant of the gigantic system that existed in prehistoric times with several of its sum mits rising above the snow line and nourishing glaciers of stupendous magnitude which in turn fed many great rivers.

Vindhyan range traverses nearly the whole width of Peninsular India a distance of about 1050 km with an average elevation of some 300 metres. The Vindhyan range appears to have been formed by the weathered products of the ancient Aravalli ranges.

Satpura range, another ancient mountain system, extends for a distance of 900 km with many of its peaks rising above 1000 metres. It is triangular in shape, with its apex at Ratnapuri and two sides running parallel to the Narmada and Tapti rivers.

Sahyadri, or Western Ghats, with an average height of 1200 metres, is about 1600 km long and runs along the western border of the Deccan Plateau, from the mouth of the river Tapti to Kanyakumari, the southern most point of India. It overlooks the Arabian Sea, and catches the full force of the monsoon winds, thus precipitating heavy rains on the West Coast.

Eastern Ghats, bordering the East Coast of India, is cut up by the powerful rivers into discontinuous blocks of mountains. In its northern parts between the Godavari and Mahanadi rivers it rises to above 1000 metres.

The Desert region can be divided into two parts-the great desert and the little desert. The great desert extends from the edge of the Rann of Kachchh beyond the Rajasthan-Sind Frontierruns through this. The little desert extends from the Luni between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur up to northern wastes.

There are mainly three water-sheds. Himalayan range with its Karakoram branch in the north, Vindhyan and Satpura ranges in Central India, and Sahyadri or Western Chats on the West Coast. All the major rivers of India originate in one or the other of these watersheds.

The main rivers of the Himalayan group are the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. These rivers are both snow-fed and rain-fed and have therefore continuous flow throughout the year. Himalayan rivers discharge about 70% of their inflow into the sea. This includes about 5% from central Indian rivers. They join the Ganga and drain into the Bay of Bengal.

The Indus, which the Aryans called the Sindhu, has lent its name to India. Its valleys on both sides have been the seat of a civilization. This historic river has five major tributaries the Jhelum, the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej. These in turn have inspired the name Punjab (punj = five & ab = river), the Land of Five Rivers. The Indus rises from Mount Kailas in Tibet and traverses many miles through the Himalayas before it is joined by its tributaries in the Punjab. Thereafter it passes into Sind (Pakistan) to fall into the Arabian Sea.

The Ganga, famous alike in legend and history, is considered the most sacred river by the Hindus. It covers, what is called the heartland of India, which was the main centre of the ancient Aryan culture. It rises near the glacier, Gangotri in the Himalayas and flows through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal to fall into the Bay of Bengal. Gangaand its tributaries Jamuna, Gornti, Garga, Sarda, Gandak, Chambal, Son and Kosi, spread out like a fan in the plain of India thus forming the largest river basin in India, with an area, one quarter of the total area of India.

The Brahmaputra rising in western Tibet, flows for some 1300 km through the Himalayas, then turns south-west and then south, joining the easternmost branch of the Ganga the Padma and empties together with Ganga into the Bay of Bengal. The rivers of Deccan denuding their beds for long geological ages have developed flat valleys with low gradients. The major Deccan rivers are the Godavari, the Krishna, the Cauvery, the Pennar, the Mahanadi, the Damodar, the Sharavati, the Netravati, the Bharatapuzha, the Periyar, the Pamba, the Narmada and the Tapti. These rivers are entirely rain-fed with the result that many of them shrink into rivulets during the hot season. The Deccan rivers contribute about 30% of the total outflow in India. Of this, the rivers that flow from west to east account for 20% and those from east to west about 10%.

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