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Mother India
Geography

India the seventh largest country in the world is well marked off from the rest of Asia by mountains and the sea, which gives the country a distinct geographical entity. It covers an area of 32,87,2631 sq.km. Lying entirely in the northern hemisphere the mainland extends measures 3214 km from north south between extreme latitudes and about 2933 km from east to west between extreme longitudes. It has a land frontier of about 15200 km.

The country lies between 8º4' and 37º6' north of the Equator and is surrounded by the Bay of Bengal in the east, the Arabian Sea in the west and the Indian Ocean to the south. The total length of the coastline of the mainland, Lakshwadeep group of islands and Andaman and Nicobar group of islands is 7,516.5 km.

Also, in the east lies Bangladesh. In the north west Afghanistan and Pakistan border India.TheGulf of Mannar and the Palk Straits separate India from Sri Lanka. The Andaman and Nicobar island in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshwadeep in the Arabian sea are parts of the territory of India.There are as many as 200 islands in Andaman alone, extending for 350km.There are 19 island in Nicobar group.

The Arabian sea consists of the Lakshadweep group. They are formed on a coral deposit off the Kerala coast .The southern most of this lies just to the north of the Maldives island which is an independent territory.

The Indian sub-continent is characterised by great diversity in its physical features. It may be divided into following physical units:

Physical Features:

Himalayan Mountain

The Himalayas and the associated mountains arcs gridling the sub-continent on the stretch in a consistent north west- south east direction for about 2400 km between the gorges of the Indus and the Tsango-Bhramaputra. The section between the Indus and the Sutlej and the Kali is termed as Kumaon Himalayas. The other two sections between the Kali and the Tista and between the latter river and the Dihangare described as the Nepal and the Assam Himalayas.

Kanchanjunga (8598 Mtrs) is the highest mountain peak in India. The Greater Himalayas which have an average altitude of 6000 m have within them almost all the prominent peaks such the Everest (8848m), Kanchenjunga (8598m) Nanga Parbat (8126m), Nanda devi (7817m) and Namcha parbat (7756m).

The Indus-Ganga-Brahmaputra Plain

The great plain of India is formed by the Indus, ganga and the Brahmaputra rivers. the plain extends for 3200 km between the mouths of the Ganga and the Indus, all along the foot of the mountain rim, with a width varying from 150 to 300 km. The longitudinal extent from the banks of the Ravi and the Sutlej to the ganga delta alone is of 2400km. The plain is narrowest in Assam and broadens towards the west. It is 160 km wide near the Rajmahal Hills and 280 km near Allahabad. The plains are alluvial in nature.

Peninsular Plateau

Rising from the alluvial plains of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, south of the Yamuna Ganga line, the great Indian plateau extends towards the south to encompass the whole of Peninsula. With a general elevation of 600-900m, the plateau makes an irregular triangle with its concave base lying between Delhi ridge and Rajmahal hills and the Apex formed by Kanya Kumari. The outlying projections of the peninsular plateau presented by the Aravallis, Rajmahal and Shillong hills convey some idea of its original northerly limits.

The location of another fragment of the peninsular block in the Shillong plateau gives the indication of the possible connection. The Shillong Plateau a highly dissected and jungly tract descends in a deep slope towards the Surma valley. The northern outliers are represented by the Mikir and the Rengma hills.

Western ghats

The topography of the Deccan and the Karnataka Plateau is dominated by the Western Ghats, which stretch uninterruptedly to the southern tip of Peninsula. They have a general altitude of 900-1100 m but occasionally raise upto 1600 m or even more. Near Goa the highly dissected relief of the lava rocks is replaced by smoothly rounded hills of Granite and Gnesis.In this stretch the ghats dip but rise once again in the Nilgiris. Further south the continuity of the ghats is distributed by the Palghat gap and the Shencottah gap. The Cardamom Hills may be regarded as the continuation of the Western ghats.

Eastern Ghats

The eastern Ghats are generally less impressive than the Western Ghats and form a discontinuous crest on the eastern periphery of the plateau. They are represented by an irregular line of hills, such as the Nallamalais, Velikondas, Palkondas and the Pachaimalais. These hills are often referred to as the northern hills in the northern sector, Cuddapah ranges in the middle and the Tamil Nadu hills in the south.

The Coastal Plains and the Islands

The plateau is flanked by coastal plains of varied width extending from Kutch to Orissa. There are striking difference between the eastern and the western coastal plains; with notable exception of Gujarat the west coast has narrow alluvial margin interspersed by hilly terrain .It has indentation except in the south where the beautiful Lagoons introduce an element of diversity.

The eastern coast on the other hand has a wide plain with well-developed deltas of the major rivers. The climatic transition between the south west monsoon regime of the north and the north -east monsoon regime of the south has given rise to interesting differences in the alluvial features in the two different stretches of the east coastal plain.


River System of India:

The rivers may be classified as follows:

The Himalayan

The Deccan

The Coastal

The rivers of the inland drainage basin


The Himalayan Rivers

The Himalayan rivers are generally snow-fed and flow throughout the year. During the monsoon months (June to September), the Himalayas receive very heavy rainfall and the rivers carry the maximum amount of water, causing frequent floods.

The Deccan Rivers

The Deccan rivers are generally rain-fed and, therefore, fluctuate greatly in volume. A very large number of them are non-perennial.

The Coastal Rivers

The coastal rivers, especially on the west coast, are short and have limited catchment areas. Most of these are non-perennial as well. The rivers on the inland drainage basin are few and ephemeral.

The Rivers of the Inland Drainage Basin

They drain towards individual basins or salt lakes like the Sambhar or are lost in the sands, having no outlet to the sea.

Others Geographical Facts:

Climate

India has 'Tropical Monsoon' type of climate. The word monsoon has been derived from the Arabic word 'Mausim' which means seasonal reversal of the winds during the course of the year.

Factors Affecting the Climate of India:


1. Latitude: India lies between 8 0 N and 37 0 N latitudes. The Tropic of Cancer passes through the middle of India, thus making the southern half of India in the Torrid Zone and the northern half in the Temperature Zone.

2. Himalaya Mountains: The Himalayas play an important role in lending a sub-tropical touch to the climate of India. The lofty Himalaya Mountains form a barrier which affects the climate of India. It prevents the cold winds of north Asia from blowing into India, thus protecting it from severely cold winters. It also traps the Monsoon winds, forcing them to shed their moisture within the sub-continent.

3. Altitude: Temperature decreases with height. Places in the mountains are cooler than places on the plains.

4. Distance from the sea: With a long coastline, large coastal areas have an equable climate. Areas in the interior of India are far away from the moderating influence of the sea. Such areas have extremes of climate.

5. Geographical Limits:

i. Western Disturbances: The low pressure systems that originate over the eastern Mediterranean region in winter and move eastwards towards India passing over Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan are responsible for the winter rain in northern India.

ii. Conditions in the Regions Surrounding India: Temperature and pressure conditions in East Africa, Iran, Central Asia and Tibet determine the strength of the monsoons and the occasional dry spells. For example, high temperatures in East Africa may draw the monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean into that region thus, causing a dry spell.

iii. Conditions over the Ocean: The weather conditions over the Indian ocean and the China Sea may be responsible for typhoons which often affect the east coast of India.

iv. Jet Streams: Air currents in the upper layers of the atmosphere known as jet steams could determine the arrival of the monsoons and departure of the monsoons. The Scientists are studying the jet streams and how it may affect the climate of India but much remains to be learned about this phenomena.


Seasons:

The climate of India may be described as tropical monsoon. Even northern India, lying beyond the tropical zone, acquires a tropical touch marked by the relatively high temperatures. The large size of the country and its varied relief play a crucial role in determining the climatic variations in different part of India. But the seasonal rhythm of the monsoon is apparent throughout India. It may conveniently from the basis for dividing the year into different seasons. The most characteristic feature of the monsoon is the complete reversal of winds. It eventually leads to the alternation of seasons. India is known as the "land of the endless growing season".

The year is divided into four seasons:


The Cold Weather Season: (N.E. Monsoons) The Cold weather seasons starts in January. The north-east monsoon is fully established over India this seasons. the mean January day temperature in Chennai and Calicut is about 24-25 degree C while in the northern plains it is about 10-15 degree C. In December, the sunshine’s directly over the Trophic of Capricorn. The landmass of Asia, including the sub-continent, cools down very rapidly. There is a high pressure over the continent. The Indian Ocean, being warmer, has a relatively low pressure.

N.E.Trade Winds (prevailing winds in the tropical Latitudes), blow, land to sea. These winds, being off shore do not give rain. In this season western disturbances bring light rainfall, most beneficial to the rabi crop in N.W. India. This rainfall decreases towards the east and the south. The Peninsular region of India however does not have any well-defined cold weather season. There is hardly any seasonal change in the distribution pattern of the temperature in coastal areas because of moderating influence of sea and the proximity to equator.


The Hot Weather Season: From mid-March to May the sun moves over the Equator towards tropic of Cancer. By June 21, it is directly overhead the Trophic of Cancer. In March, the highest day temperatures of about 38 degree C occur in the Deccan Plateau. Therefore,

a. Peninsular India, places south of Satpuras experience temperature between 26-32 degree C.

b. Central India, comprising of Delhi and Madhya Pradesh experience temperature between 40-45 degree C.

c. North-West India, comprising mainly of Rajasthan has very high temperature (45 degree C), due also to features like sandy soil, direct insulation and lack of cloud cover.


The South-West Monsoon Season: This season begins in June and lasts until September. The low pressure which existed over Northern Plain is further intensified. It is strong enough to attract the moisture bearing winds from the Indian Ocean.

The S.E Trade Winds from the Southern Hemisphere are drawn into India as the S.W. Monsoon Winds after they cross the Equator. Due to the triangular shape of India, the S.W.Monsoon Winds are divided into branches - the Arabian Sea Branch and the Bay of Bengal Branch.

The Arabian Sea Branch: It gives very heavy rainfall, more than 200 cm, to the windward side of Western Ghats. The Deccan Plateau, which lies on the leeward side of the Western Ghats, receives less than 150 cm of rainfall. Further east, rainfall decreases for e.g., Hyderabad gets less than 100 cm while Chennai gets even less than 40 cm of rainfall. It does not give much rain to Rajasthan because of Aravali Ranges lie parallel to the direction of winds and hence condensation does not occur. Therefore, Rajasthan gets less than 25 cm rainfall. These winds advance northwards, attracted to the low pressure in India. Punjab at the foothill of the Shivalik, get Relief Rainfall.

Bay of Bengal Branch: The Bay of Bengal Branch which also blows from the southwest direction is deflected by the Arakhan Mountains of Myanmar and the N.E. Hills of India (Garo, Khasi and Jaintia) towards genetic plain. The delta of Ganga-Brahmaputra and the wind-ward side of the N.E. Hills of India get heavy rain. For example, Cherrapunji on the windward side gets 2500 cm of rainfall, while Shillong on the leeward slope gets about 250 cm. The rainfall decreases as the winds reach the eastern Himalayas and blow westward into the Ganga Plain, attracted by the low pressure in Punjab and Rajasthan.


The Retreating of S.W. Monsoon Season: This season lasts through October to December. The temperature in the Northern Plains begins to decrease as the Sun's rays no longer fall directly at the Tropic of Cancer. In September, the Sun shines directly at the Equator. The low pressure over the Northern Plain is no longer strong enough to attract the Monsoon Winds into the heart of India. By the end of September, the Monsoon winds are drawn only upto Punjab, by mid-October upto the Central India and by the early November upto Southern India. Thus, the S.W. Monsoon winds seem to withdraw in stages during this season. That is why this season is known as Retreating S.W. Monsoon season.

This season is marked by cyclones in the Bay of Bengal. They hit the east coast of India and Bangladesh causing widespread damage to life, property and crops.


Natural Vegetation

The Himalayan region, which is rich in vegetative life, possesses varieties that can be found practically from the tropical to tundra regions. Only the altitude influences the distribution of vegetation. In the rest of the country, the type of vegetation is largely determined by the amount of rainfall. Outside the Himalayan region, the country can be divided into three major vegetation regions: the tropical wet evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, the tropical deciduous forests, and the thorn forests and shrubs.

Vegetation of the Assam region in the east is luxuriant with evergreen forests, occasional thick clumps of bamboo and tall grasses. The Gangetic plain is largely under cultivation. The Deccan tableland supports vegetation from scrub to mixed deciduous forests. The Malabar region is rich in forest vegetation. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have evergreen, mangrove, beach and diluvial forests. Much of the country's flora originated three million years ago and are unique to the sub-continent.


Population

The population of India crossed the billion mark at the turn of the millennium. The mammoth census of 2001 is in the process of being compiled. In 1996, the population was 945 million with 73% in rural areas. In terms of population, India is the world's second-largest country, after China. 16% of the world's population lives in India. The average population density is 320 per sq km (in 1996), though it reaches 6,888 per sq km in the larger cities. In July 2003 it was 1,049,700,118 (est.).

Languages

India, according to a recent census has 1,652 dialects. Needless to say that most of them are only spoken dialects. The principal languages with rich literary heritage are: - Assamese, Bengali, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.

Natural resources

Coal (Fourth-largest reserves in the world), Iron ore, Manganese, Mica, Bauxite, Titanium ore, Chromite, Natural gas, Diamonds, Petroleum, Limestone, Arable land.


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