Some of the types of landforms under which India can be divided on the basis of major relief factors:
1. The Great Mountains of North
2. The Great Northern Plains of India
Image Courtesy : images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/eroded-landforms-sally-weigand.jpg
3. The Peninsular Plateau
4. The Coastal Plains
5. The Islands
I. The Great Mountains of North:
The northern mountains include the Himalayas, the Trans-Himalayan Ranges and Eastern Hills or Purvanchal. These extend from the plateau of Pamir to the frontiers of Myanmar for a distance of nearly 3,000 km. They are known for their snow covered peaks, big and small glaciers and deep gorges. Himalayas means the Abode of Snow. The Himalayas are young fold mountains and they are divided into three main ranges that run parallel to each other.
1. The Greater Himalayan or Himadri:
The innermost Himalayan range is the worlds highest, with an average height of about 6,000 m. There are several peaks exceeding 8000 metres in altitude. Mount Everest is the highest peak (8,848 metres), which is in Nepal. Kanchenjunga (8,598) and Nanga Parbat are Indian peaks in the greater Himalayan Range.
World’s Highest Peaks:
|Nepal||Mount Everest||8,848 m|
|Nepal, China||Chooyu||8,153 m|
|India||Nanga Parbat||8,126 m|
2. The Lesser or Middle Himalaya (The Himachal):
It lies to the south of Himadri with an average height of 5,000 metres above the sea level and ranging in width from 60 to 80 km. There are alternating ridges and valleys between the Himachal and Himadri ranges like Kashmir Valley, Kangra Valley, Kulu Valley and hill stations like Shimla, Mussoorie, Nainital and Darjeeling.
The Pir Panjal Range in Kashmir, Dhaula Dhar in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, and their continuation eastwards into Uttar Pradesh are part of Himachal Range. They are known as lesser Himalayas owing to its lower elevation.
3. The Outer Himalaya or the Siwaliks:
It is the southernmost range of the Himalayas forming the Himalayan foot hills. They consist of low ridges of less than 1500 metres altitude and width varying from 15 to 50 km. These Siwaliks are prominent in Western Himalayas as these ranges are made of relatively recent river sediments. The Siwaliks are known for its longitudinal valleys called the Duns. Dehradun is in this range, Patle in Uttar Pradesh and Kotli in Jammu are also Duns.
The Himalayas are divided into three regions from west to east. Western Himalayas includes the Himalayas in Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, the Central Himalayas cover the region in Uttar Pradesh and Nepal and Eastern Himalayas includes Sikkim, West Bengal, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh.
4. Trans-Himalayan Zone:
This includes the mountain ranges which lie beyond Inner Himalayas. The Karakoram range is the most prominent and extends from Pamir Knot to the north of India. This range has the K, (Godwin Austen) peak (861 lm), the second highest peak in the world. There are many snow- fields and glaciers in Karokoram Range. Siachen glacier, a bone of contention between India and Pakistan is the largest glacier. The Karakoram Range in Tibet is known as Kailash Range.
The Vindhya Range:
It stretches from Sasaram (Bihar) in east to Jobat (Gujarat) in West. It separates northern India from the southern mainland. The average elevation is 600 m and mostly composed of sandstones, quartzite’s, and shales.
The Satpura Range:
It extends from Narmada valley in north to Tapti in south. The average elevation is 1030 m, with the highest point at Dhupgarh (1350 m) near Pachmarhi.
It stretches from north east to southwest. It has a height of less than 400 m in northern stretch. The Gurusikhar Peak (1722 m) of Abu hills is the highest point of the range.
Significance of Himalaya:
(i) Owing to Himalaya, Indian subcontinent has monsoon climate.
(ii) They protect Indian Plains from the cold blizzards of central and north-east Asia.
(iii) Natural barrier between India and its neighbours such as China.
(iv) Ganga and Yamuna (big rivers of India) originate from it.
(v) Himalayas are rich in forest and animal resources and also the source of minerals such as copper, nickel and cobalt.
(vi) The scenic beauty of the valleys and hill stations provide great attraction for tourists.
II. The Peninsular Plateau:
To the south of Great Plains of northern India lies the old landmass of peninsular India which is made up of ancient igneous rocks. The Peninsular plateau is composed of two parts i.e. Malwa plateau and Deccan plateau. These two parts are separated by the Vindhya and Satpura Ranges. The Narmada River, flowing from east to west divides the Malwa plateau from Deccan.
The northern part of Malwa plateau is flanked by Aravalli in the west and Vindhyas in the south. The desert of Rajasthan is situated to the north-west of Malwa plateau. It is made up of rocks and sand. It is a region of inland drainage because rivers either disappear in the desert or drain into the salt lakes.
The western edge of the Deccan plateau is formed by Sahyadri, the Nilgiri, the Annamalai and the Cardamom hills and together they are known as Western Ghats. Anai Mudi in Kerala is the highest peak. The Western Ghats run parallel to the coast facing the Arabian Sea.
The eastern edge of plateau is called Eastern Ghats and consists of low and discontinuous hills. They slope towards the east. The Eastern and Western Ghats converge at Nilgiris. The peninsular hills are quite low and old and they do not have high peaks and glaciers like those on the Himalayas.
Anai Mudi, the highest peak of Deccan is only 2, 695 metres high. The north western part of the plateau is called the Deccan trap. It is made of volcanic rocks which are composed of lava flows. It occupies the whole of Maharashtra and parts of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The Great Plains:
Between the Himalayas and the Peninsular Plateau are found the Great Northern Plains that stretch in an east-west direction for about 2,400 km. One of the world’s largest aggradational terrains, they cover more than seven lakh sq.km and have a width ranging from less than 200 km (Bihar) to 500 km (Punjab and Rajasthan).
They are alluvial in nature and are composed of older alluvium (bhangar) or new alluvium (khadar or bet). The former is found in areas which are away from river channels and the latter is found along river banks.
These plains are drained by Sutlej and Beas, Sutlej Plain in west, the Ganga Plain in the middle, the Ganga delta and Brahmaputra valley in the east. These are among the largest plains of the world. These are uniformly level plains without any interruption except for few outliers of the Aravalli Range. These continue to the west beyond the Punjab and Rajasthan and merge into Indus plain in the Pakistan.
III. The Coastal Plain:
The Deccan plateau is flanked by narrow coastal plains in the east and west. The western coastal plains lies between Western Ghats and Arabian Sea, its northern part is called Konkan and southern part is known as Malabar. Similarly, the eastern coastal plain lies between the Bay of Bengal and Eastern Ghats. Its southern part is called the Coromondal coast and the northern part of eastern coast is called Northern Circars and this part lies in West Bengal and Orissa.
The Islands are large land areas completely surrounded by water, but not large enough to be called a continent. The Indian islands in the Bay of Bengal consist of the Andaman and Nicobar groups, (some of these are volcanic in origin).
India has in all 247 islands out of which 204 lie in Bay of Bengal. Of these 9 are in Nicobar and 185 in Andaman. The only active volcano of India is located in the Andaman on the Barren Island. The Islands in Arabian Sea are known as Lakshadweep islands. They are 42 in number and are of coral origin, surrounded by fringing reef.
- The Main Physiographic Divisions of India | Geography
- 3 Major Physiographic Divisions of India (with maps)