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Geography of India at a Glance

Updated on June 19, 2013

Geography of India

Doddabetta- Nilgiris- South India
Doddabetta- Nilgiris- South India | Source

India: Location & Extent

India is in the continent of Asia, is the world’s 7th largest country with an area of about 3.28 million square kilometers. The land of India mainly comprises the mainland and a number of islands. The mainland of India is a large peninsula, circumscribed by seas on three sides and lying mainly in tropical and subtropical regions of Northern Hemisphere. Mighty mountains in the north separate India from the rest of Asia. The Tropic of Cancer runs about midway through the country. India is very rich in natural resources and is full of diversity in physical characteristics.

North to South, from 37°6’N to 8°4’N, is over 3400 km stretch of mainland. West to East, from 68°7’E to 97°25’E, is over 3000 km stretch. This difference in longitude of 29° leads to a big variation in local time, calculated to be about 2 hours (westernmost point of Gujarat and easternmost point in Arunachal Pradesh). So to avoid this irregularity and for the sake of uniformity, the local time of 82°30’E longitude (Standard Meridian of India) is taken as the Indian Standard Time, which is five and a half hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

Peninsular India roughly takes a shape of a triangle, west of it is the Arabian Sea and to the east is the Bay of Bengal and to the southern side is the great Indian Ocean. Coastline of India is about 7,500 kilometers.

While the northern plains are mainly known for the fertile land and thereby the food house of India and feeding raw materials for many industries, the Southern part of India is rich in mineral resources thereby playing a crucial role in the Industrial Development.

Neighbors of India

To the northern side are the China, Nepal and Bhutan. To the east of India are Bangladesh and Myanmar. Palk of Strait separates India from the island country Sri Lanka in the south. To the south of Lakshadweep is another island nation Maldives and to the south-east of Andaman & Nicobar Islands lie Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. And to the north-west are Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Political Divisions of India

There are 28 states (divided mainly on the basis of language) and 7 union territories for the purpose of administrative purposes. New Delhi in north is the capital of India. Rajasthan is the largest state of India and Goa is the smallest state. Andaman & Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal are the largest union territory and Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea are the smallest.

India: States, Capitals and Union Territories

India's Political Map
India's Political Map | Source

Physical Divisions of India

Physically diversified India is a land of the highest mountains in the world, great rivers, fertile land, extensive plateaus and very dense forests. Mainland of India broadly can be divided into four physical parts namely- The Northern Mountains, The Northern Plains, The Peninsular Plateau and The Coastal Plains. Other than this there are two island groups mentioned earlier- The Lakshadweep and The Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

The Northern Mountains

Running through entire northern boundary of India there are mighty mountains which are home of highest peaks in the world, Mount Everest (8,848 m- 1st) in Nepal, Mount K2 now in Pakistan (8611 m- 2nd) and Mount Kanchenjunga (8,598 m- 3rd) in Sikkim, India. South of the Karakoram range is are the youngest mountains in the world, The Himalayas meaning abode of snow having many peaks exceeding 8,000 m and covered with snow throughout the year, that’s why the name. This range runs from Indus valley in the west to the Brahmaputra in the east extending up to a length of 2,500 km.

Himalayas consists of three parallel ranges with deep and narrow valleys between them namely Great Himalayas (Himadri), the Lesser Himalayas and the Outer Himalayas (Shivaliks). The eastward continuations of the Himalayas are collectively known as the Purvachal (Eastern Hills) including Patkai, Naga, Garo, Khasi, Jaintia and Mizo hills in the north-east.

Many rivers originate from the Himalayas that run in neighboring countries like In China, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Ganga and Yamuna are the major rivers in India.

The Northern Plains

Indo-Gangetic plains are one of the largest plains in the world; the land is so fertile that country has earned the tag of an agrarian due to prolific alluvial deposits of Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and their tributaries.

->The Punjab- Haryana Basin

Main land of this basin now lies in Pakistan, and in India major region is drained by mainly by the Satluj, Ravi ad Beas, which are tributaries of river Indus.

->The Ganga Plain

Another major part of northern plains is formed by the river Ganga and its tributaries which include Yamuna, Ghaghara, Gandak, Kosi and Sone. This part is also one of the most plentiful and fruitful land of the world.

->The Brahmaputra Plain

This part is formed by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries. River Brahmaputra originates in China where it is known as Tsangpo. It travels in north-eastern states and meets Ganga in Bangladesh making the largest delta in the world known as the Sunderbans (home of Royal Bengal Tiger) formed by the alluvium deposits brought down with the rivers.

The Peninsular Plateau

The oldest landform of India is the peninsular plateau which is surrounded by sea on the three sides comprising of two distinct parts Malwa and Deccan plateaus separated by the Vindhya and the Satpura ranges.

The Malwa Plateau

It is the northern part of the peninsular plateau, bounded by the Aravali range in the west and the Vindhya and Satpura ranges in the south.

The Deccan Plateau

South of the Vindhya and Satpura range is the deccan plateau. This plateau is bounded by the hills on west and east, of which the western are collectively called as the Western Ghats (Sahyadris) and the eastern as the Eastern Ghats. Major hills of Western Ghats are Satmala, Nilgiri, Anaimalai and Cardomom.

Godavari also known as the Ganga of the south India is the longest river of the deccan plateau. Like Godavari other east flowing rivers of this plateau are Mahanadi, Krishna and Kaveri that flows down to meet the Bay of Bengal. West flowing rivers of deccan plateau that flows down to meet Arabian Sea are Narmada and Tapi.

Coastal Plains

These lies to the east and west of the Eastern and Western Ghats, of which eastern coastal plains are much larger than the western that are narrower in Gujarat but are somewhat broader towards south where they are known as Konkan Coast, further south as the Malabar Coast; and the eastern coastal plain’s northern part is called Northern Circars and the southern as the Coromandel Coast.

India: Mountains, Rivers and Seas

Physical Map of India
Physical Map of India | Source

The Islands

Two island groups are there in India, one in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Kerala known as the Lakshadweep Islands of which many are still uninhabited and the other which comprise of more than 550 small islands (actually peaks of submerged volcanic mountains), the Andaman & Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.

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    • Tarun Bajaj profile image

      Tarun Bajaj 4 years ago from Panipat - India

      Thanks Madam for your valuable comment, and stopping by..

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      That is a very well written introduction to INDIA, with regard to its geography. Thanks for the pictures and thanks for the follow. Welcome to HP. Wishing you great times ahead.