is a land of lofty mountains
and mighty rivers. Extensive are its plains and no less wide are its
plateaus. A vast land with such varied relief is inhabited by about 950
million people. The country consists of three main physical divisions. They
are the Great Mountains of the North, the Great Plains of Northern India and
the Great Plateau of Peninsular India. The southern plateau is flanked by
the narrow coastal strips which are a part and parcel of the peninsular land
The mountains extending between the Pamir Plateau and the Indus river in
Kashmir are known as the Karakoram Mountains. Those between the Indus and
the Brahmaputra are known as the Himalaya, meaning the 'abode of snow'. The
eastern section of these mountains in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim is known
as the Eastern Himalaya.
Karakoram Mountains in the northern part of Kashmir are the north-western
extension of the Himalaya. K-2, the world's second highest mountain peak,
belongs to this mountain range. The other important ranges of the Kashmir
Himalaya are the Ladakh, the Zanskar and the Pirpanjal. The northernmost
range of the Himalaya proper is known as the Himadri. Loftiest Himalayan
range contains the world's highest peak with an elevation of 8,848 metres
above sea level. Some of the other important peaks are Nanga Parbat, Nanda
Devi, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Makalu, Manaslu and Kanchenjunga.
The Great Plains
To the south of the Great Mountains of the north lie the plains of Northern
India. This region is made up of alluvium and is extremely level. It extends
roughly about 2500 km east to west.
Great Plains consists of two river basins, namely, those of the Indus and
the Ganga-Brahmaputra. The Indus, the Ganga and the Brahamaputra are the
three most important rivers of the Indian sub-continent. The Indus basin is
drained by the river Indus and its tributaries-the Jhelum, Chenab, Beas,
Ravi and Sutlej. The river Ganga in its lower reaches is joined by the great
Brahmaputra. Together they form the world's largest delta before their
waters flow into the Bay of Bengal.
The northern part of this Great Plateau is bounded by the Aravalli range in
the west and the Vindhya to its south. To the north-west of this plateau
lies the Desert of Rajasthan. The western edge of the Deccan Plateau is
called the Western Ghat. These are formed by the Sahyadri, the Nilgiri, The
Annamalai and the Cardmom Hills. Overlooking the Arabian Sea, they run
parallel to the coast. With an elevation of 2695 metres about sea level,
Anai Mudi in Kerala is the highest peak of peninsular India. The Eastern
edge of the plateau is known as Eastern Ghats. Both Western and Eastern
Ghats converge at the Nilgiris.
The Deccan Plateau
It is flanked by a narrow coastal plain on the west. It is broadest in the
north where it includes the plain of Gujarat. In Bombay & Marmagoa, it
possesses two best natural harbours and lagoons and back waters in Kerala.
The eastern coastal strip possesses the fertile deltas of the Kaveri,
Krishna, Godavari amd Mahanadi rivers. The southern part of the east coast
is known as the Coromandel Coast. The coastal strip in the north merges with
the delta of the Ganga Brahmaputra.