Physiographic Divisions of India: The Himalaya - Geography- Frontier IAS
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Physiographic Divisions of India: The Himalaya

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Physiographic Divisions of India: The Himalaya|Geography|Frontier IAS

India has a unique culture and is one of the oldest and greatest civilizations in the world. In this article, we have provided a summary of the Physiography of India as a quick revision, which can be helpful in the preparation of various competitive examinations.

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Physiography of India:

  • India, being a vast country, lies in Northern and Eastern hemisphere.
  • One important latitude passes through it i.e. Tropic of Cancer (23°30’N) and it bifurcates India into two halves.
  • Tropic of cancer passes through the following states- Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tripura, Mizoram.

Tropic of cancer passing through 8 states.

  • Mainland extends between 8°4’N and 37°6’N latitude and 68°7’E and 97°25’E longitude.
  • North-south extent- 3214 km
  • West-East extent- 2944 km
  • Standard meridian of India passes through (82°30’E) which is situated in Naini, Allahabad (U.P.).It also passes through M.P, Chhatisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Time of India is ahead of Greenwich Mean Time by 5 hours and 30 minutes because IST is based on 82°30’E longitude.

  • Area- 3,287,263 square km
  • In terms of area, India is the 7th largest country in the world i.e. 2.4% of the total geographic area.
  • Coastline-7500 km approx.
  • Islands- Andaman & Nicobar group and Lakshadweep
  • North- Young fold mountains
  • South- Peninsular Plateau
  • West- Desert
  • East- Purvanchal

Neighbour Countries of India:

  • Afghanistan- India shares smallest boundary with Afghanistan
  • Pakistan
  • China
  • Nepal
  • Bhutan
  • Bangladesh- India shares longest boundary with Bangladesh
  • Indian Subcontinent-India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives

Physiographic divisions of India:

India is divided into six physiographic divisions:

  • Northern mountain complex
  • Northern Plain
  • Peninsular Plateau
  • Indian Desert
  • Coastal Plains
  • Islands

1. Northern Mountain complex

  •      Trans-Himalayas
  •      Greater Himalayas
  •      Lesser Himalayas (Himachal)
  •      Outer Himalayas (Shivalik)
  •      Purvanchal

2. Northern plains

  •      The Ganga Plains
  •      Brahmputra Plains

3. Peninsular Plateau

  •       Central Highlands
  •       Chhotanagpur Plateau
  •       Deccan Plateau

4. Coastal Plains

  •      Western coastal plains- Malabar coast
  •      Eastern coastal plain- Coromandel coast

Trans Himalayas:

  • Created due to the collision with the Eurasian plate.
  • Northern most area in the country in the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Extension of Tibetan plateau around the Himalayas.
  • The Zaskar, the Ladakh, the Kailas and the Karakoram are the main ranges.
  • Average elevation =3000 m above mean sea level.
  • Average width= 40 km at the extremities and about 225 km in the central part.
  • Northern most range is Great Karakoram Range also known as the Krishnagiri range.

 The Himalayas:

  • Himalayas are formed due to C-C collision between Indian plate and Eurasian plate which began 50 million years ago and continues even today.
  • Himalayas are developed in 3 phases-

1. Great Himalayas (Oligo-Eocene period)

2. Middle Himalayas (Miocene period)

3. Outer Himalayas (Pleistocene period)

 Properties of Himalayas:

  • Himalayas are fold mountain which are formed mainly of sedimentary rocks of marine origin. (Tethys Sea)
  • Himalayas are not single mountain but a series of ranges which is bordered on North-West by the Karakoram and Hindu-Kush ranges, on North by Tibetan Plateau and in South by Indo Gangetic plains.
  • Himalayas can be divided North-South as well as West to East.

North-South division of Himalaya:

  • Great Himalayas
  • Middle/ Lesser Himalayas (Himanchal)
  • Outer Himalayas (Shivaliks)

1. Himadri or Greater Himalaya:

  • Northernmost region of the Himalayas
  • Highest and most continuous range of Himalaya
  • Average height- 6000 km
  • All important peaks are situated in this region
  • Highest peak of the world -Mount Everest(8852)
  • Snow-bound area and a number of important rivers originate from this region

 Important peaks of Greater Himalaya:

  1. Mount Everest
  2. Kanchenjunga
  3. Nanga Parbat
  4. Nanda Devi
  5. Kamet
  6. Namcha Barwa

Important Passes of Greater Himalaya:

  • Karakoram- it is situated in Ladakh region of J & K, highest pass of the India
  • Burzil- situated in Greater Himalayas of J and K. It connects Srinagar and Gilgit.
  • Zoji la- situated in Zaskar range in J and K. Srinagar-Leh highway passes through it
  • Pir Panjal- situated in Pir panjal range
  • Banihal-Situated in Ladakh region. Jawahar tunnel is here.
  • Shipki la- in Zaskar range, Himachal Pradesh
  • Bara Lacha la- in Zaskar, Himachal Pradesh
  • Mana la- in Kumaon range, Uttarakhand.
  • Niti La, Thaga la and Lipu lekh- in Kumaon range, UK
  • Nathu la and Jelep la-Sikkim

 2. Himanchal or Lesser Himalayas:

  • Middle Himalayas
  • width-80 to 100 km
  • Average height- 1300-1500 m
  • Main rocks- quartzites, limestone and slate
  • Alpine grasslands are located which are known as marg i.e. Sonmarg, Gulmarg
  • Famous for its scenic beauty and hill stations like Kullu-Manali, Mussoorie, Darjeeling etc.

Important ranges:

  1. Pir panjal range
  2. Dhauladhar range
  3. Mahabharat range


  1. Kangra valley
  2. Kullu valley
  3. Kashmir valley

 3. Shiwalik or Outer Himalayas:

  • Southernmost Himalayas
  • Width- 10 to 50 km
  • Height- 900 to 1200 m
  • This is not a continuous range
  • Most recent part of the himalayas
  • Between Shiwalik and Himachal there are number of valleys like Kathmandu valley
  • Western side- Duns or Duar like Dehradun, Kotli dun and Patli dun and Haridwar (Dehradun largest of them)
  • Lowermost part is called Terai region which is marshy area with dense forests.

Division on the basis of Rivers:

  • Besides the longitudinal divisions, the Himalayas have also been divided on the basis of regions from west to east. These divisions have been demarcated by river valleys.


  1. Indus-Satluj- Kashmir/Punjab Himalayas
  2. Satluj-Kali- Kumaon Himalayas
  3. Kali-Kosi-Nepal Himalayas
  4. Kosi-Teesta- Sikkim Himalaya
  5. Teesta-Dihang-Assam Himalayas

Purvanchal hills:

  • Southward extension of Himalayas running along the north-eastern edge of India.
  • At the Dihang gorge, the Himalayas take a sudden southward bend and form a series of comparatively low hills which are collectively called as the Purvanchal.
  • Purvanchal hills are convex to the west.
  • Run along the India-Myanmar Border extending from Arunachal Pradesh in the north to Mizoram in the south.

Main hills are:

  • Patkai hills
  • Naga hills
  • Barail range
  • Mizoram hills

Geological History of India: Geography- Frontier IAS

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