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What is the Physical Geography of India?

Instructor: Amy C. Evans

Amy has a BA/MA Criminal Justice. Worked with youth for over 20 years in academic settings. Avid reader, history and mystery lover.

In this lesson, we explore India's physical geography. We will take a look at the major geographical features that comprise the country, where they are located, and review some interesting facts.

Geographical Features and India

A visit to India is a visit to an ancient land that has been inhabited for thousands of years and seen the rise and fall of many civilizations. Its geographical features have served as both barriers and facilitators of human settlement and have been instrumental in the regulation of India's climate. Let's learn a little bit about India's physical geography by breaking it down into geographical features.

Map of India
Map of India

Mountains

There are several major mountain ranges that can be found in India along with some smaller ranges. Here are three examples of major mountain ranges:

  • The Himalayas: Mount Everest is the highest peak in the Himalayas with an elevation of 29,035 feet; the Himalaya's lie to the north and sit on India's border with the country of Nepal.
  • The Western Ghats: Anai Mudi is the highest peak in the Western Ghats at 8,842 feet above sea level and is located near India's western coast on the Arabian Sea.
  • The Eastern Ghats: Arma Konda, at 5,512 feet high is the highest peak in the Eastern Ghats and is located near India's coast on the Bay of Bengal.

Mount Everest is the highest peak in the Himalayas
Mount Everest

Bodies of Water

India is located on the continent of Asia and is sometimes referred to as the subcontinent of India. Much of the country is a peninsula surrounded on three sides by water:

  1. the Arabian Sea
  2. the Indian Ocean, and
  3. the Bay of Bengal

India also has a variety of lagoons and other bodies of water associated with coastal environments as well as over sixty lakes.

Rivers

India is rich in rivers with at least eight major river systems. Four of these rivers originate in the Himalayas; the Ganga, the Indus, Brahmaputra, and the Yamuna. The other four rivers originate on the peninsula and are called the Cauvery, the Godavari, the Krishna, and the Mahanadi.

  • The longest river that is completely within India's borders is the Ganga (Ganges), which has a length of approximately 1,560 miles. However, the longest river in India that spans the borders of other countries is the Indus River, which is around 2,000 miles long.
  • The Ganges River Delta separates India from Bangladesh and is formed by the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers and associated streams. It is the largest delta of its kind in the world.

Satellite image of the Ganges River Delta
Ganges

Wetlands

Wetlands are ecosystems that have soil that is saturated with water or are flooded (seasonally or year round). Wetlands are distinguished by their ability to support a type of plant called a hydrophyte (an aquatic species of plant) and are home to an incredible biodiversity of life. There are approximately 115 named wetlands in India that can be found in the interior of the country as well as along the coast.

Wetlands in India include the Chandertal Wetland in Himachal Pradesh, the Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, and the Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, which contains wetlands that are famous for their swamp tigers (aka Bengal tigers).

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