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India-Physiographic Zones


Physical Features of India

Elevation map of India

Let us look at the physiographic zones of India.

Now let us look at the zones in detail.


The Himalayan Mountains
The Himalayas, Hindu Kush, and Patkai ranges form an arc. 50 million years ago due to the tectonic collision of the Indian plate and the Eurasian plate this mountain arc was formed. These mountain ranges house some of the world's tallest mountains and act as a natural barrier to the cold polar winds.

Rivers that start from these mountains provide water to the fertile Indo-Gangetic plains.

The Himalayan range is considered by bio-geographers as the boundary between EARTH'S two eco zones.

The 2 eco zones are:

1. THE TEMPERATE PALEARCTIC ECOZONE covering most of Eurasia

2. THE TROPICAL AND SUBTROPICAL INDO-MALAYA ECOZONE that includes the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Indonesia.

These mountain ranges have served as barriers to invaders for centuries. It covers a distance of about 2,400 Km. The width of the mountain varies from 400 Km in Kashmir to 150 Km in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Himalayan Range consists of three parallel ranges , longitudinally.

1. Himadri - The northern most range is also called the Greater or Inner Himalayas.

2. Himachal – The southern range is called the lesser Himalaya.

3. Shiwaliks - The outer most range of the Himalayas.

Let us learn a little more about these 3 Himalayan Ranges.


Himadri, the great Himalayan zone forms the northern boundary of the region stretching in North West - South East direction, the average width of the Himadri is about 50 kms. The average altitude of the zone varies from 4,800mts. to 6,000 mts.

The important peaks of this region are:

(i) Nanda Devi,

(ii) Kamet,

(iii) Bander Punchh,

(iv) Kedarnath,

(v) Chaukhamba,

(vi) Dunagiri,

(vii) Trishul

(viii) Nandakot.

Glacier can be found in all these mountains. These ranges are composed of granite rocks.

Let us look at one of these peaks in detail.


The Nanda Devi mountains

The Nanda Devi mountains

Nanda Devi is a two-peaked mountain forming a 2 km long ridge, running east-west. The western summit is higher, and the eastern summit is called Nanda Devi East. Together the peaks are referred to as the twin peaks of the goddess Nanda.


The Himachal range continues east through the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh The height of the mountains varies between 3,700 to 4500 meters. Thousands of years of folding, faulting and over -thrusting has led to the formation of these mountains

The important peaks of this region are:

1. The Pir Panjal range.

2. The Dhaula Dhar.

3. The Mahabharat ranges.

4. The Kangra and Kullu Valley.

These ranges are mainly composed of highly compressed and altered rocks. Many well known hill stations are found here.

Let us look at one of these hill stations in detail.

Kullu Valley

Kullu Valley

Kullu Valley is the largest valley in the Kullu district, in Himachal Pradesh. River Beas runs through the middle of the valley. It is also called the "Valley of the Gods". This picturesque Valley is an important tourist spot for foreigners.

The Shiwaliks


The Shiwalik Ranges

The outer most range of the Himalayas is called the Shiwaliks. They extend over a width of 10-50 Km and have an altitude varying between 900 and 1100 metres.

The Sivalik Hills are chiefly composed of sandstone and conglomerate formations. These

valleys are covered with thick gravel and alluvium.

Some of the important valleys found along these ranges are:-

1. Dehra Dun

2. Kotli Dun

3. Patli Dun

These valleys are known as Duns.

Let us look at one of these valleys in detail.

Dehra Dun

The Great Stupa in Dehra Dun

Dehra Dun is located in the Dun valley, 230 kilometers north of India's capital New Delhi The district is surrounded by the Himalayas in the north, Shivalik Hills in the south, the river Ganga in the east, and the river Yamuna in the west.

The earliest tangible evidence of the history of Dehradun dates back to 300 BC, as indicated by a rock inscription at Kalsi, discovered in 1860.

Notable Peaks

Name of the Peak

Other names

Elevation (m)

Year of First ascent



Sagarmatha -"Forehead of the Sky",
Chomolangma or Qomolangma -"Mother of the Universe"



World's highest mountain, situated on the border of Nepal and Tibet, China.


Chogo Gangri



World's 2nd highest. Located on border between Pakistan-administered Northern Areas and Xinjiang, China. Widely considered one of the most challenging mountains in the world to climb.


Kangchen Dzö-nga, "Five Treasures of the Great Snow"



World's 3rd highest, highest in India (Sikkim) and second highest in Nepal.





World's 5th highest situated in Nepal.


White Mountain



World's 7th highest situated in Nepal.

Nanga Parbat

Nangaparbat Peak or Diamir, "Naked Mountain"



World's 9th highest. Located in Pakistan. Considered one of the world's most dangerous mountains to climb.


"Goddess of the Harvests"



World's 10th highest situated in Nepal.

Nanda Devi

"Bliss-Giving Goddess"



Located in Uttarakhand, India

Apart from being divided into 3 ranges longitudinally ,the Himalayas is also divided into regions. These regions are divided on the basis of the rivers that flow from the mighty Himalayas.


Now let us look at the regional division of the Himalayas.

1. Punjab Himalaya – the region lying between the Indus and Satluj.

2. Kumaon Himalayas – the region lying between the Satluj and Kali rivers.

3. Nepal Himalayas – the region lying between the Kali and Tista rivers.

4. Assam Himalayas – The region lying between the Tista and Dihang rivers.

5. Purvanchal – The eastern most region , where the Brahmaputra flows.


Major Mountain Ranges in India

Some of the other major mountain ranges in India are:


Some of the other mountain ranges of India

1.Aravalli Range

2.Eastern Ghats

3.Vindhya Range

4.Western Ghats

5.Satpura Range

1. The Aravali Range

The Aravali Range is the oldest mountain range in India. It extends from northeast to southwest across Rajasthan in western India. It is almost 500 km in length.

2. Eastern Ghats

The Eastern Ghats is not a continuous range of mountains. Four major rivers cut through these ranges. These rivers are the Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna, and Kaveri. The Eastern Ghats extend from West Bengal in the north, through Orissa and Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu in the south. They are parallel to the Bay of Bengal. The Eastern Ghats meet with the Western Ghats meet at the Nilgiri hills in Tamil Nadu.

3. Vindhya Range

The Vindhya range extends across most of central India, covering a distance of 1,050 km. The range runs east and north almost meeting the Ganges River at Mirzapur.

4. Western Ghats
The Western Ghats or Sahyadri mountains extend along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau. The range starts south of the Tapti River near the Gujarat–Maharashtra border, and runs across the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, almost to the southern tip of the Indian peninsula for approximately 1,600 km . The average elevation is around 1,000 m. The Anai Mudi in the Cardamom Hills at 2,695 m is the highest peak in the Western Ghats. It is situated in Kerala.


5. Satpura Range
The Satpura Range is found in central India. It extends for a distance of 900 km. The River Narmada runs between the Satpura and Vindhya ranges.It drains the northern slope of the Satpura range and flows towards the Arabian Sea.


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