Coupon Accepted Successfully!


Introduction to Physical Features of India


India is a vast country with a wide-ranging geographical landscape.

Let us look at the different land forms in India.


1. Plains
Plains are vast stretches of land that are mostly flat.

The Indo- Gangetic plain is one of the largest in India.

Extent of the Indo-Gangetic Plain

2. Deserts
A Desert is barren land with little water and vegetation. It is more or less considered as wasteland.

The largest desert in India is the Thar desert. It is spread over four states, namely, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat.

The Thar Desert

3. Mountains
Mountains are landforms that extends above the surrounding region in a limited area. A mountain is generally steeper than a hill. A mountain usually has an identifiable summit.

There are many mountain ranges in India. The highest ranges in India are the Himalayas/


The Himalayas

4. Plateaus
A plateau, is an area of highland. It is usually a flat top surface.

The Deccan plateau in Central India is the largest Indian Plateau.

The Deccan Plateau of southern India

5. Islands
An island or isle is a piece of land that is totally surrounded by water.

The Lakshadweep Islands and the Andaman and Microbar Islands are 2 off-shore islands in India.

The Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Let us look more deeply into what these land forms include.


Land forms comprise mainly of rocks and soil.

  • Rocks:
  1. Rock formations are found in the plains as well as in the mountainous regions of India. Wide variety of rocks are found here.
  2. Hard rocks - Granite and Marble
  3. Soft rocks - Soap stone
  • Soil:
Generally the soils in India can be classified into 8 categories.
  1. alluvial soil
  2. black soil
  3. red soil
  4. laterite soil
  5. forest soil
  6. arid & desert soil
  7. (saline & alkaline soil
  8. peaty & organic soil

The variation in rocks also results in the variation of the soil. India has black soil and red soil as these originate from the coloured rocks.

1. Black soil ,is found in the Deccan lava region of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. The soil has a high percentage of clay and can retain moisture .Because of this properties dry farming and growing cotton, are practised here.

2. Red soil is mostly found in the central highlands from Aravallis to Chota Nagpur Plateau.Red soil has a wide diffusion of iron content.


Formation of major landforms

India was formed during different geological periods. Erosion, weathering and deposition influenced India’s land forms and soil.


On the basis of certain geological evidence, scientists have arrived at certain possible theories to explain the formation of relief in different parts of the country. One such theory is the "Theory of Plate Tectonics".

According to the theory of plate tectonics, the earth’s crust is broken into a dozen plates that move independently. These slabs rest upon a layer of heated rock called the asthenosphere, which flows slowly like hot tar.

The basic concept behind ‘plate tectonics’ is that heat rises. The asthenosphere’s molten material, or magma, pushes upwards, while cooler, hardened matter sinks deeper into the mantle. 



  • Theory of Plate Tectonics

The plates on the earth’s crust tend to move. As the plates move, stress is built up with in the plates. This stress is also evident in the continental rocks which are found above the plates. This movement and the resulting stress leads to folding, faulting and volcanic activity.

These plate movements can be categorised into three types.

Plates come towards each other and form convergent boundaries

Convergent boundaries

Plates move away from each other and form divergent boundaries

  • Divergent boundaries

Plates move horizontally past each other forming transform boundaries.

Transform boundaries



The position and size of the continents have changed due to the movements of these plates. These plate movements have resulted in the present landform features and relief of India.


Peninsular India is the oldest landmass. It was part of the Gondwanaland which included India, Australia, South Africa and South America as one single land mass.

Let us try to trace the movement of the plates in this region, which resulted in the formation of India.

1. The Indo-Australian plate drifted away from the Gondwanaland, due to the convectional currents that split the crust into a number of pieces.

2. The drifting Indo-Australian plate collided with the larger Eurasian Plate.

3. The collision of plates, the sedimentary rocks which were accumulated in the Tethys Ocean that lay between the continents of Gondwana and Laurasia folded to form the mountains in Western Asia and Himalayas.

Test Your Skills Now!
Take a Quiz now
Reviewer Name