Geography of India

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Geography of Asia

Geography of {{{name}}}
Continent Asia
Region Southern Asia
Indian subcontinent
Coordinates 20°00'N 77°00' E
Area Ranked 7th
3,287,590 km²
1,269,345.60 miles²
90.44% land
9.56% water
Coastline 7,516 km (4,670.23 miles)
Borders Total land borders:
14,103 km (8,763 miles)
4,053 km (2,520 miles)
605 km (376 miles)
1,463 km (909 miles)
China (PRC):
3,380 km (2,100 miles)
1,690 km (1,050 miles)
2,912 km (1,809 miles)
Highest point Kanchenjunga
8,598 m (28,209 ft)
Lowest point Kuttanad
−2.2 m (−7.2 ft)
Longest river Ganges- Brahmaputra
Largest lake Chilka Lake

The geography of India is extremely diverse, with landscape ranging from snow-capped mountain ranges to deserts, plains, hills and plateaus. India comprises most of the Indian subcontinent situated on the Indian Plate, the northerly portion of the Indo-Australian Plate. Having a coastline of over 7,000 km (4,300 miles), most of India lies on a peninsula in southern Asia that protrudes into the Indian Ocean. India is bounded in the southwest by the Arabian Sea and in the southeast by the Bay of Bengal.

The fertile Indo-Gangetic plain occupies most of northern, central and eastern India, while the Deccan Plateau occupies most of southern India. To the west of the country is the Thar Desert, which consists of a mix of rocky and sandy desert. India's east and northeastern border consists of the high Himalayan range. The highest point in India is disputed due to a territorial dispute with Pakistan; according to India's claim, the highest point (located in the disputed Kashmir territory) is K2, at 8,611 m (28,251 feet). The highest point in undisputed Indian territory is Kangchenjunga, at 8,598 m (28,208 feet). Climate ranges from equatorial in the far south, to tundra in the Himalayan altitudes.

India is bordered by Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan. Sri Lanka and the Maldives are island nations to the south of India. Politically, India is divided into 28 states, six federally administered union territories and a national capital territory. The political divisions generally follow linguistic and ethnic boundaries rather than geographic transitions.

Location and extent

Kanyakumari is the southernmost point in mainland India.
Kanyakumari is the southernmost point in mainland India.

India lies to the north of the equator between 8 degree 4 minutes and 37 degree 6 minutes north latitude and 68 degrees 7 minutes and 97 degrees 25 minutes east longitude. It is the seventh-largest country in the world, with a total land area of 3,287,590 km² (1,269,219 square miles). India measures 3,214 km (1,997 miles) from north to south and 2,933 km (1,822 miles) from east to west. It has a land frontier of 15,200 km (9,445 miles) and a coastline of 7,516.5 km (4,670.5 miles). The Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea are parts of India.

India is bounded on the southwest by the Arabian Sea and on the southeast by the Bay of Bengal. On the north, northeast, and northwest are the Himalayas. Kanyakumari constitutes the southern tip of the Indian peninsula, which narrows before ending in the Indian Ocean.

Political geography

India is divided into 29 states (which are further subdivided into districts), six union territories and the National Capital Territory of Delhi. States have their own elected government, while Union Territories are governed by an administrator appointed by the union government.

States and territories of India
States and territories of India


  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Arunachal Pradesh
  3. Assam
  4. Bihar
  5. Chhattisgarh
  6. Goa
  7. Gujarat
  8. Haryana
  9. Himachal Pradesh
  10. Jammu and Kashmir
  11. Jharkhand
  12. Karnataka
  13. Kerala
  14. Madhya Pradesh
  1. Maharashtra
  2. Manipur
  3. Meghalaya
  4. Mizoram
  5. Nagaland
  6. Orissa
  7. Punjab
  8. Rajasthan
  9. Sikkim
  10. Tamil Nadu
  11. Tripura
  12. Uttaranchal
  13. Uttar Pradesh
  14. West Bengal

Union Territories:

  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. Chandigarh
  3. Dadra and Nagar Haveli
  4. Daman and Diu
  5. Lakshadweep
  6. Puducherry
  7. National Capital Territory of Delhi

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is claimed by India but disputed by Pakistan and China, who administer parts of the territory. The state of Arunachal Pradesh is claimed by China but administered by India.

Geographical regions

India is divided into seven geographic regions. They are

  1. The northern mountains including the Himalayas and the northeast mountain ranges.
  2. Indo-Gangetic plains
  3. Thar Desert
  4. Central Highlands and Deccan Plateau
  5. East Coast
  6. West Coast
  7. Bordering seas and islands


Map of the hilly regions in India.
Map of the hilly regions in India.

A great arc of mountains, composed of the Himalaya, Hindu Kush, and Patkai ranges, define the Indian subcontinent. These mountains were formed by the ongoing tectonic collision of the Indian Plate with the Eurasian Plate which started some 50 million years ago. These mountain ranges are home to some of the tallest mountains in the world and provide a natural barrier against the cold polar winds. They also facilitate the monsoons that drive climate in India. The protection and climatic control they have provided has been a geographical quality that has assisted India's position as a Great power. The numerous rivers that originate in these mountains provide water to the fertile Indo-Gangetic plains. These mountains are recognised by biogeographers as the boundary between two of the earth's great ecozones; the temperate Palearctic that covers most of Eurasia, and the tropical and subtropical Indomalaya ecozone that includes the Indian subcontinent and extend into Southeast Asia and Indonesia. Historically, these ranges have served as barriers to invaders.

India has seven major mountain ranges having peaks of over 1,000 m (3,300 feet). The Himalayas are the only mountain ranges to have snow-capped peaks. These ranges are:

  1. Aravalli
  2. Eastern Ghats
  3. Himalayas
  4. Patkai
  5. Vindhyas
  6. Sahyadri or Western Ghats
  7. Satpuras
  8. Karakoram
A composite image of the Himalaya.
A composite image of the Himalaya.

The Himalaya mountain range is the world's highest mountain range. They form India's north-eastern border, separating it from the rest of Asia. The Himalayas are one of the world's youngest mountain ranges, and extend almost uninterrupted for a distance of 2,500 km (1,550 miles), covering an area of 500,000 km² (193,000 square miles).

Himalayan peaks in Sikkim.
Himalayan peaks in Sikkim.

The Himalayas extend from the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the west to the state of Arunachal Pradesh in the east. These states along with Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, and Sikkim lie mostly in the Himalayan region. Some of the Himalayan peaks range over 7,000 m (23,000 feet) and the snow line ranges between 6,000 m (19,600 feet) in Sikkim to around 3,000 m (9,850 feet) in Kashmir. Kangchenjunga, which lies in Sikkim, is the highest point in the country's territory (undisputed). Most peaks in the Himalayas remain snowbound throughout the year.

The Shiwalik, or lower Himalaya, consists of smaller hills towards the Indian side. Most of the rock formations are young and highly unstable, with landslides being a regular phenomenon during the rainy season. Many of India's hill stations are located on this range. The climate varies from sub tropical in the foothills to tundra at the higher elevations of these mountain ranges.

The mountains on India's eastern border with Myanmar are called as the Patkai or the Purvanchal. They were created by the same tectonic processes that resulted in the formation of the Himalaya. The features of the Patkai ranges are conical peaks, steep slopes and deep valleys. The Patkai ranges are not as rugged or tall as the Himalayas. There are three hill ranges that come under the Patkai: The Patkai-Bum, the Garo- Khasi- Jaintia, and the Lushai hills. The Garo-Khasi range is in the Indian state of Meghalaya. The climate ranges from temperate to alpine due to altitude. Cherrapunji, which lies on the windward side of these hills, has the distinction of being the wettest place in the world, receiving the highest annual rainfall.

The Vindhyas in central India.
The Vindhyas in central India.

The Vindhya range runs across most of central India, covering a distance of 1,050 km (652 miles). The average elevation of these hills is 300 m (1,000 feet). They are believed to have been formed by the wastes created due to the weathering of the ancient Aravalli mountains. It geographically separates northern India from southern India. The western end of the range lies in eastern Gujarat, near its border with the state of Madhya Pradesh, and the range runs east and north nearly to the Ganges River at Mirzapur.

The Satpura Range is a range of hills in central India. It begins in eastern Gujarat near the Arabian Sea coast, then runs east through Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and ends in the state of Chhattisgarh. It extends for a distance of 900 km with many of its peaks rising above 1000 m (3,300 feet). It is angular in shape, with its vertex at Ratnapuri and the two sides being parallel to the Tapti and Narmada river. It runs parallel to the Vindhya Range, which lies to the north, and these two east-west ranges divide the Indo-Gangetic plain of northern India from the Deccan Plateau lying in the south. The Narmada runs in the depression between the Satpura and Vindhya ranges, and drains the northern slope of the Satpura range, running west towards the Arabian Sea.

The Aravalli range in Rajasthan.
The Aravalli range in Rajasthan.

The Aravalli Range is the oldest mountain range in India, running from northeast to southwest across Rajasthan in western India, extending approximately 500 km (310 miles). The northern end of the range continues as isolated hills and rocky ridges into Haryana, ending near Delhi. The highest peak is Mount Abu, rising to 1,722 m (5,653 feet), lying near the southwestern extremity of the range, close to the border with Gujarat. The city of Ajmer with its lake lies on the southern slope of the range in Rajasthan. The Aravalli Range is the eroded stub of an ancient folded mountain system that was once snow-capped. The range rose in a Precambrian event called the Aravalli-Delhi orogen. The range joins two of the ancient segments that make up the Indian craton, the Marwar segment to the northwest of the range, and the Bundelkhand segment to the southeast. The present Aravalli range is only a remnant of the gigantic system that existed in prehistoric times with several of its sum mits rising above the snow line and nourishing glaciers of stupendous magnitude which in turn fed many great rivers.

Elevated regions in India.
Elevated regions in India.

The Western Ghats or Sahyadri mountains run along the western edge of India's Deccan Plateau, and separate the Deccan plateau from a narrow coastal plain along the Arabian Sea. The range starts south of the Tapti River near the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra, and runs approximately 1,600 km (1,000 miles) through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, almost to the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. The average elevation is around 1,000 m with the higher peaks occurring in the southern section in Nilgiris and in Kerala. The Anai Mudi in the Cardamom Hills at 2,695 m (8,841 feet) in Kerala is the highest peak in the Western Ghats.

The Eastern Ghats are a discontinuous range of mountains, which have been eroded and cut through by the four major rivers of southern India, the Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna, and Kaveri. These mountain ranges extend from West Bengal in the north, through Orissa and Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu in the south. They run parallel to the Bay of Bengal and are not as tall as the Western Ghats, though some of its peaks are over 1000 m in height.

The Eastern and Western Ghats meet at the Nilgiri or Malay knot in Tamil Nadu. The Anai Mudi in the Cardamom Hills at 2,695 m (8,841 feet) in Kerala is the highest peak in the Western Ghats. The Nilgiris are considered to be a part of the Western Ghats.

Indo-Gangetic plain

A satellite view of the Gangetic plains.
A satellite view of the Gangetic plains.
Extent of the Indo-Gangetic plain across South Asia.
Extent of the Indo-Gangetic plain across South Asia.

The Indo-Gangetic plains are large floodplains of the Indus and the Ganga- Brahmaputra river systems. They run parallel to the Himalaya mountains, from Jammu and Kashmir in the west to Assam in the east, draining the states of Punjab, Haryana, eastern Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. The plains encompass an area of 700,000 km² (270,000 mile²) and vary in width through their length by several hundred kilometres. Major rivers that form a part of this system are the Ganga (Ganges) and Indus River along with their tributaries; Beas, Yamuna, Gomti, Ravi, Chambal, Sutlej and Chenab.

The Indo-Gangetic belt is the world's most extensive expanse of uninterrupted alluvium formed by the deposition of silt by the numerous rivers. The plains are flat and mostly treeless, making it conducive for irrigation through canals. The area is also rich in ground water sources.

The plains are one of the world's most intensely farmed areas. Crops grown on the Indo-Gangetic Plain are primarily rice and wheat, grown in rotation. Other crops include maize, sugarcane and cotton. Also known as the Great Plains, the Indo-Gangetic plains rank among the world's most densely populated areas. Water bodies of India are Indian ocean, arabian sea, bay of bengal.

Thar Desert

Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is situated in the heart of the Thar Desert. The region is arid and dusty.
Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is situated in the heart of the Thar Desert. The region is arid and dusty.

The Thar Desert (also known as the Great Indian Desert) is a hot desert that forms a significant portion of western India. Spread over four states in India Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat it covers an area of 208,110 km² (80,350 mile²). The desert continues into Pakistan as the Cholistan Desert. Most of the Thar Desert is situated in Rajasthan, covering 61% of its geographic area. Most of the desert is rocky, with a small part of the extreme west of the desert being sandy.

The origin of the Thar Desert is uncertain. Some geologists consider it to be 4,000 to 10,000 years old, whereas others state that aridity began in this region much earlier. The area is characterised by extreme temperatures of above 45 ° C (113 ° F) in summer to below freezing in winters. Rainfall is precarious and erratic, ranging from below 120 mm (4.72 in) in the extreme west to 375 mm (14.75 in) eastward. The lack of rainfall is mainly due to the unique position of the desert with respect to the Aravalli range. The desert lies in the rain shadow area of the Bay of Bengal arm of the southwest monsoon. The parallel nature of the range to the Arabian Sea arm also means that the desert does not receive much rainfall.

The desert can be divided into two regions, the great Desert and the little desert. The great Desert extends northwards from the edge of the Rann of Kutch region of Gujarat. The little desert extends from the River Luni between the towns of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, up to the northern areas. The soils of the arid region are generally sandy to sandy-loam in texture. The consistency and depth vary according to the topographical features. The low-lying loams are heavier and may have a hard pan of clay, calcium carbonate or gypsum. Due to the low population density, the effect of the population on the environment is relatively less compared to the rest of India.


The Central Highlands are composed of three main plateaus – the Malwa Plateau in the west, the Deccan Plateau in the south, (covering most of the Indian peninsula); and the Chota Nagpur Plateau in Jharkhand towards the east.

Satellite image of the Deccan region of southern India
Satellite image of the Deccan region of southern India

The Deccan plateau is a large triangular plateau, bounded by the Vindhyas to the north and flanked by the Eastern and Western Ghats. The Deccan covers a total area of 1.9 million km² (735,000 mile²). It is mostly flat, with elevations ranging from 300 to 600 m (1,000 to 2,000 feet).

The name Deccan comes from the Sanskrit word dakshina, which means "the south". The plateau slopes gently from west to east and gives rise to several peninsular rivers such as the Godavari, the Krishna, the Kaveri and the Narmada. This region is mostly semi-arid as it lies on the leeward side of both Ghats. Much of the Deccan is covered by thorn scrub forest scattered with small regions of deciduous broadleaf forest. Climate ranges from hot summers to mild winters.

The Chota Nagpur Plateau is a plateau in eastern India, which covers much of Jharkhand state as well as adjacent parts of Orissa, Bihar, and Chhattisgarh. The total area of Chota Nagpur Plateau is approximately 65,000 km² (25,000 mile²). The Chota Nagpur Plateau is made up of three smaller plateaus, the Ranchi, Hazaribagh, and Kodarma plateaus. The Ranchi plateau is the largest of the plateaus, with an average elevation of 700 m (2,300 feet). Much of the plateau is forested, covered by the Chota Nagpur dry deciduous forests. The plateau is famous for its vast reserves of ores and coal.

Besides the Great Indian peninsula, the Kathiawar Peninsula in Gujarat is another large peninsula of India.

East coast

The Eastern Coastal Plain is a wide stretch of land lying between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal. It stretches from Tamil Nadu in the south to West Bengal in the north. Deltas of many of India's rivers form a major portion of these plains. The Mahanadi, Godavari, Kaveri and Krishna rivers drain these plains. The region receives both the Northeast and Southwest monsoon rains with its annual rainfall averaging between 1,000 mm (40 in) and 3,000 mm (120 in). The width of the plains varies between 100 to 130 km (62 to 80 miles).

The plains are divided into six regions: The Mahanadi delta; the southern Andhra Pradesh plain; the Krishna Godavari deltas; the Kanyakumari coast; Coromandel Coast and sandy littoral.

West coast

A view of India's west coast at Goa, near the border with Maharashtra.
A view of India's west coast at Goa, near the border with Maharashtra.

The Western Coastal Plain is a narrow strip of land sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. The strip begins in Gujarat in the north and extends across the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. The plains are narrow, and range from 50 to 100 km (30 to 60 miles) in width.

Small rivers and numerous backwaters inundate the region. The rivers, which originate in the Western Ghats, are fast flowing and are mostly perennial. The fast flowing nature of the rivers results in the formation of estuaries rather than deltas. Major rivers flowing into the sea are the Tapi, Narmada, Mandovi and Zuari.

The coast is divided into three regions. The northern region of Maharashtra and Goa is known as the Konkan Coast, the central region of Karnataka is known as the Kanara Coast and the southern coastline of Kerala is known as the Malabar Coast. Vegetation in this region is mostly deciduous. The Malabar Coast has its own unique ecoregion known as the Malabar Coast moist forests.


India has two major offshore island possessions: the Lakshadweep islands and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Both these island groups are administered by the Union government of India as Union Territories.

The Lakshadweep islands lie 200 to 300 km (124 to 186 miles) off the coast of Kerala in the Arabian Sea. It consists of twelve coral atolls, three coral reefs, and five banks. Ten of these islands are inhabited.

The Andaman and Nicobar island chain lies in the Bay of Bengal near the Myanmar coast. It is located 950 km (590 miles) from Kolkata (Calcutta) and 193 km (120 miles) from Cape Negrais in Myanmar. The territory consists of two island groups, the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands. The Andaman islands consist of 204 islands having a total length of 352 km (220 miles). The Nicobar Islands, which lie south of the Andamans, consists of twenty-two islands with a total area of 1,841 km² (710 mile²). The highest point is Mount Thullier at 642 m (2,140 feet). Indira Point, India's southernmost land point is situated in the Nicobar islands, and lies just 189 km (117 miles) from the Indonesian island of Sumatra to the southeast.

Significant islands just off the Indian coast include Diu, a former Portuguese exclave; Majuli, Asia's largest freshwater island; Salcette Island, India's most populous island, on which Mumbai (Bombay) city is located; Elephanta in Bombay Harbour; and Sriharikota barrier island in Andhra Pradesh.


Rivers in India.
Rivers in India.

All major rivers of India originate from one of the three main watersheds. They are:

  1. The Himalaya and the Karakoram ranges
  2. Vindhya and Satpura range in central India
  3. Sahyadri or Western Ghats in western India

The Himalayan river networks are snow-fed and have a continuous flow throughout the year. The other two networks are dependent on the monsoons and shrink into rivulets during the dry season.

Twelve of India's rivers are classified as major, with the total catchment area exceeding 2,528,000 km² (976,000 mile²).

The Teesta River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra in northern West Bengal.
The Teesta River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra in northern West Bengal.

Himalayan rivers or the northern rivers that flow westward into Pakistan are the Indus, Beas, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Jhelum.

The Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghana system has the largest catchment area of 1,100,000 km² (424,700 mile²). The river Ganga originates at the Gangotri Glacier in Uttaranchal. It flows in a south easterly direction, draining into Bangladesh. The Yamuna and Gomti rivers also arise in the Western Himalayas and join the Ganga river in the plains. The Brahmaputra, another tributary of the Ganga originates in Tibet and enters India in the far eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. It then proceeds westwards, unifying with the Ganga in Bangladesh.

The Narmada River in central India.
The Narmada River in central India.

The Chambal, another tributary of the Ganga originates from the Vindhya-Satpura watershed. The river flows eastward. Westward flowing rivers from this watershed are the Narmada (also called Nerbudda) and Tapti (also spelled Tapi) rivers which drain into the Arabian Sea in Gujarat. The river network that flows from east to west constitutes 10% of the total outflow.

The Western Ghats are the source of all Deccan rivers. Major rivers in the Deccan include the Mahanadi River through the Mahanadi River Delta, Godavari River, Krishna River, and Kaveri River (also spelled Cauvery), all draining into the Bay of Bengal. These rivers constitute 20% of India's total outflow.

Bodies of water

The Pangong Lake in Ladakh, is a fine example of a mountain lake in the Himalayas.
The Pangong Lake in Ladakh, is a fine example of a mountain lake in the Himalayas.

Major gulfs include the Gulf of Cambay, Gulf of Kutch and the Gulf of Mannar. Straits include the Palk Strait which separates India from Sri Lanka and the Ten Degree Channel, separating the Andamans from the Nicobar Islands and the Eight Degree Channel separating the Laccadive and Amindivi Islands from Minicoy Island towards the south. Important capes include the Cape Comorin, the southern tip of mainland India, Indira Point, the southernmost location of India, Rama's Bridge and Point Calimere. Arabian Sea is to the west of India. Bay of Bengal is to the eastern side of India while India Ocean is to the South of India.

Smaller seas include the Laccadive Sea and the Andaman Sea. There are four coral reefs in India and are located in; the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gulf of Mannar, Lakshadweep and Gulf of Kutch.

Important lakes include Chilka Lake, the country's largest salt-water lake in Orissa; Kolleru Lake in Andhra Pradesh; Loktak Lake in Manipur, Dal Lake in Kashmir, Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan, and the Sasthamkotta Lake in Kerala.


India's wetland ecosystem is widely distributed from the cold and arid; from ones in the Ladakh region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to the ones in the wet and humid climate of peninsula India. Most of the wetlands are directly or indirectly linked to India's river networks. The Indian government has identified a total of 22 wetlands for conservation. Among the protected wetlands are the tropical mangrove forests in peninsular India and the salt mudflats in western India.

Mangrove forests occur all along the Indian coastline, in sheltered estuaries, creeks, backwaters, salt marshes and mud flats. The mangrove area covers a total of 6,740 km² (2,600 mile²) which comprises 7% of the world's total mangrove cover. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands; the Sundarbans; Gulf of Kutch; deltas of the Mahanadi, Godavari and Krishna; and parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala have large mangrove covers.

Most of the identified wetlands adjoin or are parts of sanctuaries, national parks and are thus protected.

The Sundarbans

Ganges River Delta, Bangladesh and India
Ganges River Delta, Bangladesh and India

The Sundarbans delta is the largest mangrove forest in the world. It lies at the mouth of the Ganges and is spread across areas of Bangladesh and West Bengal, India. The Bangladeshi and Indian portions of the jungle are listed in the UNESCO world heritage list separately as the Sundarbans and Sundarbans National Park respectively, though they are parts of the same forest. The Sundarbans are intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests, and presents an excellent example of ongoing ecological processes.

The area is known for its wide range of fauna. The most famous among these is the Bengal Tiger, but numerous species of birds, spotted deer, crocodiles and snakes also inhabit it. It is estimated that there are now 400 Bengal tigers and about 30,000 spotted deer in the area.

Rann of Kutch

The Rann of Kutch is a marshy region located in the Gujarat state of India, which borders the Sindh region of Pakistan. The name Rann comes from the Hindi word ran meaning "salt marsh." It occupies a total area of 27,900 km² (10,800 mile²).

The region was originally a part of the Arabian Sea. Geologic forces, most likely by earthquakes, resulted in the damming up of the region, turning it into a large salt-water lagoon. This area gradually filled with silt thus turning it into a seasonal salt marsh. During the monsoons, the area turns into a shallow marsh, often flooding to knee-depth height. After the monsoons, the region turns dry and becomes parched.


India's climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert. The Himalayas, along with the Hindu Kush mountains in Pakistan, provide a barrier to the cold winds from central Asia. This keeps most of the Indian subcontinent warmer than most locations in similar latitudes. The Thar Desert is responsible for attracting the moisture laden monsoon winds that provide most of India's rainfall.

It is difficult to generalise India's climate. India's huge size sees climatic conditions in Kashmir having little relation to that in the extreme south. In addition to this, the varied topography of the land sees many regions having their own microclimates. Climate in India ranges from tropical in the south to a temperate climate in the north. Parts of India in the Himalayas have a polar climate.

Meteorologists divide the year into four main seasons for most of the country: monsoon, summer, winter and withdrawal of the monsoons. Parts of India that lie in the Himalayan region see five seasons: spring, summer, monsoons, autumn and winter. Sustained snowfalls occur only in the elevated sections.

Temperature averages in India; units are in degree Celsius.
Temperature averages in India; units are in degree Celsius.

Summer lasts between March and June in most parts of India. Temperatures exceed 40 °C (104 °F) during the day. The coastal regions exceed 30 °C (86 °F) coupled with high levels of humidity. In the Thar desert area temperatures can exceed 45 °C (113 °F).

Summer is followed by the southwest monsoon rains that provide most of India with its rainfall. The rain-bearing clouds are attracted to the low-pressure system created by the Thar Desert. The official date for the arrival of the monsoon is 1 June, when the monsoon crosses the Kerala coast. The southwest monsoon splits into two arms, the Bay of Bengal arm and the Arabian Sea arm. The Bay of Bengal arm moves north-wards crossing northeast India in early June. It then progresses eastwards, crossing Delhi by June 29. The Arabian Sea arm moves north-wards and deposits much of its rain on the windward side of Western Ghats. By early July, most of India receives rain from the monsoons.

The monsoons start retreating by August from northern India and by October from Kerala. This short period after the retreat is known as the retreat of the monsoons and is characterised by still weather. By November, winter starts setting in the northern areas.

Winters start in November in northern India and late December in southern India. Winters in peninsula India see mild to warm days and cool nights. Further north the temperature is cooler. Temperatures in some parts of the Indian plains sometimes fall below freezing. Most of northern India is plagued by fog during this season.

The highest temperature recoded in India was 50.6 °C (123.08 °F) in Alwar in 1955. The lowest was −45 °C (−49 °F) in Kashmir. Recent claims of temperatures touching 55 °C (131 °F) in Orissa have been met with some scepticism by the Indian Meteorological Department, largely on the method of recording of such data.


Geological regions of India
Geological regions of India

India has a varied geology spanning the entire spectrum of the geological time period. India's geological features are classified based on their era of formation.

The Pre-Cambrian period formations of Cudappah and Vindhyan systems are spread out over the eastern and southern states. A small part of this period is spread over western and central India.

The Paleozoic Era formations from the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian system are found in the Western Himalaya region in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

The Mesozoic Era Deccan Traps formation is seen over most of the northern Deccan. Geologists believe that the Deccan Traps were the result of sub-aerial volcanic activity. The Trap soil is black in colour and conducive to agriculture. The Carboniferous system, Permian System, Triassic and Jurassic systems are seen in the western Himalayas. The Jurassic system is also seen in Rajasthan.

Tertiary Period imprints are seen in parts of Manipur, Nagaland, parts of Arunachal Pradesh and along the Himalayan belt. The Cretaceous system is seen in central India in the Vindhyas and part of the Indo-Gangetic plains. The Gondowana system is also seen in the Narmada River area in the Vindhyas and Satpuras. The Eocene system is seen in the western Himalayas and Assam. Oligocene formations are seen in Kutch and in Assam.

The Pleistocene system is found over central India. It is rich in minerals such as lignite, iron ore, manganese and aluminium. The Andaman and Nicobar Island groups are thought to have been formed in this era by volcanoes.

The Himalayas are a result of the convergence and deformation of the Indo-Australian and Eurasian Plates. Their continued convergence raises the height of the Himalayas by 1 cm each year.

Natural disasters

Disaster prone regions in India
Disaster prone regions in India

India is prone to several natural disasters, responsible for huge losses in life and property. Natural disasters in India include droughts; flash floods, as well as widespread and destructive flooding from monsoonal rains; severe cyclones; tsunamis; volcanic eruptions; hurricanes; landslides; avalanche; snowstorms; and earthquakes.

Floods are the most common natural disaster in India. During the monsoon season, heavy rainfall may cause rivers to distend their banks, often flooding the surrounding areas. The Brahmaputra River is prone to perennial flooding during the monsoon season. Floods are responsible for a number of deaths and property loss in many parts of India. With the exception of a few states, almost all of India is prone to flooding.

Indian agriculture is heavily dependent on the monsoon as a source of water. In some parts of India, the failure of the monsoons results in water deficiency in the region causing extensive crop losses. Drought prone regions include south Maharashtra, north Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Gujarat and Rajasthan. In the past, failure of monsoons has led to famines causing great damage.

According to earthquake hazard zoning of India, tectonic plates beneath the earth's surface are responsible for yearly earthquakes along the Himalayan belt and in northeast India. This region is classified as a Zone V, indicating that it is a very high-risk area. Parts of western India, around the Kutch region in Gujarat and Koyna in Maharashtra, are classified as a Zone IV region (high risk). Other areas have a moderate to low risk chance of an earthquake occurring.

Cyclones are another natural disaster, affecting thousands living in the coastal regions. Cyclones are severe and bring with them heavy rains that cut off supplies and relief to the affected areas. On 2004- 12-26, a tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake struck the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and India's east coast resulting in the loss of over ten thousand individuals. Until then India was thought to have negligible activity related to tsunamis, though there is historical anecdotal evidence of its occurrence in the past.

India has one active volcano: the Barren Island volcano which last erupted in May 2005. There is also a dormant volcano called the Narcondum and a Mud volcano at Baratang. All these volcanoes lie in the Andaman Islands.

Landslides are common in the Lower Himalaya owing to labile rock formations due to the young age of the hills. Parts of the Western Ghats also suffer from low intensity landslides. Avalanches occur in Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

During the summer months, dust storms cause immense property damage in northern India. These storms bring with it large amounts of dust from arid regions. Hailstones are common in parts of India, and cause severe damage to the standing crops.

International agreements

India is a party to several International agreements related to environment and climate, the most prominent among them are:

Treaties and Agreements
Specific Regions and Seas The Antarctic Treaty, Law of the Sea, Ship Pollution ( MARPOL 73/78), Whaling
Atmosphere and Climate Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol, Ozone Layer Protection, Nuclear Test Ban
Biodiversity, Environment and Forests Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Tropical Timber 83 and Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
Wastes Hazardous Wastes
Rivers Indus Waters Treaty

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