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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Geography of India & Climate of India

India, the major portion of the Indian subcontinent, sits atop both the Indian tectonic plate and the northwestern Indo-Australian Plate. Its defining geological processes commenced seventy five million years ago, when the Indian subcontinent, then part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana, began a northeastwards drift, lasting fifty million years, across the then unformed Indian Ocean. The subcontinent's subsequent collision with the Eurasian Plate and subduction under it, gave rise to the Himalayas, the planet's highest mountains, which now abut India in the north and the north-east. Plate movement also created a vast trough in the former seabed immediately south of the Himalayas, which was subsequently filled with river-borne sediment, and became the Indo-Gangetic Plain. The original Indian plate went on to survive as pensinsular India, now the oldest and geologically most stable part of India, and extending as far north as the Vindhya Range in central India. Other important topographic features in India include, the Thar Desert, in the west, which is separated from the Indo-Gangetic Plain by the Aravalli Hills, and the peninsular Deccan plateau, which is flanked on the left and right by the coastal ranges, the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats respectively. So constituted, India lies to the north of the equator between 6°44' and 35°30' north latitude and 68°7' and 97°25' east longitude.

Major Himalayan-origin rivers that substantially flow through India include the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, and their important tributaries, the Yamuna and the Kosi, all of which drain into the Bay of Bengal. Major peninsular rivers include the Godavari, the Mahanadi, the Kaveri, and the Krishna, which also drain into the Bay of Bengal, and the Narmada and the Tapti, which drain into the Arabian Sea. Among notable coastal features of India are the marshy Rann of Kutch in western India, and the south-western part of the alluvial Sundarbans delta, which India shares with Bangladesh. India has two archipelagos: the Lakshadweep, coral atolls off India's south-western coast, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a volcanic chain in the Andaman Sea.

India's climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, both of which drive the dynamics of the monsoons. The Himalayas prevent cold Central Asian katabatic winds from blowing in, keeping the bulk of the Indian subcontinent warmer than most locations at similar latitudes. Concurrently, the Thar Desert plays a role in attracting moisture-laden southwest summer monsoon winds that, between June and October, provide the majority of India's rainfall. Four major climatic groupings predominate in India: Tropical wet, tropical dry, subtropical humid, and montane.

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