Which is the largest lagoon in India

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The territory extends from the 68th to the 98th degree of longitude east and from the eighth to the 37th degree of north latitude. India extends a maximum of 3,200 km from south to north and approx. 3,000 km from west to east. Although the country, with a population of more than one billion, is home to almost one sixth of humanity, the national territory only takes up about two percent of all global land masses.

Map of india. Photo: Eric Töpfer

India shares borders with six states. Of the more than 14,000 km of external borders, around 7,000 km are coastline. Neighboring countries (starting from the northwest in a clockwise direction) are Pakistan (2,912 km shared border) and China (3,380 km shared border), with which there are still confrontational territorial claims, especially around the mountainous region of Kashmir. In the northern section, four union states border the Himalayan state of Nepal (1,690 km shared border), which is wedged between the autonomous Chinese region of Tibet and India. Bhutan, a little further south-east, is in almost the same situation and shares a 600 km long border with India. The more than 1,400 km long border with Myanmar (Burma) in the northeast leads to the eastern border section with Bangladesh, which is surrounded by three sides of Indian territory (approx. 4,000 km common border).

Kanyakumari is the city of the same name at the southernmost point of the Indian peninsula in the state of Tamil Nadu. During the British colonial period, the southern tip was known as Cape Comorin, presumably due to the inability of the European imperialists to pronounce local names correctly. The name was derived from the Hindu mythological local goddess Kanya Devi, who is considered to be the incarnation of the goddess Parvati. Photo: Christoph S. Sprung

The slightly rounded triangular shape of the Indian peninsula protrudes into the Indian Ocean and unites it at the southernmost point with the Arabian Sea to the west and the eastern Bay of Bengal. Kanyakumari as the southernmost point of the Indian mainland is separated from Sri Lanka, a few kilometers to the east, by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait.

The Indian Union also includes some archipelagos that are administratively centrally administered as union territories. These include the Laccadives (Hindi: Lakshadweep, which means 100,000 islands) in the Arabian Sea and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which are surrounded by the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

While the border section running from the southwest to the northeast with Pakistan (on the western flank of the Indian state of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab as well as Jammu & Kashmir) was evidently subject to a political demarcation, the border lines appear in the Himalayan states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand as well Sikkim is considered "natural" because of its barriers, which are often oriented towards the watershed of the mountain glaciers.

The neighboring states of Nepal and Bhutan, which are also located on the southern slopes of the Himalayan chain, border India both in the mountains and in the foothills (Terai and Duar) and are each surrounded on three sides by Indian territory. The border demarcation between the two states in the eastern section of the Himalayas in the Union state of Arunanchal Pradesh has not yet been conclusively clarified. 1 It runs from Bhutan in a west-east direction and then further along a confusing mountainous country to the south and borders on Myanmar (Burma) on its eastern flank. This section leads through wooded mountain landscapes and separates the states of Nagaland (along the Patkai Mountains), Manipur and Mizoram from their eastern neighbors. Starting from Mirzoram northwards via Tripura, Assam and then along the southern border of Meghalaya in a westerly direction and finally again to the south, Bangladesh is almost completely bordered by Indian territory. In its western section along the Union states of Assam and West Bengal, which are also located in the flatlands, the border flows into the southern river delta (Sundarbans) of the Ganges and Brahmaputra.

Although almost 70 percent of the population live in rural areas (in approx. 638,000 villages), around 5,100 settlements are classified as urban - that is, settlements with over 10,000 inhabitants. India has over 300 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. In addition to the capital New Delhi (12.8 million inhabitants), the most important urban centers are three port cities: Mumbai on the west coast (formerly Bombay, 16.4 million) and Kolkata in Bengal (13.2 million). ), and Chennai (formerly Madras) with a population of 6.4 million in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu. In addition, the two Deccan metropolises Bengaluru (Bangalore) (approx. 5.7 million) and Hyderabad (approx. 5.5 million inhabitants) are among the largest cities in India. In addition, there are 35 so-called `` so-called '' spread all over the country with Ahmedabad, Pune, Patna, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Jaipur and others Urban areas with more than one million inhabitants (Census of India 2001).

topography

As the largest of the South Asian states, the territory of the Indian Union dominates most of the subcontinent. Its area extends from the Himalayas in the north over the north Indian lowlands, through which the Ganges flows, to the southern highlands of the Deccan, which extends almost to the southern tip of the peninsula on the Indian Ocean. Some more or less neighboring islands also belong to the Indian Union.

The Himalayas

The northern border is formed by the Himalaya (probably composed of the Sanskrit words Hi Mom: Snow, and alaya: Stay / place), the highest mountains on earth. Earthquakes and landslides often occur in the mountain ranges that are geologically referred to as young, which were formed in the Tertiary over the last 65 million years, due to the constant pressure with which the subcontinental plate pushes itself under the Eurasian plate.

While the Kanchenjunga on the border between Sikkim and Nepal is India's highest and world's third highest mountain at 8,586 meters, the Nanda Devi in ​​Uttarakhand at 7,816 meters is the highest mountain that stands entirely on Indian soil. His (raised) face is shown here on the 100 rupee note. Photo: Christoph S. Sprung

The mountains are divided into the Outer Himalayas (especially the Shivalik Mountains), the Lower (or Front) and the Great Himalayas, which are mostly covered by glaciers.

Together, the mountain ranges extend over a length of more than 2,500 km and reach a width between 200 and 400 kilometers. The mountain ranges delimit the subcontinent from the northern high plateau of Tibet. With the exception of Ladakh in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, no area beyond the Himalayan mountain ranges is part of the Indian national territory.

Mountains connected to the Himalayas

In addition, various regional mountain ranges run parallel to the Himalayas, particularly in the northwest of the country, where the mountains of Zanskar, Ladakh and the Karakoram in Jammu & Kashmir run northeast to the Great Himalayas. The Pir Panjal Range also runs through the southern part of the Union State, forming the southwestern extension of the Great Himalayas, the western and southern flanks of the high valley of Kashmir.

Dusk over the pilgrimage site of Katra in the Pir Panjal Mountains in the southern part of the Union state of Jammu & Kashmir. Photo: Christoph S. Sprung

At the eastern end of the Himalayas run several smaller mountains that run from northeast to south. These include the heavily forested mountains of Patkai, Naga and Mizo. These follow the Indo-Burmese border and delimit the southeastern strip of land in Bangladesh. Almost all mountains in the region extend from the Naga Hills and the reed Logtak Lake in the Manipur River Valley. The Mikir Mountains lead in an east-west direction and the Jaintia, Khasi and Garo Mountains to the west. The latter run parallel to the border with Bangladesh. In summary, these mountains are also known as the Shillong (or Meghalaya) plateau.

The northern lowlands

The fertile and densely populated North Indian lowlands - which often includes the Indus plain, which is largely located in Pakistan - is another characteristic and structural component of the topography and landscape zones of the subcontinent. It is divided into the Ganges plain, which lies between the Himalayas and the Deccan, and the Brahmaputra plain, which is also south of the Himalayas and which mainly characterizes the lowlands of Assam and the lowlands of Bangladesh.

Ganges plain

The watershed that separates the Ganges from the Indus system runs a little west of Delhi. As a former seabed, the Ganges plain is mainly filled with sediments by the rivers from the Himalayas, some of which are up to 2,000 meters deep. Together with the foothills of the Indus Plain, it extends from the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Sindh in the west to the east via the Indian Union states of Punjab and Haryana (with Delhi) to the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges Basin. mainly in the union states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar forms the central part of the plain. In the eastern section, the delta is formed by the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. It flows partly in the state of West Bengal - but mainly in Bangladesh - in the Bay of Bengal. The land in the delta is regularly hit by floods during the monsoons.

The Great Indian Desert (also Thar Desert) forms an important extension of the Indian lowlands or its western boundary. The desert is mainly located in the state of Rajasthan, but its foothills also extend to Pakistan. The slightly hilly terrain is characterized by sand dunes and numerous isolated mountains.

Brahmaputra Plain

The 2,900 km long Brahmaputra, which is more than 200 km longer than the Ganges, already crosses 1,500 km of Tibetan territory from its source, where it is known as Tsang-Po. Due to its breakthrough in the south in the Dihang gorges it reaches Indian territory and flows through the states of Arunanchal Pradesh and Assam, from where it flows on to Bangladesh and unites as Yamuna with the Ganges (Padma there).

Despite numerous technical measures, the river is difficult to “tame” and thus hardly usable for commercial river navigation. Frequent floods cause great economic damage. The width of the river bed can sometimes be more than a kilometer even without flooding.

The Deccan Plateau

Deccan landscape in southern Karnataka, north of the Kaveri River. Photo: Christoph S. Sprung

A significant part of India lies between the Arabian Sea in the west and the Bay of Bengal in the east. The Vindhya Mountains in the north are generally used as the dividing line between Hindustan (northern India) and the Deccan plateau (derived from the Sanskrit word dakshina: South), which makes up the majority of the peninsula with around 1.4 million square kilometers. Once part of the ancient continent Gondwanaland, this country is geologically considered to be the oldest part of India. The plateau averages between 300 and 1,000 meters above sea level, slopes down in an easterly direction and is traversed by the great rivers Narmada, Mahanadi, Godavari and Krishna. A number of eroded mountain ranges bear witness to the geological past of this area.

The Western Ghats

The so-called western or western ghats (also Sahyadri) extend on the western flank of the Dekkan, which in some places reach heights of over 2,500 m above sea level. d. M. reach. They consist of a series of mountain ranges that rise abruptly from the coastal plains.

These mountain ranges reach greater heights in the south (near the Nilgiri, Anaimalai, Palni and Cardamom mountains; Anai Peak in Kerala is the highest mountain at 2,695 m). The West Ghats extend to the southern tip of India.

Large amounts of precipitation favor a varied and species-rich flora and fauna. In addition, with the Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri (Cauvery) some large rivers have their sources here.

The Eastern Ghats

The Eastern or Eastern Ghats are a series of irregular and rather lower mountain ranges that extend from the south parallel to the coastline of the Bay of Bengal in a north-easterly direction to the state of Orissa. The largest contiguous part is in the Dandakaranya region between the Mahanadi and Godavari rivers. In this section, the mountains also rise to the highest point on the east side: the one at almost 2,000 meters above sea level. high Arma Konda in Andhra Pradesh.

South of the Krishna River. The East Ghats continue as some lower mountain ranges. These include the Erramala, Nallamala, Velikonda and Palkonda mountains. South of Chennai (in Tamil Nadu) the East Ghats continue as the Javadi and Shevaroy Mountains and ultimately unite with the West Ghats.

The interior

The northern parts of the Dekkan Plateau form in a way the foothills of the peninsula. These large, imprecisely definable areas lie between the peninsula in the south, the Ganges plain and the Great Indian Desert in the north.

The Aravalli Mountains run from a highland near Ahmedabad in Gujarat from the southwest in a northeast direction to Delhi. The geographically very old mountain range is divided into several sections. The highest peak is the Guru Sikhar (almost 2,000 m asl) at Mount Abu in southern Rajasthan.

The mountains divert the westward flowing rivers south into the desert or the Rann of Kachchh (Kutch). However, the Chambal and its tributaries run northward into the plain, where they unite with the Yamuna River.

The fertile Malwa Plateau lies between the Aravalli and Vindhya Mountains. It extends south to the Vindhya Mountains, which are separated from the Satpura Mountains by the Narmada Valley. The Narmada Valley forms the western and actual part of the 1,200 km long Narmada Son Valley, which runs from east to west, where near the city of Surat (in Gujarat) the river flows into the Gulf of Khambhat.

In the eastern section of the foothills of the peninsula lies the mineral-rich region of the plateau of Chota Nagpur, which extends over parts of the Union states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa. It is an area of ​​numerous steep slopes that subdivide the scree areas. In the southwest of the hilly Chota Nagpurs there is the plain of Chhattisgarh, which is located on the upper reaches of the Mahanadi River.

Most of the areas of the hinterland south of the foothills of the peninsula and Chota Nagpurs are characterized by the scree of a mountainous and not very varied terrain.

Most of the north-western section of the peninsula (in the Union states of Maharashtra and the bordering regions of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka) forms the actual lava plateau of the Deccan.

Coastal areas and islands

Much of the Indian coastal area is bounded by the ghats. This does not apply to the peninsulas on the northwestern coastline, which includes the peninsulas of the salt marshes of Kathiawar (Saurashtra) and Kachchh and the areas around the Gulf of Khambhat (Cambay) in the state of Gujarat.

The Konkan Coast in Maharashtra (Sindhudurg District). Photo: Christoph S. Sprung

The marshes of the Great Rann of Kachchh along the border with Pakistan and the Little Rann of Kachchh are areas that are shaped by the tides. These transform the Kachchh peninsula into an island for several months during the rainy season.

The coastal strip further south (from Gujarat via Maharashtra to Goa) is known as the Konkan Coast. It is characterized by numerous river valleys and plains along the river banks that extend far inland.

The coast from Goa via the Union states of Karnataka and Kerala to the southern tip of the subcontinent in Tamil Nadu is known as the Malabar coast. This coastal plain, which reaches a width of 20 to 100 km, was created by alluvial sediments. It is characterized by numerous lagoons, brackish water and especially in Kerala by the navigable canal system, the so-called backwaters.

The east coast consists mainly of sediments and is much wider than the western one. The mouths of the Kaveri, Krishna-Godavari, Mahanadi and above all the more than 350 km wide delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra significantly shape the east coast. There are also some lagoons on this coast that were created by washed-up sediments. For example, the Chilika Lake in Orissa, which is considered the largest lagoon in Asia, is one of them.

In addition, various archipelagos in the Indian Ocean also belong politically to India. This includes the union area of ​​the Laccadive Islands. They are a group of smaller coral atolls in the Arabian Sea west of the Malabar coast.

Several thousand kilometers from the east coast, between the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, lies the union area of ​​the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The slightly larger islands of the Andaman Islands are closer to the coast to Myanmar and the Nicobar Islands are closer to Indonesia than to the Indian mainland.

climate

In a region with such extreme differences in altitude there is an enormous climatic range: The glacier areas of the high mountain ranges in the Himalayas are among the coldest places on earth, while the southern peninsula has a tropical climate.

The monsoon climate in India (and most of the subcontinent) is considered a distinct example of this annual recurring weather spectacle. The dry and wet season of the monsoon system and the seasonal temperature fluctuations cause three climatic periods in most parts of the country: (1.) The hot and dry period begins from March to mid-June (during which it gradually changes in the higher atmospheric layers collects more moisture), which then brings the longed-for downpours in the (2nd) hot and humid monsoon season from around mid-June to the end of September (in which usually more than three quarters of the total annual rainfall falls) and the (3rd) cooler and dry weather from the beginning of October to mid-February follows.

The actual change of seasons can shift by several weeks and thus vary not only between one part of the country and another, but also from year to year. Regional differences, which are often considerable, result from a number of geographical aspects, such as different altitudes or proximity to water. Agriculture, which is often completely dependent on the monsoons, depends on it raining enough - but not too much either - as floods are also devastating.

In connection with the pre-monsoon season and the post-rainy season, tropical cyclones often occur, which develop over both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. With speeds of over 160 kilometers per hour, they cause enormous downpours, extreme winds and tidal waves on the coasts. Especially the coastal areas of the Union states Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal are regularly hit by cyclones.

Most of the rain across the country pours in the village of Cherrapunji, which is about 50 km southwest of Shillong, the capital of the northeastern Union state of Meghalaya. With an average annual rainfall of over 10,000 mm, Cherrapunji is the second rainiest place on earth. In some districts of Rajasthan, in the Aravalli Mountains, there is sometimes no rainfall at all for years.

The warmest temperatures are measured in May or June (in the so-called pre-monsoon heat), which are lowered again by the southwest monsoon with its usually constant showers. But even the transition period after the clouds have moved in September or October can still cause extreme heat in some places. In recent years, temperatures of around 50 degrees Celsius have been measured in various Union states during heat waves - in contrast to reports from northern India, where temperatures even around freezing point prevail in winter.

Clouds from the plains usually only manage to penetrate the foothills of the Himalayas and already rain out there. Photo: Christoph S. Sprung

The deep Indian south is less contrasting in terms of temperature fluctuations; In Kerala's capital, for example, there is Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), hardly more than two and a half degrees difference - with an average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. This is in stark contrast, for example, to Ambala (in the northern state of Haryana), where an average of 13 degrees Celsius is measured in winter while the thermometer hardly shows below 33 degrees in June.

Since the mountain climate is relatively moderate, especially on the southern slopes of the Himalayas, many wealthy people - especially from the neighboring Union states, where temperatures can often be over 40 degrees - visit the so-called "Hill Stations" looking to cool down. 2 But also in the Western Ghats there are numerous "Hill Stations" such as Ooty or Kodaikanal (both in Tamil Nadu) for the same reasons.

In the higher elevations of the Himalayan mountain world, completely different climatic conditions apply, which can also vary from valley to valley. The snowy passes from Himachal Pradesh to Ladakh are often only passable for a few weeks (usually from the beginning of July to the end of September). The higher places in Uttaranchal can also only be reached temporarily (from the beginning of May to mid-October), while in Sikkim and Arunanchal Pradesh they can usually be reached all year round.

Remarks

[1] We are talking about the so-called McMahon line. This almost 900 km (550 miles) long demarcation line, which was planned as a buffer zone by the then head of administration Sir Henry McMahon in 1914, was intended to delimit the British sphere of influence in South Asia on the northeast flank. However, during a conference in Shimla in northern India that same year, only Tibetan representatives agreed to this demarcation; the Chinese side, who was also present, did not agree. How controversial this border line between China and India remained after the withdrawal of the colonial power became apparent as early as the late 1950s and finally in 1962 when war broke out between the two neighboring countries. The one that runs from Bhutan to Myanmar (Burma) Line of Actual Control, which is also the northern flank of the Indian Union state of Arunanchal Pradesh, founded in 1987, is still not recognized by the People's Republic of China and large parts of the area are claimed.

[2] Manali, Shimla, Dalhousie (in Himalchal Pradesh), Darjeeling (in West Bengal), Mussoorie and Nainital (in Uttarakhand) owe their fame to this custom as a remnant of the English colonial rulers.