The term 'Physiography' is alies of 'Physical Geography'. This generally means a description about the surface features of earth. Mountain ranges and hills, plain lands, grasslands, seas and oceans, forests, and all others are included in the study of physiography. This is a fundamental section of geography. Basically, a physiographic province refers to a broad geographic region with some specific characteristics of geomorphology, subsurface, and structural elements.


Physiographic Divisions of India

India having a wide variation of physiography, from east to west and north to south. Presence of almost all types of physiographic provinces can be observed in this country. On the basis of tectonic history, rock and soil stratigraphy, variation of relief characteristics, India has been divided into five major as well as broad physiographic divisions.
  1. The Northern Mountain Region,
  2. The Great Plain of North India,
  3. The Peninsular Plateau Region/ Peninsular Upland,
  4. The Costal Plain,
  5. The Islands of India.

These physiographic divisions of India are briefly discussed in the following paragraphs:

Physiographic Divisions of India
'Physiographic Divisions of India' | Image Source - Google | Image by - Wikipedia

The Northern Mountain Region

India is rich in physiographic characteristics. The aforementioned physiographic divisions are covering all over India. About 70 million years ago, the Himalayan mountain ranges were formed from the Tethys Sea due to the collision between Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates. Needless to say that this is the highest, as well as youngest folded mountain ranges in the world. It is separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. Setting in from Jammu and Kashmir in the north-west, upto Arunachal Pradesh in the east, the Himalayas are spanning also within the following administrative divisions of India, viz., Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and northern part of West Bengal. This physiographic division consists of three parallel ranges of the Himalayas, namely :
  1. The Greater Himalayas or Himadri,
  2. The Lesser Himalayas or Himachal,
  3. The Outer Himalayas or Siwaliks.
These are collectively forming the Northern Mountain Region of India.

The Great Plain of North India

From Gangotri Glacier of the western Himalayas, in the state of Uttarakhand, the Ganges has originated and flows through the northern India, and Bangladesh, then eventually has merged with Bay of Bengal. The Ganges is the main artisan of the Great Plain of North India, or the Gangetic Plain, as it is generally called. Its left side tributaries, e.g. Ramganga, Gomti, Garra, Ghaghara, Gandak, Koshi, Mahananda, etc., and right side tributaries, e.g. Yamuna, Son, Punpun, Tamsa, Damodar, etc. collectively forming the plain region.

The Brahmaputra also plays an important role to develop the plain region in eastern India. It has originated from Bhagirath Glacier in the Manasarovar Lake region, near the Mount Kailash. Flowing through Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam, finally it has merged with the Padma in Bangladesh and emptied into the Bay of Bengal.


It is important to note that, the Thar Desert of Rajasthan is also included to the Great Plain of North India. This plain consists of arid and semi-arid region, whereas the Gangetic Plain is humid in nature. It does not matter whether the region is arid or semi-arid, or humid, rather it documents the plain land surface of the vast region.

The Peninsular Plateau Region/ Peninsular Upland

The Peninsular Plateau, also known as Deccan Plateau, is the vast triangular region of south India. It was formed due to the massive volcanic eruption at the end of the Cretaceous period, 66 or 67 million years ago. The volcanic basalt beds developed this plateau or upland region. This physiographic division is situated between the Eastern Ghat Mountain Ranges and Western Ghat Mountain Ranges. It covers major parts of Gujrat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chattisgarh, Odisha. Sometimes the Peninsular Plateau physiography is divided into two sub-parts :
  1. North Indian Peninsular Plateau,
  2. South Indian Peninsular Plateau.
This is the main as well as largest physiographic division of Indian subcontinent.

The Costal Plain

Southern part of Indian subcontinent is bound with seas and ocean. Arabian Sea is in the west, Bay of Bengal is in the east, and Indian Ocean is in the south. Along the outer edge of peninsular plateau, the Coastal Plain physiography has developed, stretched through the aforementioned seas and ocean. Basically this physiographic division is classified into two broad groupings as :
  1. The Western Coastal Plain,
  2. The Eastern Coastal Plain.

The Islands of India

Lastly the smallest physiographic divsion of  India includes the islands. Islands of India are mainly distributed in Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. There are near about 1208 islands in India, including the uninhabitated ones. The famous known two islands of India are Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep.

These five major physiographic divisions have made India variegated and exuberant. It is also important to note that, not only diversified, but India's each physiographic division co-operate with each other to make a strong control over the Indian climate along with flora and fauna.

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