Indo-Gangetic Plain – Northern Plains of India

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  • Indo-Gangetic plain lies to the south of the Shissalik mountain separated by the Himalayan Front Fault (HFF).
  • Indo-Gangetic plain also known as Northern plains of India or Great plain of India.
  • It is a transitional zone between the Himalayas of the north and Peninsular India
  • Indo-Gangetic-Brahmaputra Plain is the largest alluvial tract of the world.
  • It stretches for about 3,200 km from the mouth of the Indus to the mouth of the Ganga.
  • Indian sector of the plain accounts for 2,400 km.
  • The western boarder is marked by Sulaiman and Kirthar ranges.
  • On the eastern side, the plains are bordered by Purvanchal hills.
  • Average elevation of the Northern plains of India is about 200 m above mean sea level.

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indo gangetic plain northern plains of india

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Formation of the Indo-Gangetic plain

  • The rivers which were previously flowing into Tethys sea deposited huge amount of sediments in the Tethys Geosyncline.
  • Himalayas are formed out of these sediments which were uplifted, folded and compressed due to northern movement of Indian Plate.
  • Northern movement of Indian Plate also created a trough to the south of Himalayas.

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Depositional Activity

  • During the initial stages of upliftment of sediments, the already existing rivers changed their course several times
  • Rivers also rejuvenated each time for that reason.
  • Headward erosion and vertical erosion of the river valley contributed huge amount of sediments.
  • These sediments were deposited in the depression between peninsular India and the convergent boundary.

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New Rivers and more Alluvium

  • The raising of Himalayas and subsequent formation of glaciers gave rise to many new rivers.
  • These rivers along with glacial erosion supplied more alluvium.
  • Those alluvium intensified the filling of the depression.
  • With the accumulation of more and more sediments, the Tethys sea started receding.
  • With passage of the time, the depression was completely filled with alluvium, gravel, rock debris.
  • The Tethys completely disappeared leaving behind a monotonous aggradation plain.
  • Upper peninsula rivers have also contributed to the formation of plains, but to a very small extent.
  • Since few million years, depositional work of three major river systems, The Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra have become predominant.

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bhangar bhabar

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Division as per Soil Types

Bhabar Soil Region

  • The Bhabar soil region is a narrow, porous, northern most stretch of Indo-Gangetic plain.
  • It is about 8-16 km wide along the foothills of the Shiwaliks.
  • Bhabar show a remarkable continuity from the Indus to the Tista.
  • Porosity of bhabar is unique feature, due to deposition of huge number of pebbles and rocks.
  • The streams disappear once they reach the bhabar region because of this porosity.
  • The area is not suitable for agriculture and only big trees with large roots thrive in this belt.

 

Terai Region

  • Terai region is an ill-drained, damp (marshy) and thickly forested narrow tract
  • It is located to the south of Bhabar running parallel to it.
  • The Terai is about 15-30 km wide.
  • The underground streams of the Bhabar belt re-emerge in the Terai Region.
  • This thickly forested region provides shelter to a variety of wild life.
  • Terai region is wider in the eastern part because of higher amount of rainfall.
  • Most of the Terai land, especially in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, has been turned into agricultural land.
  • This Terai land gives good crops of sugarcane, rice and wheat.

 

Bhangar Region

  • The Bhangar is the older alluvium along the river beds of Indo-Gangetic plain.
  • It forms terraces higher than the flood plain.
  • Bhangar contains concretions and nodules of impure calcium carbonate known as ‘Kankar’.
  • It contains fossils of animals like rhinoceros, hippopotamus, elephants, etc.
  • The Barind plains in the delta region of Bengal is a part of Bhangar region.
  • The Bhur formations in the middle Ganga and Yamuna doab are regional variations of Bhangar.

 

Bhur

  • Bhur denotes an elevated piece of land situated along the banks of the Ganga river
  • It developed mainly in the upper Ganga-Yamuna Doab.
  • This has been formed due to accumulation of windblown sands during the hot dry months of the year

 

Khadar Region

  • The Khadar is composed of newer alluvium and forms the flood plains along the river banks.
  • A new layer of alluvium is deposited by river flood almost every year.
  • The Khadar is the most fertile soils of Indo-Gangetic plain.
  • In Punjab, the Khadar rich flood plains are locally known as Betlands or Bets.

 

Reh or Kollar

  • Reh or Kollar comprises saline efflorescence of drier areas in Haryana.
  • Reh areas have spread in recent times with increase in irrigation.
  • The capillary action brings the underground salts to the surface.

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Indo-Gangetic Plain  northern plains of india

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West to East Division of Indo-Gangetic Plain

  • Sindh Plain
  • Rajasthan Plain
  • Punjab Plain
  • Gangetic Plains
    • Upper Gangetic Plain
    • Middle Gangetic Plain
    • Lower Gangetic Plain
  • Ganga – Brahmaputra Delta
  • Brahmaputra Plain

 

Sindh Plain

  • Sindh Plain is mainly formed of Bhangar Plains by Indus and its tributaries.
  • Dhors is long narrow depressions which are the remnants of the course of former rivers.
  • Dhand is alkaline lakes on some dhors.

 

Rajasthan Plain

  • Rajasthan plain occupied by Thar or the Great Indian Desert.
  • This plain is an wave like plain whose average elevation is about 325 m.
  • The desert region is called Marusthali and forms a greater part of the Marwar plain.
  • Geologically it is a part of the Peninsular Plateau.
  • It has a few outcrops of gneisses, schists and granites.
  • Rajasthan plain is only at the surface that it looks like an aggradation plain.
  • In general, the eastern part of the Marusthali is rocky while its western part is covered by shifting sand dunes
  • Eastern part of the Thar Desert up to the Aravali Range is a semi-arid plain known as Rajasthan Bagar.
  • It is drained by a number of short seasonal streams originating from the Aravali.
  • Luni is an important seasonal stream
  • The tract north of the Luni is known as thali or sandy plain.
  • North of the Luni, there is inland drainage having several saline lakes.
  • Sambhar, Didwana, Degana, Kuchaman are some of the important lakes in the Rajasthan plain.
  • The largest is the Sambhar lake near Jaipur.

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Punjab-Haryana Plain

  • Punjab-Haryana plain  is formed by five important rivers of Indus system.
  • The plain is primarily made up of ‘doabs’ – the land between two rivers.
  • Punjab means “The Land of Five Rivers” referring to the following rivers: the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas.
  • The eastern boundary of Punjab Haryana plain is marked by subsurface Delhi-Aravali ridge.
  • Northern part of this plain near Shiwalik hills has been intensively eroded by numerous streams called Chos landform.
  • The only river between the Yamuna and the Satluj is the Ghaggar.
  • The Ghaggar is considered to be the present day Successor of the legendary Saraswati River.
  • The Punjab-Haryana Plains may be divided into
    • Bari Doab between the Beas and Ravi
    • Bist Doab between the Beas and Satluj
    • Malwa Plain the central part of the region
    • HariyanaBhiwani Bagar in the southern and south-eastern parts of the region.

 

 

Gangetic Plains

  • Ganga PIain lie between the Yamuna catchment in the west to the Bangladesh border in the east.
  • The Ganga along with its large number of tributaries originating in the Himalayans
  • Those rives have brought large quantities of alluvium from the mountains and deposited it here to build this extensive plain.
  • The peninsular rivers such as Chambal, Betwa, Ken, Son, etc. joining the Ganga river system.
  • General slope of the entire plain is to the east and south east.
  • Rivers flow sluggishly in the lower sections of Ganges.
  • As a result the area is marked by local prominences such as levees, bluffs, oxbow lakes, marshes, ravines, etc.
  • Almost all the rivers keep on shifting their courses making this area prone to frequent floods.
  • The Kosi river is very notorious in this respect. It has long been called the ‘Sorrow of Bihar’.

 

Upper Gangetic Plain

  • It includes the GangaYatnuna doab, Rohilkhand Division and parts of the Agra Division.
  • The catchment area of the Yamuna river makes its western boundary
  • In addition to Ganga and the Yamuna, it is traversed by the Kali and Sharda rivers.
  • A unique feature of the Upper Gangetic Plain is the presence of Bhur

 

Middle Gangetic Plain

  • It includes central and eastern Uttar Pradesh, and the Bihar Plains up to Muzaffarpur and Patna.
  • It has thick alluvial deposits with less Kankar formation.

 

Lower Gangetic Plain

  • Lower Gangetic Plain extends from Patna in the west, the foot of Darjeeling Himalaya in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south.
  • It is bordered by Assam and Bangladesh in the cast and the Chotanagpur Plateau in the west.
  • In the lower part of the Lower Ganga Plain is Sundarban delta.
  • The plain has a monotonous surface.
  • The Lower Gangetic Plain is the divider between between Rajmahal Hills of Peninsular India and the Meghalaya Plateau
  • It formed by subsequent sedimentation by the Ganga and the Brahmaputra rivers.

 

Rahr Plain

  • It lying to the east of the Chotanagpur Plateau, it is a part of the Lower Gangetic Plains.
  • Drained by the Damodar and Subarnarekha river.
  • It covered by the lateritic-alluvium soils
  • Soil erosion is the main problem of the Rahr plain region.
  • Rice, maize and pulses are the main crops here.

 

 

Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta or Sundarban Delta

  • Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta or Ganges delta is the largest delta in the world.
  • The Ganga river divides itself into several channels in the delta area.
  • Ganges delta is studded with a large number of estuaries, mud flats, mangrove swamps, sandbanks, islands and forelands.
  • Large part of the coastal delta is a part of Sundarban delta and  covered by tidal forests.

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sundarban delta
Sundarban Delta

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Sundarban Delta

  • Sundarban is the largest mangrove swamp in the world.
  • Sundarhans gets its name from the Sundari tree (Heritiera fomes) which grows well in marshland.
  • Mangrove forest covers an area of about 10,000 km2
  • In West Bengal, they extend over 4,260 km2 across South 24 and North 24 Pargana district.
  • Sundarban deltaIt is a UNESCO World Heritage site, inscribed in 1987
  • In 2019, it has been designated as a Ramsar site.
  • It is considered as a World Network of Biosphere Reserve from 2001.

 

Brahmaputra Plain

  • Brahmaputra plain is also known as Assam Valley
  • Most of the Brahmaputra valley is situated in Assam.
  • Its western boundary is formed by the Indo-Bangladesh border as well as the boundary of the lower Ganga Plain.
  • Its eastern boundary is formed by Purvanchal hills.
  • Tributaries of the Brahmaputra river coming from the north form a number of alluvial fans.
  • Tributaries branch out in many channels giving birth to river meandering leading to formation of bill and ox-bow lakes.
  • There are large marshy tracts in this area.
  • Manas, Kaziranga, Orang National Parks are located in this area.
  • The alluvial fans formed by the coarse alluvial debris have led to the formation of terai or semi-terai conditions with dense forest
  • Brahmaputra plains have numerous islands.
  • Majuli (area 930 sq km) is the largest river island of the world and country’s first river island district.

 

 

Significance of the Northern Plains of India

  • Northern plains of india is one fourth of the land of the country, hosts half of the Indian population.
  • Fertile alluvial soils, flat surface, slow moving perennial rivers and favorable climate facilitate intense agricultural activity.
  • Use of irrigation has made Punjab, Haryana and western part of Uttar Pradesh the granary of India (Prairies- granaries of the world).
  • The entire Indo-Gangetic plain except the Thar Desert, has a close network of roads and railways.
  • Indo-Gangetic plain has led to large scale industrialization and urbanization.
  • There are many religious places along the banks of the sacred rivers like the Ganga and the Yamuna.
  • Those are very dear to Hindus.
  • Here flourished the religions of Budha and Mahavira and movements of Bhakti and Sufism

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