Northern Plains of India, Features, Map, States, Rivers, Importance

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The Northern Plains of India, formed by the alluvial deposits of the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra rivers, along with their tributaries, represent the second youngest physiographic region in the country, succeeding the Indian Desert.

Bounded by the Shiwalik range to the north, the Desert to the west, the Peninsular Plateau to the south, and the Purvanchal Hills to the east, these plains play a crucial role in the geographical makeup of India.

Comprising mud and sand carried by rivers such as the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra, the Northern Plains are an essential feature with significant importance. For a comprehensive understanding of the Northern Plains of India, read this informative article.

Northern Plains of India

  • The Northern Plains of India, emerging as the second-youngest physiographic region after the Indian Desert, are delineated by distinct geographical features.
  • Bounded by the Shiwalik range to the north, the Desert to the west, the Peninsular Plateau to the south, and the Purvanchal Hills to the east, these plains are shaped by the alluvial deposits of the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra river systems, along with their tributaries.
  • Stretching approximately 2400 km from west to east and 150–320 km from north to south, the Northern Plains cover an expansive area exceeding 7 lakh square kilometers.
  • Fed by the rivers’ abundant waters, these plains enjoy a favorable climate and boast fertile alluvial soil, contributing to their high population density.
  • The gentle slope of the rivers in this region facilitates a slow water flow. Ambala, situated in Haryana, marks the highest elevation at 291 meters above sea level, creating a watershed between the Ganga and Indus river systems.
  • The Northern Plains, with their ample water supply, agreeable climate, and fertile soil, serve as a vital region supporting a dense population.

Read More: All About Mahanadi River System: Tributary, Dams, Project, Industry, Facts

Ganga Plains

  • Situated between the Yamuna catchment in the west and the Bangladesh border in the east, the Ganga plains cover a vast region from the Rajmahal hills to the Meghalaya plateau.
  • This expansive area, formed by the downwarping of a section of Peninsular India, is shaped by the sedimentation of the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers.
  • Key topographical features of the Ganga plains include levees, abandoned golf courses, and distinct regions such as Bhabar, Tarai, Bhangar, and Khadar plains. 
  • The constant shifting of river courses makes the region prone to periodic floods, with the Kosi River earning the nickname “Sorrow of Bihar.” 
  • This fertile expanse is home to the northern states of Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, a part of Jharkhand, and West Bengal.
  • The Ganga-Brahmaputra delta, recognized as the largest delta globally, encompasses the tidal woods of the Sunderbans, hosting the world’s largest mangrove swamp.
  • The delta’s unique ecosystem supports diverse wildlife, including crocodiles and the Royal Tiger.

Rohilkhand Plain

  • In northwest Uttar Pradesh, the upper Ganges alluvial plain includes a low-lying alluvial tract known as Rohilkhand.
  • It spans between the Avadh Plain and the Ganga River from the west to the east.
  • Mentioned as Madhyadesh in the Mahabharata, Rohilkhand derives its name from the Rohilla tribe.
  • The Pathan highlanders, specifically the Yusufzai tribe recognized as Rohillas were associated with the region.

Awadh Plain

  • The plain lies in the central part of Uttar Pradesh and is sandwiched between Purvanchal in the east and Rohilkhand in the west.
  • Historically known as India’s granary, this region is famous for its unique cultures and cuisines.
  • Notable cities within this area include Kanpur, Rae Bareilly, and Faizabad.

Rarh Plain

  • The Rarh region is situated between the Chota Nagpur Plateau in the west and the ever-changing main flow of the Ganges River in the east.
  • The Rarh lowlands, located west of Bhagirathi-Hooghly and south of the Ganges River, are characterized by alluvial plains formed by deposits over time.
  • The primary river in this region is the Damodar, and the elevation ranges from 75 to 150 meters.
  • Rarh Plain was known for its heavy industrialization but was previously notorious for severe floods.

Chhattisgarh Plain

  • The Chhattisgarh Plain is the sole deserving plain on the peninsular plateau. It is shaped like a saucer and drained by the upper Mahanadi.
  • Enclosing it are the Chota Nagpur Plateau to the north, the Raipur Upland to the east, the Bastar Plateau to the southeast, and the Maikala Range to the west, situated between the Maikala Range and the Odisha hills.
  • Initially governed by the Haithaivanshi Rajputs, the region derived its name, Chhattisgarh, from their 36 forts.
  • The basin consists of shales and limestone arranged in nearly horizontal strata, making it known as India’s “rice bowl.”
  • Abundant coal reserves and significant amounts of iron ore, bauxite, manganese, and commercial clays have contributed to the region’s development.
  • The plain’s elevation varies from 250 meters in the east to 330 meters in the west.
  • Key commercial hubs in the area include Bhilai, Bilaspur, Raipur, Raigarh, and Durg, while emerging urban areas include Rajgarh, Korba, and Nandgaon.
Northern Plains of India
Northern Plains of India

Northern Plains of India Physiographic Divisions

Bhabar Plains

  • The Bhabar is a narrow band extending 8 to 10 km parallel to the Shiwalik foothills.
  • Streams and rivers from the mountains often vanish in this region, leaving substantial rock and boulder deposits behind.
  • The area is characterized by large trees with deep roots, making it unsuitable for cultivation.
  • The region provides building materials such as boulders.
  • Footloose businesses in the area have recently received encouragement and support.

Tarai Plains

  • South of Bhabar, the Terai is a marshy tract that comes into view.
  • The abundant natural vegetation in this region sustains a diverse range of wildlife.
  • Unfortunately, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, forests in the Terai are often cleared to make room for crops such as wheat, rice, and sugarcane.

Bhangar Plains

  • Bhangar Plains represents ancient uplands formed by alluvium deposits.
  • In this region, people refer to the calcium-rich, dark-colored alluvium as kankar.
  • Bhangar’s soil predominantly consists of clay, with occasional sandy loam findings.
  • Dry areas may exhibit saline and alkaline efflorescences known as Reh.

Khadar Plains

  • When a river is termed Khadar, its younger floodplain, alluvium, is characterized by a light color.
  •  This type of alluvium is deficient in calcareous materials.

Delta Plains

  • This area serves as an extension of the Khadar Plains.
  •  Uplands in this region are known as Chars, while the marshy terrain is called Bils.

Northern Plains of India Regional Division

Rajasthan Plains

  • This region, situated west of the Aravalis, encompasses Marusthali and the Rajasthan Bagar.
  • The area features brackish lakes resulting from past marine submergence, with Sambhar being a notable example.
  • Despite having several inland drainage systems, only the Luni River reaches the ocean.
  • Initially sweet in the upper areas, the Luni River turns salty in the lower regions.
  • Dunes and sandy terrain characterize the landscape of this region.
  • The Bagar district is located 25 cm Isohyet away from this area.
  • Bagar, a fertile semi-arid region, is drained by the Luni River in the south.

Punjab Haryana plain

  • The Punjab Plain is a vast alluvial plain situated in Eastern Pakistan and Northwestern India, covering the Pakistani province of Punjab and the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana, along with parts of Rajasthan.
  • Geographically, the plain is approximately 200–300 meters above mean sea level.
  • The region is extensively used for cultivating cereals and Wheat.
  • It constitutes the western segment of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, formed by the Indus River and its tributaries – the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej.
  • The area between two rivers, known as Doab, consists of land formed by alluvium.
  • Bhangar refers to flood plains created by the deposition of older alluvium.
  • Bet indicates flood plains formed through the repeated deposition of new alluvium during each flood.
  • These plains fall within the category of plain biomes.
  • The region’s northern half has experienced notable erosion, primarily due to small streams called Chos.

Northern Plains of India Formation

  • The northern part of the Indian Peninsula sank when the Himalayas rose in the Tethys Sea.
  • Sediments from rivers flowing from the southern peninsula and the northern mountains gradually filled this sizable basin.
  • The extensive alluvial deposits in this basin played a crucial role in shaping India’s northern plains.

Northern Plains of India Map

Northern Plains of India Map

States in the Northern Plains of India

These are the states that make up the Northern Plains in India.

  • Punjab
  • Haryana
  • Delhi
  • Uttar Pradesh
  • Bihar
  • Jharkhand
  • West Bengal
  • Assam

Three main rivers and tributaries shape the Northern Plains of India.

  1. Indus
  2.  Ganga
  3.  Brahmaputra
  • These rivers include the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the Brahmaputra.
  • Tributaries like the Yamuna, Son, Gandak, and Kosi accompany the Ganges River.
  • The Yamuna River contributes tributaries like the Chambal, Betwa, and Ken to the formation of the plains.
  • The Brahmaputra River and its tributaries, like the Subansiri, Manas, and Teesta, significantly shape the Northern Plains.

Crops Grown in Northern Plains of India

Northern Plains Agricultural Blessings

  • Fertile soil characterizes the Northern Plains, making them an agricultural haven.
  •  Diverse crops, including maize, millet, jute, sugar cane, rice, and wheat, flourish in the nutrient-rich environment.

Role of Fertile Soil in Settlement and Cultivation

  • The soil’s fertility supports robust agricultural activities and plays a crucial role in human settlement.
  • Abundant rivers and a pleasant climate make the Northern Plains ideal for habitation and cultivation.

Strategic Dam Construction for Water Management

  • Numerous dams have been strategically built in the Northern Plains for various purposes.
  • These dams act as crucial reservoirs, ensuring a consistent water supply for irrigation, a cornerstone of agricultural success.
  • Simultaneously, they harness river power for electricity generation, catering to agricultural and industrial needs.

Northern Plains of India Significance

  • Fertile soil, abundant rivers, and a favorable climate make the Northern Plains conducive to human settlement.
  • Multiple dams have been constructed for various purposes, such as irrigation and electricity generation.
  • The region holds significant social and religious importance, reflected in literature, fine art, architecture, and the sacred rivers.
  • Navigable rivers in the plains facilitate trade and commerce, ensuring smooth transit.

Northern Plains of India Features

  • The northern plains are a result of the alluvial deposits from the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra river systems and their tributaries.
  • The entire soil composition in this plain is made up of alluvial deposits.
  • The fertility of the soil makes these plains highly suitable for agriculture.
  • The region’s heavy population is attributed to abundant fertile fields and a predominantly agriculture-based economy.

Northern Plains of India FAQs

Q1: What constitutes the Northern Plains of India?

The Northern Plains are shaped by the interactions of the three central river systems—Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra—along with their tributaries, covering an expansive 7 lakh square kilometers. This densely populated physiographic division spans approximately 2400 km long and 240 to 320 km wide.

Q2: Where are the Northern Plains located in India?

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal states encompass the Northern Plains.

Q3: What are the four types of Northern Plains?

The Northern Plains are classified into four regions based on relief variations from north to south: bhabar, terai, bhangar, and khadar.

Q4: What are the distinctive features of the Northern Plains?

Formed by the alluvial deposits of significant river systems—Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra—the Northern Plains consist entirely of alluvial soil. Renowned for their fertility, these plains are highly conducive to agriculture.

Q5: What is another name for the Northern Plains?

The Northern Plains are also known as the Indo-Gangetic Plain or the North Indian Plain, extending from the Brahmaputra and Ganges delta to the Indus River valley.

Q6: Why are the Northern Plains important?

The Northern Plains’ significance lies in the rivers’ navigability, the flat terrain suitable for transportation infrastructure like roads and railways, and its excellent irrigation facilities.

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