The physiographic division of India and the Northern Mountains

Physiographic divisions of India: India is the seventh largest country in the world with an area of 32,87,263 sq. km. (2.4% of the total geographical area on the Earth). It is situated entirely in the northern hemisphere. The longest distance between north to south is 3214 km and from east to west is 2933 km. India has a land frontier of 15,200 km and a coastline of 7,516.6 km (including islands and coastlines).

The physiographic division of India and its neighborhood countries
India and its neighboring countries

India extends from the snow-covered Himalayas in the north to sun-burst coastal villages of the south and a very highly fertile land in the Brahmaputra Valley in the east to the desert in the west.

Srilanka is separated from India by a narrow channel of sea formed by the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar. The Maldives are situated to the south of the Lakshadweep Islands.

Boundary Lines:

  • Durand Line – Pakistan and Afghanistan
  • Mac Mohan Line – India and China
  • Radcliff Line – India and Pakistan
The total land mass percentage of the physiographic division of India in Pie Chart
Total Land mass percentage of the physiographic divisions of India

Physiographic Divisions of India:

On the basis of physiography, there are six physiographic divisions of India.

  1. The Himalayan Mountains/ Northern Mountains
  2. The Northern Plains
  3. The Desert
  4. Peninsular Plateau
  5. Coastal Plains
  6. The Islands


The six physiographic divisions of India
Physiographic Divisions of India

1. The Northern/Himalayan Mountains:

Mountain is one of the important physiographic divisions of India. Northern mountain systems are one of the youngest of Fold Mountains in the world. They are the highest mountain ranges in the world. They have the highest peaks, deep valleys, glaciers etc.

The northern mountain is divided into three parts, called –

  • 1.1. The Himalayas
  • 1.2. The trans-Himalayas
  • 1.3. The Purvanchal Hills

1.1. The Himalayas:

The Himalayan Mountains extended over 2500 km from Pamir Knot in the west to the Purvanchal in the east.

There are three parallel ranges in the Himalayas.

  • (a) Himadri or the Greater Himalayas
  • (b) Himachal or the Lesser Himalayas
  • (c) Siwaliks or the Outer Himalayas
The Himalayas of the Northern Mountain of India
The Himalayas of the Northern Mountain Range
(a) Himadri or the Greater Himalayas:
  • Greater Himalayas or Himadri or Himagiri comprises all major mountain ranges of the Himalayas. The average height of these mountains is 6000 m and average width is around 120 – 190 km.
  • Mount Everest (8850 m) – the highest peak in the world, Mt. Kanchenjunga (8586 m), Mt. Makalu (8481 m), Mt. Dhaulagiri (8172 m) are some of the important peaks of this mountain range.
  • The Ganga and the Yamuna, two rivers originate from this Himalaya.
(b) Himachal or the Lesser Himalayas:
  • Lesser Himalayas or Middle Himalayas or Himachal is the middle section of the vast Himalaya Mountain.
  • The range lies between the Great Himalayas to the northeast and Siwalik range to the southeast. The average height of this area is 3700 – 4500 m.
  • Himachal extended for some 2,500 km northeast to southeast across the northern limit of the Indian subcontinent.
  • Areas included Nepal, Bhutan, Kashmir, Indian states of Himachal, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.
  • Pirpangal, Nag tibba, Dhauladhar are some of the important ranges.

Hill Resort: Simla, Ranikhet, Nainital, Darjeeling etc.

Famous ValleyKulu, Kashmir, Kangra etc.

(c) Siwaliks or Outer Himalayas:
  • Siwalik ranges are the southern-most hills of the Himalayas. It is separated from the Lesser Himalayas at some places by flat-bottomed Valleys.
  • The ancient name of this range was UPGIRI’.
  • The Outer Himalayas makes almost a continuous chain of more than 2400 km from the Indus gorge in the northwest to the Brahmaputra in Assam.
  • The width if Siwaliks is 10 – 15 km and the height seldom exceeds 1300 km.
  • Valleys between Siwaliks and Himachal are called ‘Duns‘, like Dehradun, Kotli Dun, Patli Dun.


1.2. Trans Himalayas:

This Mountain range situated to the north of the great Himalayas. It includes Karakoram, Zanskar, Ladakh, and Kailash mountain ranges.  Most of the part of these ranges lies in Tibet, so the trans-Himalayas region also called Tibet Himalayan region.

The Trans Himalayas of the physiographic division of India
The Northern Mountains – Trans Himalayas
Karakoram Range:
  • This mountain range extends across the borders of India, Pakistan, and China. The northwest extremity of this range extends to Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
  • The average width of this range is 120 – 140 km. Most peaks hardly ever fall below 5,500 m. Some of the peaks are more than 8,000 m above sea level.
  • Four highest peaks (each over 8000 meters height), named K2 (second highest peak in the world), Gasherbrum-l, Gasherbrum-ll, and Broad Peak are situated very closely.
  • K2 is the 2nd highest peak in the world & the highest in India. It is also known as Godwin Austin.
  • This range is the most heavily glaciated part of the world except the polar regions. The Siachen glacier and Biafo Glacier are respectively the second and third longest glaciers in the world outside the polar regions.

Important peaks:

  • K2 or Godwin Austin (8,611 m)
  • Gasherbrum l (8,080 m)
  • Gasherbrum ll (8,035 m)
  • Broad peak (8,051 m)
  • Batura l (7,795 m)
Ladakh Range:
  • This part of the Trans Himalayan Ranges lies to the north of the Leh.
  • This range merges with the Kailash range in Tibet.
Zanskar Range:
  • This part of Trans Himalayas is situated in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The average height is about 6000 m.
  • This range separates Zanskar from Ladakh.
  • Zanskar range extends southeast from the Suru river to the upper Karnali river.
Kailash Mountain Range:
  • Kailash range is one of the highest and most rugged parts of the Trans Himalayas. It is located in the southwestern part of the Tibet.
  • Mount Kailash is an important holy site for both Hindus and Buddhist.


1.3. Purvanchal Hills:

Purvanchal range is the eastern part of the Himalayan Mountain system. This mountain range covers the states of Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Mizoram. The Purvanchal range includes the hill ranges of Barail Range, Patkai Range, Naga Hills, Mishmi Hill, Abor Hill, etc.

The Purvanchal Hills of the Northern Mountain
The Northern Mountains – Purvanchal Hills


  • Naga Hills located in India extending into Myanmar. It forms a divide between India and Myanmar.
  • Garo Hills located in Meghalaya and it is considered as one of the wettest places on the Earth.


This is a glimpse of the first physiographic division of India, i.e. the Northern Mountain or Himalayan Mountain.

So in this post, we discuss the physiographic divisions of India and the Northern MountainsThis post will be updated very soon in an elaborative way which will include previous year questions came in UPSC, SSC-CGL, WBCS etc.

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