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Indian Geography / Physiography

The Great Northern Plains of India


    The Great Northern Plains of India were formed less than 1.5 million years back. They are either flat or gently sloping in nature. These plains were formed due to deposition of sediments that were brought down by the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra rivers and their tributaries. Some geologists propose that there was geosynclinal trough between the Himalayas and the Deccan plateau which was filled by these sediments.

    • Sometimes Great Northern Plains is called "Foredeep". Depth of alluvial lands of Great Northern Plains is around 400-1400 m. These are the largest depth plains in the world.
    • These plains are continuously drained by the large river systems of Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra. River Indus and its tributaries cover Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Western Rajasthan. River Ganges and its tributaries cover Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. River Brahmaputra covers Assam.
    • Doab is very important feature of Great Northern Plains. Doab is a small upland area separating adjacent river valleys or streams and acts as a barrier. Doabs are very fertile lands. Ganga-Yamuna Doab lies in Western UP. Bari Doab lies between Ravi and Beas rivers. Bist Doab lies between Sutlej and Beas rivers.
    • Floodplains are one more feature of these Plains. Sediments are brought in by the flood water and are deposited on the banks of the river valley. Low-lying parts of the floodplains located near the river valley are called Khadar plains. They are regularly flooded and are called new alluvial lands.
    • Upland parts of the floodplains located away from the river valley are called Bhangar plains. They are occasionally flooded and are called old alluvial lands. Bhangar and Khadar plains are the "Granaries of India".
    • Bhabar zone - It is made up of pebbles, stones, gravels and coarse sand. It is highly porous zone. When rivers flow through this area, they almost disappear because of percolation.
    • Terai zone - The disappeared rivers emerge from the Terai zone. It is very much swampy or marshy. Because of marshy nature, we can see dense forests here. These are located between Bihar and Nepal and Uttar Pradesh and Nepal.
    • Rajasthan Plains -
      • Thar desert is part of Indus plains from topographic point of view.
      • Rajasthan Plains can be divided into two regions, namely Bagar region and Marusthali region.
      • Bagar region is a semi-arid region. Here we can find big and small river streams, e.g. Luni river. Salt lakes can also be found here, e.g. Sambhar lake.
      • Marusthali region is a proper Desert region. It is an arid region covered with sand dunes. We can come across small river channels here, e.g. River Ghaggar. River Ghaggar is the sucessor of ancient river Saraswati.