India may be divided into four main regions: the Himalaya, the northern river-plains, the Deccan Plateau, and the Eastern and Western Ghats.
The Himalaya mountain system is about 160 to 320 km (100 to 200 mi) wide and extends about 2,410 km (1,498 mi) along the northern and eastern margins of the Indian subcontinent, separating it from the rest of Asia. It is the highest, youngest, and one of the most active mountain systems in the world. Notable peaks wholly or partly within India include Kanchenjunga (8,598 m/28,209 ft), the third-highest peak in the world, after Mount Everest and K2 (Mount Godwin-Austen), Nanga Parbat (8,125 m/26,657 ft), Nanda Devi (7,817 m/25,645 ft), Rakaposhi (7,788 m/25,550 ft), and Kamet (7,756 m/25,447 ft).
Lying south of and parallel to the Himalaya is the northern plains region, a vast belt of flat lands about 280 to 400 km (175 to 250 mi) in width. The region is the world’s largest alluvial plain and comprises the major part of the area watered by the Indus, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra rivers. Because of the abundance of water and the rich alluvial soil, the northern plains are the most fertile and densely populated part of India and were the cradle of its civilization. They extend west-east from the Pakistan border to the Bangladesh border, continuing east into north-east India via the narrow corridor of land near Darjiling.
The central and western portions of the Indian plains region are watered by the River Ganges and its tributaries, which drain the southern slopes of the Himalaya; the region is known consequently as the Gangetic plain. The north-eastern states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are watered by the River Brahmaputra and its affluents, which rise in the northern ranges of the Himalaya. The Brahmaputra crosses into Bangladesh north of the Khasi Hills. The River Indus rises in Tibet, flows west through Jammu and Kashmir State, and crosses into Pakistan. On the south-western border with Pakistan the plains give way to the Great Indian Desert and the salt marshes known as the Rann of Kachchh.
South of the plains lies the Deccan Plateau, a vast, triangular tableland occupying most of peninsular India. Generally rocky, the Deccan is an uneven plateau divided into natural regions by low mountain ranges and deep valleys. Elevations range from about 305 to 915 m (1,000 to 3,000 ft), although outcroppings as high as 1,524 m (5,000 ft) occur. The Deccan is bordered by the mountain systems known as the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats.
The Western Ghats, a steep escarpment overlooking the Arabian Sea, have a general elevation of about 915 m (3,000 ft). The fertile Malabar Coast lies between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. The Eastern Ghats average about 460 m (1,500 ft) in height. Between them and the Bay of Bengal is a narrow coastal plain, the Coromandel Coast. The two ranges meet at the southernmost point of the Deccan (near Bangalore) in the Nilgiri Hills. "India" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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