Chapter 1: GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES
AND THEIR IMPACT ON HISTORY
The Indian subcontinent has three main reasons:
Himalaya Mountains, southern peninsula and Indo - Gangetic
Regional differences and related separate identities greatly fostered by geography, have stood in the way of the rise of durable pan Indian states in Indian history.
Never was the whole subcontinent a single political unit.
The Himalayas in the North and northwest and the Indian ocean in the south create a superficial view of isolation of the country from the subcontinent.
However the most difficult terrain does not impede the movement of ideas and influences between the people. Cultural influences have been exchanged across the frontiers and there have been maritime contacts with the west, West Asia and South east asia from the earlier times.
- The mountains stretch from Pamir in the North
West to north east. It has a length of 2560 km and breadth of
- The Himalayas protect Indian subcontinent from
cold winds blowing from Siberia to central Asia.
- The Himalayas also protect against external
invasions but the passes Khyber, Gomal, Khurram and Bolan
allow easy access.
- The Greeks, Huns, Parthian’s, Turks and Sakas
entered the subcontinent through these. Alexander came through
the Swat valley. These passes allowed trade as well as
cultural contacts between India and central Asia.
- In the east the Himalayas have thick forests and
heavy rains and thus many regions of the Himalayas are
isolated from rest.
Indo Gangetic Plains:
It is a very fertile region irrigated by Ganga,
Yamuna and Brahmaputra. Thar Desert and Aravalli hills are located
between Ganga and Indus plains. Area between two rivers is called
Many urban centres are located at the confluence of
rivers and river banks. Most important urban centre is Delhi
on the western side of Gangetic plain.
The plain is a source of temptation and attraction
to foreign invaders due to its fertility and productive wealth.
Important battles were fought to conquer these plains especially
the Ganga Yamuna doab was the most coveted and contested battle.
Kurukshetra and Panipat were most common
The rivers in these regions are arteries of
commerce and communication.
- The Vindhya and Satpuda mountain ranges
along with Narmada and Tapti rivers form the dividing
line. The plateau to the south of it is Deccan plateau which
is of volcanic rock.
As the rocks are easier to cut many rock cut temples
and monasteries are found here.
- The Deccan plateau is flanked by Eastern and
- The Coromandel Coast is located between
Eastern Ghats and Bay of Bengal. The Western Ghats and Eastern
Ghats meet at Nilgiri hills.
- The Deccan plateau is bridge between north and
south but due to the dense forests in the Vindhyas the culture
and language is well preserved due to geographic isolation.
- In the south, Palghat pass from Kaveri
valley to Malabar Coast was famous for Indo - Roman trade. The
Eastern Ghats are low and cut in places due to fast
flowing rivers. The rivers of the southern peninsula flow from
west to east except Narmada and Tapti which flow from east to
west. The rivers flow parallel to each other.
- The Krishna Tungabhadra doab has been
hotly contested by southern kingdoms due to its fertility. Due
to the long coastline the south kingdoms developed cultural
and commercial relations with Greco - Roman kingdoms.