Six Major Physical Divisions of India

The six major physical divisions of India are Northern Mountains, North Indian Plain, Peninsular Plateau, Great Indian Desert, Coastal Plains & Islands.

By Mohit ChauhanUpdated : July 9, 2020 , 12:50 IST
Six Major Physical Divisions of India

India is not only known for its historical marvels but also its diverse topography. Researchers from around the world visit India to study the physical divisions of India. Physical divisions, also known as physiographic divisions can be easily spotted on the physical map of India. 

In this article, we will discuss the six physiographic divisions of India. Let us first study the definition of the physical division and how it is different from the political division below. 

What is the Physical Division?

You must have seen the physical map of India; it shows all the physiographic divisions of India such as hills, rivers, plateaus, plains, deserts, and islands. In simple words, physical divisions are natural boundaries. These are different from political divisions, which are basically man-made territorial contours. 

Six Physical Divisions of India

There are six major physical divisions of India- Northern mountains, North-Indian plains, Peninsular plateau, Great-Indian desert, Coastal plains, and Islands. 

1. Northern Mountains

Northern mountains comprise various Himalayan ranges including, the Himadri range, the Himachal range, the Shiwalik range, Eastern highlands, and the Trans Himalayan range. 



Geological Features

The Himalayas are young and structurally fold mountains that run in a west-east direction from Indus to the Brahmaputra. 

Distance Covered

Himalayan mountains cover a distance of about 2,400 Km which runs from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh. 


Northern mountains act as a barrier against cold wind entering into India and also helps in precipitation of rain and snow. 


The south-facing mountains of Himalayas have a thick soil cover. The forests have loamy soil and appear dark brown. Alluvial soils are found in a few regions and it is said to be deficient in humus content at high altitudes. 

Natural Vegetation

Forests occupy over 52% of the total area of the Indian Himalayan region. There are four types of forests in the northern mountains- Tropical, Subtropical, Temperate, and Alpine. 


Species found here include Antelopes, Asiatic Black Bears, Indian Rhinoceros, and Langurs. 


About 80% of the total population resides in rural areas while the remaining people live in urban areas. 


People living in the Himalayan region practice agriculture, animal husbandry, balanced agriculture, and forestry. 

2. North Indian Plain

North Indian Plain is a favourable place for human settlement as it has fertile soil, rivers, and a suitable climate. The presence of multi-purpose dams enables easy irrigation and electricity generation. 

Let us know about the formation, climatic conditions, soil type, and different sections of the North-Indian Plain. 




North Indian Plains are formed by the interaction of the three major river systems, which are the Indus, the Ganga, and the Brahmaputra. 


The northern plain comprises alluvial soil which took millions of years for its deposition. It is 2400 Km long and about 240-320 Km wide. 


It is divided into three sections, namely Brahmaputra Plain, Ganga Plain, and Punjab Plain. 

Climatic conditions

Having a rich soil cover and optimal annual precipitation, it is a productive land for agriculture. 

3. Peninsular Plateau

Study the formation, climatic conditions, soil type, and sub-divisions in the peninsular region below. 




The Peninsular Plateau appears triangular in shape and is surrounded by hills. It is composed of metamorphic, crystalline, and igneous rocks. 


It has two sections, namely Central Highlands, and the Deccan Plateau. 


It experiences an annual rainfall between 700-1500 mm. The areas to the east of the Aravalli range have a humid subtropical climate. 


Soil types found in this region are Black, Red, and Laterite. 


Agriculture is the main occupation of the people living in the peninsular region. 

4. Great Indian Desert

Below is the tabulated data which tells about the location, climatic conditions, and the soil type of the Thar desert. 




Great Indian Desert, also known as the Thar Desert, occupies some area in Rajasthan, northwestern India, and Punjab. 


It experiences an annual rainfall of less than 150 mm. As a result, the climate is arid and vegetation is sparse.  


Soil is generally infertile, coarse, and well-drained. The soil types found here include Desert soil, Red soil, Saline soil, Yellow soil, Regosols (soft loose soil), and Lithosols (shallow weathered soil). 

5. Coastal Plains

The peninsular plateau is surrounded by a stretch of narrow coastal strips; these run along the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal on the east and the west respectively. 

Western Coastal Plains

Eastern Coastal Plains


The Western Coastal Plains are present between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. 


The Eastern Coastal Plains run along the Bay of Bengal. 


These plains are formed due to the submergence of land.


These plains have emerged due to deposits. 


They appear narrow with an average width of about 64 Km. 


They appear broader due to an average width of 80-100 Km. 


They are indented with many natural ports. 


They are characterized by a linear coastline. 

6. Islands

An island is defined as a small portion of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. In total, there are 1,208 islands in India, of which 204 islands are located in the Bay of Bengal and 43 are located in the Arabian Sea. Andaman and Nicobar Islands form a group of 572 islands; this makes it the largest island of India.

These were the six major geographical divisions of India with features that made you understand their importance. You can study this topic in detail in Chapter-2 of NCERT Class 9 Geography textbook. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which are the major physical divisions of India?

    The list of six major physical divisions of India is as follows.

    • Northern Mountains
    • North Indian Plain
    • Peninsular Plateau
    • Great Indian Desert
    • Coastal Plains
    • Islands
  • What is the other name of Southern Himalayas?

    The southern Himalayas are also known as Shiwaliks.

  • What are the physical features of India?

    All the geographical locations including hills, plains, rivers, plateaus, deserts, and islands fall under the category of physical features of India.


Class 10thSocial Science


Mohit Chauhan
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Mohit Chauhan