geography, north india

North India has two union territories - Delhi and Chandigarh - and seven states: Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Together they cover 1,452,602, sq km, 44% of the country's land area. Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state. Approximately 75% of the population of region lives in rural areas and most people depend on agriculture for a livelihood. The mountain regions of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and the hill region of Uttar Pradesh are sparsely populated, but the cultivated area is relatively limited because of the mountainous terrain and its altitude. Rajasthan has extensive deserts and semi-arid regions which produce low agricultural returns. Madhya Pradesh is still in the fortunate position of having extensive forests. Nearly all the Indian Himalaya lies in the northern regions. Himachal Paradesh and Jammu & Kashmir are almost wholly Himalayan, and in Uttar Paradesh the Himalayan regions of Garhwal and Kumaon make up about a quarter of the state. The mountain region is magnificent, containing numerous strikingly beautiful and contrasting sub-regions. The Himalaya (Abode of Snow) stretches from the disputed border with Pakistan in Kashmir to the Western border of Nepal.

Over 1,000 km long, it varies in width from 160 km in Garhwal and Kumaon to 400 km in Kashmir and Ladakh. In places the mountains tower to almost 8,000 m. The Himalaya itself forms the backbone of the mountain region. To the south, bordering the plains are the Siwaliks, a range of foothills, sometimes separated from the Lesser Himalaya by valleys (duns). In the Kashmir there is also the Pir Panjal range, which rises to nearly 5,000 m in places. This forms the southern wall to the Vale of Kashmir. There are other lesser ranges, such as the Zanskar and Ladakh ranges, both reaching 6,000 m. Garhwal and Kumaon in the Uttar Pradesh Himalaya are the home of the gods. The sacred Ganga and almost equally sacred Yamuna both have their sources here at Gangotri and Yamunotri. Nanda Devi (7816 m) is the highest mountain in the region, and one of the most beautiful and mysterious in the entire range. Garhwal and Kumaon are Himalayan trekking's best kept secret. When Indians speak of the 'the North', they are usually referring not to the Himalayas or Kashmir but to a broad belt of land that includes the Ganga Basin and the Haryana and the Punjab region north-west of Delhi. In this wedge lives a very large proportion of the country population. The reason is that the soils are generally very fertile, the product of silt brought down by the rivers of the Himalaas and deposited in a great trench formed by the pressure of the north-moving Peninsula against the Tibetan Plateau.The state has excellent forests, yet for all its varies beauty, cultural heritage and stable political climate, it is surprisingly little visited.