Geography of Himachal Pradesh, its Formation and Diversity
Geography of Himachal Pradesh, located in Northern India, shares its border with Jammu and Kashmir in the North, Uttarakhand in the Southeast, Uttar Pradesh in the South, Haryana in Southwest and Punjab in the West. It is located between 30°22’ and 33°12’ latitude and 75°47’ and 79°04’ longitude.
Also Read: History of Himachal Pradesh
The mountain slopes are covered with forests and meadows. The peaceful valleys are interspersed with numerous streams, fields, and homesteads. The rolling downs are strewn with boulders.
At the time of its birth, this Centrally Administered Province extended over an area of 10,600 square miles (25839 square kilometers). The exchange of a few enclaves was notified on 15 January 1950, mainly to straighten out the irritating angularities in the border with the neighboring provinces of the East Punjab, the United Provinces, and PEPSU. These did not add much to its size. But with the amalgamation of Bilaspur in July 1954, the girth of the State expanded to 28,192 sq. km.
Re-organization of Punjab State
The State of Punjab was re-organized in 1966 and while giving birth to the entirely new State of Haryana, the Punjab Re-organisation Act, 1966, transferred to Himachal Pradesh a territorial area of 27,263 sq. km. This comprised of Shimla, Kangra, Kullu, and Lahaul & Spiti.
It also merged parts of the districts of Ambala, Hoshiarpur, and Gurdaspur in the adjacent districts of Himachal Pradesh — which now came to possess a geographical area of 55,673 sq. km. Today, Himachal Pradesh constitutes 1.69 percent of the total area of the country and in size ranks fourteenth among India’s States and Union Territories.
The state is bound by Uttarakhand on the southeast, Tibet on the east, Punjab on the west and southwest. Haryana on the south and Jammu & Kashmir on the north. It is situated in the northwest corner of India, right in the lap of Himalayan ranges. The state has an area of 55,673 sq km. and its altitude ranging between 460 meters to 6,600 meters above sea levels.
Himachal Can Be Divided Into Three Zones
The state is divided into three zones – the Shivaliks or the outer Himalayas, the low mountains which have less altitude compare to great mountains in the middle and the zone of the Zaskar (other high peaks of Himalayas). Many parts of this state are snowbound from December to April.
The region is veiled from Punjab plains by the Shivalik hills. It is a tract with altitudes that range from about 350 meters to 6500 meters above mean sea level. This presents an intricate mosaic of mountain ranges, hills, and valleys: the white snow-clad peaks, its most prominent landmark. The Dhauladhar range looks on with supreme majesty over the Kangra valley. While the Pir Panjal, the Great Himalayan and the Zanskar ranges stand guard.
Numerous passes and glaciers are found in this state. The most important rivers of this state are Chenab (Chandrabhaga), Ravi (Iravati), Sutlej (Shatadru), Beas (Vipasa) and Yamuna (Jamuna). The Chenab flows 122 km inside Himachal Pradesh before it enters Kashmir. The Yamuna has a catchment area of 2,320 sq. km. in Himachal Pradesh. Forest occupy about 64% of the area.
Rivers – Geography of Himachal Pradesh
The major river systems of the region are the Chandrabhaga or Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, and Yamuna. These perennial rivers are fed by snow and rainfall. The annual replenishable groundwater resource in the state is 0.43BCM and the stage of groundwater development is 30%.
Also Read: Earthquake Prone Land Himachal
The watershed of the river Satluj fans out over the districts of Kinnaur, Shimla, and Bilaspur. Kullu and Mandi districts lie in the valley formed by the Beas. It has its source near Manali in Kullu district. The Ravi, rising from the slopes of the Bara Bhangal range, forms its watershed in the Chamba region. The Chandrabhaga flows out of Lahaul and Pangi and the Spiti river comes from the valley of the same name.
Hundreds of streams and rivulets drain through the Kangra district and pour their waters into the Beas. The fifth river, the Yamuna flows along the border of Himachal Pradesh with Uttar Pradesh and its three major tributaries, the Pabbar, the Tons and the Giri run through the lands of Shimla and Sirmaur districts.
The state has considerable mineral resources which include rock salt, limestone, gypsum, silica sand, and baryte. Traces of iron, gold, lignite, pyrite, natural gas and slates have been found in some districts like Bilaspur, Kangra, Mandi, and Solan.
Also Read: Places to visit in Himanchal in Winter
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