NCERT Class 11 Geography Structure And Physiography

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Do you know that our earth also has a history. The earth and its landforms that we see today have evolved over a very long time. Current estimation shows that the earth is approximately 460 million years old. Over these long years, it has undergone many changes brought about primarily by the endogenic and exogenic forces. These forces have played a significant role in giving shape to various surface and subsurface features of the earth. You have already studied about the Plate Tectonics and the movement of the Earth’s plates in the book Fundamentals of Physical Geography (NCERT, 2006). Do you know that the Indian plate was to the south of the equator millions of years ago? Do you also know that it was much larger in size and the Australian plate was a part of it? Over millions of years, this plate broke into many parts and the Australian plate moved towards the southeastern direction and the Indian plate to the north.

Can you map different phases in the movement of the Indian plate? This northward movement of the Indian plate is still continuing and it has significant consequences on the physical environment of the Indian subcontinent. Can you name some important consequences of the northward movement of the Indian plate?

It is primarily through the interplay of these endogenic and exogenic forces and lateral movements of the plates that the present geological structure and geomorphologic processes active in the Indian subcontinent came into existence. Based on the variations in its geological structure and formations, India can be divided into three geological divisions. These geological regions broadly follow the physical features:

(i) The Penisular Block

(ii) The Himalayas and other Peninuslar Mountains

(iii) Indo-Ganga-Brahmaputra Plain.


The northern boundary of the Peninsular Block may be taken as an irregular line running from Kachchh along the western flank of the Aravali Range near Delhi and then roughly parallel to the Yamuna and the Ganga as far as the Rajmahal Hills and the Ganga delta. Apart from these, the Karbi Anglong and the Meghalaya Plateau in the northeast and Rajasthan in the west are also extensions of this block. The northeastern parts are separated by the Malda fault in West Bengal from the Chotanagpur plateau. In Rajasthan, the desert and other desert–like features overlay this block.

The Peninsula is formed essentially by a great complex of very ancient gneisses and granites, which constitutes a major part of it. Since the Cambrian period, the Peninsula has been standing like a rigid block with the exception of some of its western coast which is submerged beneath the sea and some other parts changed due to tectonic activity without affecting the original basement. As a part of the Indo-Australian Plate, it has been subjected to various vertical movements and block faulting. The rift valleys of the Narmada, the Tapi and the Mahanadi and the Satpura block mountains are some examples of it.


The Himalayas along with other Peninsular mountains are young, weak and flexible in their geological structure unlike the rigid and stable Peninsular Block. Consequently, they are still  subjected to the interplay of exogenic and endogenic forces, resulting in the development of faults, folds and thrust plains. These mountains are tectonic in origin, dissected by fast-flowing rivers which are in their youthful stage. Various landforms like gorges, V-shaped valleys, rapids, waterfalls, etc. are indicative of this stage.


The third geological division of India comprises the plains formed by the river Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. Originally, it was a geo-synclinal depression which attained its maximum development during the third phase of the Himalayan mountain formation approximately about 64 million years ago. Since then, it has been gradually filled by the sediments brought by the Himalayan and Peninsular rivers. Average depth of alluvial deposits in these plains ranges from 1,000-2,000 m.

It is evident from the above discussion that there are significant variations among the different regions of India in terms of their geological structure, which has far-reaching impact upon other related aspects. Variations in the physiography and relief are important among these. The relief and physiography of India has been greatly influenced by the geological and geomorphological processes active in the Indian subcontinent.


‘Physiography’ of an area is the outcome of structure, process and the stage of development. The land of India is characterised by great diversity in its physical features. The north has a vast expanse of rugged topography consisting of a series of mountain ranges with varied peaks, beautiful valleys and deep gorges. The south consists of stable table land with highly dissected plateaus, denuded rocks and developed series of scarps. In between these two lies the vast north Indian plain. Based on these macro variations, India can be divided into the following physiographic divisions:

(i) The Northern and Northeastern Mountains

(ii) The Northern Plain

(iii) The Peninsular Plateau

(iv) The Indian Desert

(v) The Coastal Plains

(vi) The Islands.



1. Choose the right answer from the four alternatives given below.

     (i) In which part of Himalayas do we find the Karewa formation?

          (a) North-eastern Himalayas (c) Eastern Himalayas

          (b) Himachal-Uttaranchal Himalayas (d) Kashmir Himalayas

     (ii) In which of the following states is Loktak lake situated?

          (a) Kerala (c) Manipur

          (b) Uttaranchal (d) Rajasthan

     (iii) Which one of the water bodies separates the Andaman from the Nicobar?

          (a) 11° Channel (c) 10° Channel

          (b) Gulf of Mannar (d) Andaman Sea

     (iv) On which of the following hill range is the ‘Dodabeta’ peak situated?

          (a) Nilgiri hills (c) Cardamom hills

          (b) Anaimalai hills (d) Nallamala hills

2. Answer the following questions in about 30 words.

     (i) If a person is to travel to Lakshadweep, from which coastal plain does he prefer and why?

     (ii) Where in India will you find a cold desert? Name some important ranges of this region.

     (iii) Why is the western coastal plain is devoid of any delta?

3. Answer the following questions in not more than 125 words.

     (i) Make a comparison of the island groups of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

     (ii) What are the important geomorphological features found in the river valley plains?

    (iii) If you move from Badrinath to Sunderbans delta along the course of the river Ganga, what major           geomorphological features will you come across?


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