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Geography

The Indian state of Himachal Pradesh has an area of 55,673 km². It shares its border with other Indian states like Jammu and Kashmir on the north, Punjab towards southwest, Haryana on  southern side, Uttarakhand on southeast and Tibet on east directions. Himachal Pradesh is situated in lower Himalayan region with numerous mountain ranges and rich natural resources.

The elevation in the state varies between 450 mts to 6,500 mts above sea level. The region forms an extension from Shivalik range of mountains. There is an obvious increase in elevation as we go from north to south and east to west.

The Geographical Location of Himachal Pradesh with respect to latitude is between 30' 22' 40" North to 33' 12' 40" North and it falls between 75' 45' 55" East to 79' 04' 20" East in longitudinal axis. Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh. For administrative purpose, the state is divided into twelve districts and it has approximately 49 cities and towns. The state has a total population of 6.7 million out of which 3.8 million are males and the remaining 2.9 million are females as per 2001 census.

The state of Himachal Pradesh is located in northern part of the country in lower Himalayas. It experiences pleasant climate throughout the year. The winter month brings enormous snow falls in the region due to its close proximity to Himalayas. The normal weather of various regions in the state varies as per altitude levels. The ideal time to explore the state is from September to March.

The people of Himachal Pradesh follow diverse cultures depending upon their place of residence. However as a commonality, they are culturally rich and cordial in their behavior. They have strong bonds in society and roots of their relation run deep into their families.

The state is divided into three physiographic Divisions from South to North

  • The Great Himalayas - located in northern zone
  • The lesser Himalayas - located in central zone
  • The outer Himalayas - also called Shivaliks

The Great Himalayan range is the regions which fall between an altitude ranges of above 5,000 to 6,000 meters. They form the eastern boundary of the state and river Satluj passes along this region. Some of the popular passes in great Himalayan range are:

  • Kangla (Altitude - 5,248 m)
  • Bara Lacha (Altitude -4,512 m)
  • Parang  (Altitude -5,548 m)
  • Pin Parbati (Altitude -4,802 m)

The Zanskar Range which is the easternmost range separates Kinnaur region from Spiti, then from Tibet. It has numerous peaks which have an elevation of above 6,500 m. Some of the popular peaks in Zanskar range are Shilla (7,026 m) and Riwo Phargyul (6,791 m). They are the highest peaks in Zanskar range. Apart from the numerous mountain ranges there are also several glaciers over Zanskar and Great Himalayan ranges.

The lesser Himalayas are identified by the steady increase in height beginning from Dhauladhar towards Pir Panjal ranges. The rise in elevation is observed to be very rapid in Shimla hills, towards south of which the highest peak is Chandni (Altitude- 3647 m).

The Kangra valley is one of the popular valleys in the country. It is located on the longitudinal trough along the foot of Dhauladhar range. Dhauladhar stands for “The White Peak” in Hindi language. It has an elevation of approximately 4,550 meters. It stands at a steep height of 3,600 m above Kangra valley. The largest mountain range in Himalayan ranges is Pir Panjal which gets divided from the Greater Himalayan range on the banks of Sutlej. Numerous glaciers and passes exist across Pir Panjal. The Rohtang Pass which stands at a height of 3,978 m is one of the popular among passes.

The Shivalik range is situated on lower elevation regions in the state. It is located at an elevation of 600 m above sea level. The hills of these regions contain rocks and soil which are prone to erosion and deforestation.

Himachal is a rich source of flora. The state has 38% of total area under the forest. The presence of 1200 bird and 350 animal species makes the wildlife of the state one of the most diversified.

The state of Himachal Pradesh has 49 cities and towns. The smallest town of the state is Naina Devi and largest city is the capital Shimla with a total state population of 6,856,509. The urban population of the area is very less and it accounts for only 7.5% of total state population. Majority of the population still resides in rural areas.

The most prominent rivers of the state are Chenab, Beas, Ravi, Yamuna, Sutlej, and Spiti. These rivers are responsible for extensive agriculture which takes place in the state without much problem of irrigation. They are also major contributor towards Natural beauty and prosperity of state.

The state is located on the western corner of the Himalayas and it functions as perfect convergence of immaculate streams that are flowing downstreams to the state. The Himalayas which are covered by thick snow, melts down to form major rivers of the state. These rivers fulfill the requirement of water in summer season.

The presence of diversified landscape adds delight to tourism in the state. The main land forms are mountainous terrains which are surrounded by valleys in all directions. The most prominent aspect of Himalayan ranges is the different landforms like slope, elevation, microclimatic situations and vegetation.

Flora and Fauna of Himachal Pradesh

Vast region of the state of Himachal falls in forest area. The forest region of the state can be broadly classified into six types. They are:

  • Alpine Scrub Forests
  • Sub Alpine Forests
  • Montane Temperate Forests
  • Montane Sub Tropical Forests
  • Dry Tropical Forests and
  • Moist Tropical Forests

The total area under the forest region is 21,325 Sq. Km which accounts to approximately 38.3 % of entire region of the state. The southernmost part of the state is the lower most regions. These regions are mainly enclosed with subtropical, tropical dry broadleaf forests and subtropical moist broadleaf forests. The main trees found in these regions are Sal and Shisham. The middle regions of the state are covered with mosaic broadleaf forests and subtropical pine forests. The main trees of these middle regions are Oaks, Deodar, and Blue pine trees. The upper most regions of the state are covered with Himalayan alpine plant. The rhododendron trees are common along the hills of Shimla. The state which is called the fruit bowl of the country has numerous fruit varieties growing in vast number of orchards. The state is famous for its excellent quality of apples which are exported to all parts of the country and abroad. The state also has rich and diverse varieties of birds and animal species. As per estimates of the wild life departments, there are approximately 1200 birds and 359 types of animal varieties in the state. Some of the commonly found animals include western Tragopan, ghoral, musk deer, snow leopard and leopard. The state has well established 12 main national parks of the country which are the resting places for numerous animal and bird varieties. The Great Himalayan National Park located in Kullu region was established as an effort to protect the flora and fauna of this region and even the Pin Valley National Park was constructed to protect the flora and fauna in chilly parts of the region.

Nature of Soil and Minerals found in Himachal

Some of the common types of soil found in the state are Sedimentary, brown, as well as brownish-grey soils. These soils are found in the agriculture rich districts of Una, Solan, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Shimla, Kullu and Kangra. The state has rich mineral resources spread across various districts and terrains. Some of the abundantly found mineral ore include lead, slate, gypsum, mica, limestone, salt, clays, uranium and iron ore.

Water Masses in Himachal Pradesh

Satluj is the most prominent river flowing through the state. However, there are some noticeable rivers like Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Yamuna which passes through the state. Apart from rivers there are certain lakes like Rewalsar, Chamera, Gobind Sagar, Chandratal, Mahakali, and Lamba which fulfill requirement of water in the state.

The Rural and Urban set up of Himachal Pradesh

Approximately 90% of population of the state lives in rural region. There are 50 towns and cities in the Hill state. The number of cities is slowly expanding owing to fast urbanization. Shimla, the capital city is the largest city and Naina Devi is the smallest urban district in terms of population.

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