Complete information on the northern plains of India


The Northern Fertile Plain lies to the south of Himalayan Region. It is also called the Gangetic Plain. It is a vast plain and level land between the Himalayas in the North and Deccan Plateau in the South. From Punjab in the West to Assam in the East, this plain is about 2400 km. long and its width varies from 150 km. in the East to about 300 km. in the West. It includes the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, some parts of Assam and the Union Territory of Delhi.

The soil of this plain is built of the sediments brought down by the rivers from Himalayas. Such plain is called an alluvial plain and is very fertile. This plain is one of the largest and most fertile plains of the World. It is the most thickly populated plain. This is also the major crop growing area in India. This plain is drained by Sutlej, Ganga, Brahmaputra and their tributaries. The slope of this plain in the West is South-west and in the East is South-east.

Three main rivers, the Sutlej, Ganga, Brahmaputra and their tributaries flow through this plain. So this plain can be divided into three parts namely : 1. The Sutlej Basin 2. The Ganga Basin and 3. The Brahmaputra Basin. An area through which a river and its tributaries flow is called its basin.

1. The Sutlej Basin :


The Sutlej Basin lies in the Western part of the Northern plain. River Sutlej and its tributary Beas flows in this part. Beas joins Sutlej at Harike before the Sutlej enters Pakistan. Two important States of this basin are Punjab and Haryana. The Union Territory of Chandigarh also falls in this basin. This part does not get sufficient rain therefore wells, tube-wells and canals are also used for irrigation. Wheat is the main crop of Sutlej Basin. Other crops like rice, sugarcane, cotton, gram and oil seeds are also produced in large quantity. Sutlej Basin is a granary of the country which supplies wheat and rice to other parts of the country.

The climate of this part is very hot in summer and very cold in winter. The people of this basin are very healthy and hardworking. They make good soldiers for our army. Amritsar, Jaiandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Chandigarh, Ambala, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Sonepat and Faridabad are important towns and industrial centers of this basin.

2. The Ganga Basin :

The Ganga Basin lies to the East of the Sutlej Basin. It is the largest part of this fertile Northern Plain. Therefore, this plain is also called Gangetic Plain. The States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and the Union Territory of Delhi lie in the Ganga Basin. The rivers Ganga, Yamuna and their tributaries flow through this part. The Ganga rises in the Himalayas in the glacier known as Gangotri. The Yamuna rises in a nearby glacier called Yamunotri. Bhagirathi, Mandakini, Alaknanda and some other streams join Ganga before it reaches Haridwar. It becomes quite a big river and at Haridwar the Ganga enters the plains. Haridwar is considered to be the most sacred place.

Many people take a dip in the Ganga at Haridwar. Kumbh Me/a is held at Haridwar every twelve years. Ganga is a sacred river and many cities such as Haridwar, Varanasi, Allahabad situated along the banks of the Ganga are also considered to be sacred places. As the Ganga moves Eastwards, rivers Gomti, Ghagra, Gandak and Kosi join it from the North. These rivers are formed in the Himalayas and have water all the year round. At Allahabad the Yamuna joins the Ganga. This place is known as Sangam. It is a sacred place. Allahabad was known as Prayag in old days. Kumbh Me/a is held at Allahabad every twelve years. The Chambal, the Betwa, the Ken, the Sone and the Damodar join it from the South. These rivers rise in the hills of Central India.


As the river Ganga flows in the plain its speed slows down. It carries the sediments brought down from the hills. It spreads these sediments along its banks. This soft and fresh soil makes the land fertile. Near the Raj MahaL hills the Ganga takes a sharp turn towards the south and enters West Bengal. As it enters West Bengal, the Ganga divides itself into two streams, one part is called Hooghly and flows into the West Bengal, the other part is called Padma and it flows into Bangla Desh. When these streams reach near the sea their speed slows down further and. they are unable to carry the sediments. The sedi­ments are deposited near the mouth of the stream and small islands are formed. These islands divide the stream into many tribu­taries and thus a de//a is formed. The delta is generally triangular in shape. Near the Bay of Bengal, Ganga forms a huge delta.

This delta is the biggest delta in the world and is called Sunderbans. The lower part of this delta is marshy and has dense for­ests. The famous white tiger (the Bengal tiger) is found in these forests. The delta has been named as Sunderbans due to the Sundari trees growing there. The major part of the Sunderbans is in Bangla Desh.

The Ganga Basin gets more rain than the Sutlej Basin, but it gets most of its rain in the rainy season, so the farmers have wells, tube-wells and canals to irrigate their fields. Wheat, sugarcane, jowar, bajra and rice are the main crops of this basin. Rice and jute are the main crops in Bihar and West Bengal. The climate of this part is hot and humid in summer and cool in winter.

This part is the most densely populated area in India and perhaps in the whole world. It has many historical, sacred and industrial towns and cities. Delhi, Agra, Konpur, Lucknow, Allahabad, Varanasi, Mathura, Haridwar, Patna and Calcutta are the most important cities of the Ganga Basin.

3. The Brahmaputra Basin:


The Brahmaputra Basin is the Eastern-most part of- the fertile Northern plain. The Brahmaputra rises in the Mansarovar lake in Tibet, in Tibet it is known as Tsang-Po. It turns to the South and enters India through the Eastern end of the Himalayas. Turning to the West it enters the plain through long valley in Assam and then the Brahmaputra turns to the South and enters Bangla Desh. Here it joins Padma and ends in the Sunderbans delta. Brahmaputra Basin is a narrow plain in the Assam State. This basin is surrounded by hills and mountains on three sides. Khasi, Garo, Jaintia and Naga Hills are on its Southern side.

The rainfall in the Brahmaputra Basin is very heavy. The river overflows its banks causing floods. Jute and rice are the main crops of this basin. Tea is grown on the slopes of the hills in Assam. Its climate is cold in winter and hot and humid in summer. Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Digboi are important towns of this basin

Importance of the Northern Plain

This plain is very important to India in many ways:

1. This plain is made up of the alluvial soil brought down by the rivers. This soil is very soft and fertile. Major crops such as wheat, rice, sugarcane, pulses, oil seeds and jute are grown here. This plain is the ‘food bowl1 of India.


2. The land of this plain is soft, level and flat. Therefore wells, tube-wells and canals can be dug for irrigation. Due to proper irrigation it is the largest producer of food grains in India.

3. This plain gets sufficient rainfall. There are many rivers, streams and lakes. There is also rich vegetation. These factors affect the climate and make it tolerable. The climate of the Northern Plain is very cold in winter and very hot in summer.

4. This is one of the most thickly populated plain of the world. The most thickly populated States of India — Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — lie in this plain.

5. This plain is very important for the economic development of India. The land being even, the transportation and communication is easy. This plain has a network of railways and roads. Some important industries like iron and steel, jute, cement, sugar and textile are spread evenly over the whole region.


The Ganga is our most sacred river. Its water is regarded as holy, but this holy water is getting polluted. Waste of many cities and industries located along its banks is making the water polluted. The water is no more fit for drinking. The government has made up a plan known as the Ganga Action Plan to clean the water from this pollution. Some laws have been made to prohibit the throwing of wastes into the rivers. We should try to keep its water clean.

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