The Coastal Plains
- The Peninsular plateau is bordered by narrow coastal strips that run alongside the Arabian Sea in the west and the Bay of Bengal in the east.
Characteristics of India’s Coastal Plains
- The coastal plains of India are situated between extensive mountain ranges and bodies of water on both sides. These slender coastal strips run from west to east along the Arabian Sea and from east to west along the Bay of Bengal, delineating the western and eastern coasts of the country.
- The western coast, situated between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, forms a three-sectioned plain with a relatively narrow width. It comprises the northernmost Konkan region, the central Kannad Plain, and the southern Malabar Coast.
- In contrast, the plains running parallel to the Bay of Bengal are broader and more level. The northern part is known as the Northern Circars, while the southern region is referred to as the Coromandel Coast.
- These coastal plains are notable for the presence of major rivers such as the Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri along the eastern shores, which give rise to extensive deltaic regions.
- To summarize, India’s coastal plains include the eastern coastal plains between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal and the western coastal plains between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea.
Western Coastal Plains:
- The Western Coastal Plains stretch from the Rann of Kutch in the north to Kanyakumari in the south along the Arabian Sea.
- These plains are submerged coastal areas, resulting in a narrow belt that provides favorable conditions for the development of ports and harbors.
- Important natural ports include Kandla, Mazagaon, JLN Port Nhava Sheva, Marmagao, Mangalore, and Cochin.
- The Western Coast can be further divided into different regions: the Kutch and Kathiawar coast in Gujarat, the Konkan coast in Maharashtra, and the Goan and Malabar coasts in Karnataka and Kerala, respectively.
- The plains of Gujarat consist of black soil, while the Malabar coast features long and narrow lagoons, with Kochi port situated on one of them.
- These plains narrow in the middle but broaden towards the north and south. The rivers flowing through this coastal plain do not form deltas.
- The Malabar coast is characterized by its unique “Kayals” (backwaters), which are used for fishing, inland navigation, and tourism.
Divisions of the Western Coastal Plains
The Western Coastal Plains are subdivided into the following distinct regions:
Kutch and Kathiawar Regions:
- Location: To the south of Kachchh lies the Kathiawar Peninsula, and the Kathiawar coast is situated further south of Kutch.
- Geological Composition: Kathiawar is primarily formed of Deccan Lava, while tertiary rocks can be found in the Kutch area.
- Seasonal Changes: During the monsoon season, shallow water covers Kachchh, a region created by the deposition of silt from the Indus River. In the eastern part of Kachchh, it is divided into the Great Rann of Kutch and the Little Rann of Kutch.
- Notable Features: The Kutch Peninsula was once an island surrounded by seas and lagoons, later filled with material carried by the Indus River. Recent years of limited rainfall have transformed the environment into a semi-desert. The Mandav Hills form a central highland, from which minor streams flow in various directions. The Great Rann to the north of Kutch is a salt-soaked plain, while the Little Rann, its southern continuation, is located on the southeastern shore of Kachchh.
- Location: Extending east of Kachchh and Kathiawar, the Gujarat Plain slopes westward and southwestward.
- River Basins: This plain, formed by the rivers Narmada, Tapi, Mahi, and Sabarmati, covers the southern half of Gujarat and the coastal sections of the Gulf of Khambhat.
- Notable Features: The eastern part of this plain is suitable for agriculture, while windblown loess covers much of the coastal area, forming sand dunes.
- Location: Stretching from Daman to Goa, the Konkan Plain lies to the south of the Gujarat plain.
- Notable Features: Near Mumbai, Thane Creek serves as a significant embayment, functioning as a natural harbor. Marine erosion has given rise to cliffs, shoals, reefs, and islands in the Arabian Sea.
Karnataka Coastal Plain:
- Location: Extending from Goa to Mangalore, the Karnataka Coastal Plain is characterized by its narrow width, typically ranging from 30 to 50 kilometers, with a maximum width of 70 kilometers near Mangalore.
- Waterfalls: Streams originating in the Western Ghats cascade down steep hillsides, forming waterfalls in various locations. The Sharavati River creates the magnificent Gersoppa (Jog) Falls, which plummets 271 meters down a steep hill.
- Notable Features: The marine topography of this coast is distinctly unique, and the region, rich in iron deposits, lies between the Marmagaon and Mangalore areas.
Eastern Coastal Plains:
- The Eastern Coastal Plains are broader and flatter, representing an emergent coast. These plains are formed by alluvial deposits and are punctuated by numerous hills.
- The northern part is known as the Northern Circar, while the southern part is called the Coromandel Coast.
- This region is home to well-developed deltas formed by rivers such as the Mahanadi, Krishna, Godavari, and Kaveri.
- The plain also features famous lagoons like Chilika, Pulicat, and Kolluru. Due to its emergent nature, there are fewer ports and harbors in this area.
- The continental shelf extends up to 500 km into the sea, making it challenging to develop major ports and harbors.
- Important ports along the eastern coast include Paradip, Visakhapatnam, Ennor, Chennai, and Tuticorin.
- The Eastern Coastal Plains are extensively cultivated for rice production.
Divisions of the Eastern Coastal Plains
The Eastern Coastal Plains are further categorized into three distinct regions:
- Extent: The Utkal Coast spans from Chilka Lake to Kollur Lake, encompassing a substantial area.
- Geographical Features: This region primarily consists of the coastal parts of Odisha, forming the Utkal Plain.
- Agriculture: Commonly cultivated crops include rice, coconut, and bananas.
- River Basin: The Utkal Coast is part of the Mahanadi River delta basin.
- Notable Characteristics: It experiences significant rainfall due to its proximity to the Eastern Ghats. Chilka Lake, the country’s largest lake, is a prominent physiographic feature of this plain, covering an area ranging from 780 square kilometers in winter to 1,144 square kilometers during the monsoon season.
- Extent: The Andhra Coast extends from Kollur Lake in the north to Pulicat Lake in the south.
- River Basins: It encompasses the basins of the Krishna and Godavari rivers.
- Notable Characteristics: The most prominent feature of this plain is the delta formed by the merging of the Godavari and Krishna river deltas, creating a single physiographic entity. Sriharikota Island, a lengthy sand spit, blocks access to this region (housing the ISRO launch facility). Kolleru Lake, once a coastal lagoon, has shifted further inland over time.
- Extent: The Coromandel Coast stretches along the Tamil Nadu Plain for approximately 675 kilometers, from Pulicat Lake to Kanyakumari, with an average width of 100 kilometers.
- River Basin: The Cauvery delta, which spans 130 kilometers in width, is the most notable feature of this plain.
- Notable Characteristics: This region receives substantial rainfall, particularly during the northeast monsoon in winter. The fertile land and extensive irrigation systems in the Cauvery delta have made it the granary of South India.
Significance of Indian Coastlines
India’s coastline stretches for approximately 7516.6 km, encompassing the island groups of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep. Consequently, the regions covered by India’s coastlines enjoy a favorable climate with moderate temperatures, making them ideal for human development. Here are some of the key significance of India’s coastal plains:
- Fertile Soils: The coastal plains in India are predominantly characterized by fertile soils, making them ideal for cultivation. Rice is a major crop cultivated in these regions due to the fertile land.
- Trade Hubs: The presence of both large and small ports along the Indian coastlines facilitates trade and commerce, contributing significantly to the nation’s economy.
- Mineral Resources: These coastal plains are known for their sedimentary rocks that contain substantial deposits of mineral oil. These resources have the potential to serve as a source of marine-based economic activities.
- Fishing Industry: Fishing has emerged as a crucial occupation for the communities living in coastal areas. The abundance of marine life and resources supports a thriving fishing industry.
- Ecological Diversity: India’s coastal plains boast rich coastal and marine ecosystems, featuring diverse mangroves, coral reefs, estuaries, and lagoons. This ecological diversity presents substantial tourism potential, attracting visitors interested in exploring these unique natural habitats.
Q1. What are the major coastal plains of India, and what are their characteristics?
Ans. The major coastal plains of India include the Western Coastal Plains along the Arabian Sea and the Eastern Coastal Plains along the Bay of Bengal. These plains are characterized by their fertile alluvial soil, extensive deltas, and a diverse range of flora and fauna. They also host numerous ports and harbors, serving as vital hubs for trade and commerce, and are known for their significant agricultural output, particularly in the cultivation of rice, coconut, and various cash crops.
Q2. How can one locate the coastal plains on the map of India?
Ans. To locate the coastal plains on the map of India, one should look for the long stretches of low-lying land along the western and eastern sides of the country. The Western Coastal Plains run parallel to the western Ghats, while the Eastern Coastal Plains lie adjacent to the Bay of Bengal. These regions are prominently marked on most maps and atlases, highlighting their geographical significance and their relationship with the surrounding water bodies.
Q3. What is the meaning of “coastal plains” in Hindi?
Ans. The term “coastal plains” translates to “तटीय मैदान” (Tatiya Maidan) in Hindi. It refers to the low-lying, flat land areas located near the coastlines, characterized by their proximity to the sea and the alluvial deposits carried by rivers and other water bodies. These regions are of immense importance for various economic activities, including agriculture, fishing, and industrial development.
Q4. What is the general meaning of “coastal plains” in geography and earth sciences?
Ans. In geography and earth sciences, “coastal plains” refer to the flat, low-lying land areas adjacent to the coastlines of continents or large landmasses. These plains are typically formed by the deposition of sediments carried by rivers and streams, as well as by the erosive action of waves and tides. They are crucial ecological zones, supporting a variety of marine and terrestrial life and serving as significant centers of human habitation, trade, and industrial activity.
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