Geography of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh is India's fifth largest and most populous state, located in the north-central part of the country. It spreads over a large area, and the plains of the state are quite distinctly different from the high mountains in the north. The climate of Uttar Pradesh can also vary widely, with temperatures as high as 47 °C in summer, and as low as -1 °C in winter.
Uttar Pradesh is bounded by Nepal on the North, Uttrakhand on the north-east, Himachal Pradesh on the north-west, Haryana on the west, Rajasthan on the south-west, Madhya Pradesh on the south and south-west,Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand on south and Bihar on the east. Situated between 23°52'N and 31°28'N latitudes and 77°3' and 84°39'E longitudes, this is the fifth largest state in the country in terms of area, and the first in terms of population.
Uttar Pradesh can be divided into three distinct hypsographical regions :
- The Himalayan region in the North - Highly rugged and varied terrain; transferred to Uttrakhand. Varying topography; elevation ranges from 300 to 5000m; slope ranges from 150 to 600 m/km.
- The Gangetic Plain in the centre - Highly fertile alluvial soils; flat topography broken by numerous ponds, lakes and rivers; slope 2 m/km
- The Vindhya Hills and plateau in the south - Hard rock Strata; varied topography of hills, plains, valleys and plateau; limited water availability.
The Himalayan region comprises the districts of Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Pithorgarh, Tehri-Garhwal, Almora and Nainital tehsil of Nainital District and Chakrata and a part of Dehradun tehsil of Dehradun District. High mountains formed of sedimentary rocks broken by valleys and deep gorges, characterize the terrain. The perpetual snows in the higher reaches are the source of perennial rivers and rivulets which criss-cross the terrain and ultimately find their two rivers together with their tributaries form a big river system which waters the entire Gangetic plain.
The prominent peaks in the hill region include Bandarpunch, Mount Kamet, Trishul, Dunagiri, Nanda Devi, Badrinath and Kedarnath. The hill areas are sparsely populated. There are few trees that can grow in this terrain, and soil is thus subject to heavy erosion. Cultivation is done under intensive soil. Irrigation facilities are deficient and only a small fraction of the total area is under artificial irrigation. The valley areas have fertile and rich soil. There is intensive cultivation on terraced hill slopes. The higher altitudes are suitable for sub-tropical and temperate fruit culture.The Siwalik Range which forms the southern foothills of the Himalayas, slopes down in to a boulder bed called 'bhadhar'. The transitional belt running along the entire length of the state is called the terai and bhabhar area. It has rich forests, cutting across it are innumerable streams which swell into raging torrents during the monsoon. The bhabhar tract gives place to the terai area which is covered with tall elephant grass and thick forests interspersed with marshes and swamps. The sluggish rivers of the bhabhar deepen in this area, their course running through a tangled mass of thick under growth. The terai runs parallel to the bhabhar in a thin strip. The main crops are wheat, rice, and sugar cane. Jute also is grown. Tea is grown in the sub mountain area of the Dehradun. The most important area for the economy of the state is the Gangetic plain which stretches across the entire length of the state from east to west. The entire alluvial plain can be divide into three sub-regions. The first in the eastern tract consisting of 14 districts which are subject to periodical floods and droughts and have been classified as scarcity areas. These districts have the highest density of population which gives the lowest per capita land. The other two regions, the central and the western are comparatively better with a well-developed irrigation system. They suffer from water logging and large-scale user tracts. The Gangetic plain is watered by the Yamuna, the Ganges and its major tributaries, the Ramganga, the Gomati, the Ghaghra and Gandak. The whole plain is alluvial and very fertile. The chief crops cultivated here are rice, wheat, pearl millet, gram, and barley. Sugar cane is the chief cash crop of the region. The Southern fringe of the Gangetic is demarcated by the Vindhya Hills and plateau. It comprises the four districts of Jhansi, Jalaun, Banda, and Hamirpur in Bundelkhand division, Meja and Karchhana tehsils of Allahabad district, the whole of Mirzapur District south of Ganges and Chakia tehsil of Varanasi District. The ground is strong with low hills. The Betwa and Ken rivers join the Yamuna from the south-west in this region. It has four distinct kinds of soil, two of which are agriculturally difficult to manage. They are black cotton soil. Rainfall is scanty and erratic and water-resources are scare. Dry farming is practical on a large scale.
The climate of the state is tropical monsoon, but variations exist because of difference in altitudes. The Himalayan region is cold. The average temperature varies in the plains from 3 to 4 °C in January to 43 to 45 °C in May and June. There are three distinct seasons - winter from October to February, summer from March to mid-June, and the rainy season from June to September.
The Himalayan region has about 1000 to 2000 mm of rain fall. The rain fall in the plains is heaviest in the east and decreases towards the north-east. Floods are a recurring problem in the state, causing damage to crops, life and property. The worst floods were in 1971, when 51 of the 54 districts of the state were affected — an area of nearly 52,000 square kilometres. The eastern districts are the most vulnerable to floods, the western districts slightly less and the central region markedly less. The eastern districts susceptibility to floods is ascribed, among other things, to heavy rainfall, low flat country, high subsoil water level and the silting of beds which causes river levels to rise. The problem in the western districts is mainly poor drainage caused by the obstruction of roads, railways, canals, new built-up areas etc. There is water logging in the large areas. The major flood-prone rivers are the Ganges, Yamuna, Gomti, Ghaghara, Rapti, Sarda and Ramganga. The inadequate drainage capacity of the smaller western Sirsa, Kali and the Aligarh drain is also a cause of floods.
Tropical Monsoon Climate Marked By Three Distinct Seasons:
- Summer (March–June): Hot & dry (temperatures rise to 45 °C, sometimes 47-48 °C); low relative humidity (20%); dust laden winds.
- Monsoon (June–September): 85% of average annual rainfall of 990 mm. Fall in temperature 40-45° on rainy days.
- Winter (October–February): Cold (temperatures drop to 3-4 °C, sometimes below -1 °C); clear skies; foggy conditions in some tracts.
Flora and fauna
Forests constitute about 12.8% of the total geographical area of the state. The Himalayan region and the terai and bhabhar area in the Gangetic plain have most of the forests. The Vindhyan forests consists mostly of scrub. The districts of Jaunpur, Ghazipur and Ballia have no forest land, while 31 other district have less forest area.
Near the snow line there are forests of rhododendrons and Betula utilis (bhojpatra). Below them are forests of silver fir, spruce, deodar, chir and oak. On the foothills and in the terai-bhabhar area grow the sal and gigantic haldu. Along river courses the shisham grows in abundance. The Vindhyan forests have dhak, teak, mahua, salai, chironji and tendu. The hill forests also have a large variety of medicinal herbs. Sal, chir, deodar and sain yield building timber and railway sleepers. Chir also yield resin, the chief source of resin and turpentine. Sisso is mostly used for furniture while khair yields kattha, which is taken with betel leaves or pan. Semal and gutel are used as matchwood and kanju in the plywood industry. Babul provides the principal tanning material of the state. Some of the grasses such as baib and bamboo are raw material for the paper industry. Tendu leaves are used in making bidis (Indian cigarettes), and cane is used in baskets and furniture.
Corresponding to its variegated topography and climate, the state has a wealth of animal life. Its avifauna is among the richest in the country. Animals that can be found in the jungles of Uttar Pradesh include the tiger, leopard, wild bear, sloth bear, chital, sambhar, jackal, porcupine, jungle cat, hare, squirrel, monitor lizards, and fox. These can be seen in all but the highest mountain ranges. The most common birds include the crow, pigeon, dove, jungle fowl, black partridge, house sparrow, peafowl, blue jay, parakeet, kite, mynah, quail, bulbul, kingfisher and woodpecker.
Certain species are found in special habitats. The elephant is confined to the terai and the foothills. The gond and para also found in this region. The chinkara and the sandgrouse prefer a dry climate, and are native to the Vindhyan forests. The musk deer and the brown bear is found in the higher Himalayas. Among the game birds resident in the state are the snipe, comb duck, grey duck, cotton teal and whistling teal.
Several species of wildlife have become extinct in Uttar Pradesh. Among them are the lion from the Gangetic plain and the rhinoceros from the terai. The fate of many species is uncertain, including the tiger, black buck, serow, musk deer, swamp deer, bustard, pink-headed duck, chir and mural pheasants and four-horned antelope. Although a determined enforcement of laws against poaching and hunting has yielded some results, the wildlife population today is alarmingly low. Gharials are poached for their skin.
To preserve its wild life the state has established one National Park; Corbett National Park and 12 game sanctuaries. The Corbett National Park is situated partly in Ramnagar and partly in the Kalagarh forest division. It is one of the showpieces of the state.