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Published by: bigevil442 on Jul 09, 2010
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Part A:
Geographical Profile of Uttarakhand
Dinesh Pratap
Uttarakhand, administratively named as Uttaranchal came into existence as 27th State of Indian Union on the9th of November, 2000 having been carved out from the parent state of Uttar-Pradesh. Extending between28º44’ and 31º25’ North latitude and between 77º35’ and 81º2’ East longitude, Uttarakhand is a well-demarcatedgeographical and socio-cultural unit forming a part of central Himalaya. Covering a length of 320 km in east-west direction and a width of approximately 250 km in north-south direction, the region has a distinctivephysical characteristic
. Uttaranchal is primarily a mountanous and
region consisting of two divisions ofGarhwal and Kumaon having similarities in their ecological, socio-economic and ethno-cultural factors
. Thoughthe state has been named as Uttaranchal at the time of its creation, popularly the region is called Uttarakhandand we would also prefer to refer to it as Uttarakhand. However since the some of statistical data and otherinformations are available by the name of Uttranchal, the two words will be used interchangeably.As far as its space relations are concerned, its northern limit is formed by Indo-Chinese border, the southernlimit by
and Gangetic plain region of Uttar Pradesh, western limit by Tons-Yamuna rivers borderingHimachal Pradesh and eastern limit by rivers Kali-Sarda bordering Nepal. (Map)
Brief History
Himalaya has been attracting people since ancient times. The region has its own historical, religious andgeographical significance. In its recent History, Katyuri kings ruled the whole of hilly area from 850 A.D. to1050 A.D. On the decline of Katyuri dynasty, different members of the royal family established independentprincipalities and the Garhwal was separated from Kumaon.
Subsequently the Garhwal region was ruled byParmar Kings and Kumaon has Chands as rulers. In 1803 A.D., the
invaded the region and capturedthe whole of it from Kali in the east to Yamuna in the west. In 1814, British declared war on
finallydefeating them in 1815 and forced them to vacate both Garhwal and Kumaon. While the British kept Kumaonand districts of Chamoli and Pauri under their direct rule, the Tehri-Garhwal (including the present Uttarkashidistrict) was restored to Raja Sudarshan Shah of Tehri under an agreement. Subsequently, with the merger ofTehri State in Indian Union after independence and inclusion of Dehradun district in Garhwal, the area wasadministered under two commissionaries of Garhwal and Kumaon of the state of Uttar Pradesh.Haridwar which comprises partly hilly and mostly
and plain region was traditionally not a part ofhill region and has also been included in the
new state partly due to physical affinity, importantly because ofsome political compulsion.
(ii) The Ganga System
A large portion of Uttarakhand is drained by the Ganga system. Originating as Bhagirathi from Gangotriglacier, it is joined by Bhilangana at Tehri and Alkananda at Devprayag from where it acquires the name of
* Reader and Head, Department of Geography, D.A.V. (P.G.) College, Dehradun.
‘Ganga’. Dhauliganga, Pindar and Mandakini join Alaknanda as the major tributaries besides other smallerrivers before joining Bhagirathi. Downstream Devprayag, Ganga is joined by Nayar from the east and Songfrom the west draining Dun valley. The Ganga and its tributaries cover most of Garhwal region.
(iii) Kali system
Kali river which is known as Sharda in the lower part drains about one fourth of the region. It covers thewhole district of Pithoragarh, Chmpawat, the eastern part of Bageshwar and Almora and district of Nainital.The most important tributaries of Kali river are Dhauli Ganga, Gori Ganga, Eastern Ramganga, Sarju andLadhiya.Besides Kali system, parts of Udhamsingh Nagar and Garhwal are drained by Western Ramganga whichoriginates from Dudhatoli range in Pauri district and joins the Ganga system after flowing through U.P. plains.
Lakes and Tals
The presence of glacial lakes in the upper reaches and the other lakes in the middle Himalaya form an integralpart of drainage system. They are result of differential earth-movements such as faulting, etc. These are ofimportance as water bodies influencing local ecology and water system. The
in the middle Himalaya likeBhimtal, Sat tal, etc. in Nainital district are not only source of drinking water but also supply irrigation water.Some of the examples of glacial lakes are Rupkund, Hemkund and Vasukital whereas Dodital, Nachiketatal,Nainital, Bhimtal and Naukuchiatal are the notable lakes in the middle Himalaya.
The higher altitudes of Greater Himalaya experience snowfall during winters and most of the areas remainperpetually covered by snowfields and glaciers. Snow cover plays an important role in the ecology of theregion and melting of snow in summers forms an important source of many rivers originating in higherHimalaya
. The glaciers vary in length and width. The size of these glaciers range from 3 km to 30 kms. Someof the important glaciers of Uttarakhand are- Bandarpunch (12kms), Gangotri (29kms), Nandadevi (19kms),Chturangi, Satopanth (11kms), Khatling, Pindari (5kms), Kamet and Milam (19kms).
The Climatic Conditions
The climate of this relatively small state varies from tropical to alpine. This wide range of climatic conditionsis present mainly due to altitudinal variation but degree and direction of slope, the vegetal cover and presenceof water bodies also make substantial impact on rapid and unpredictable change in micro-climate and localweather. The configuration and altitudinal peculiarities of mountain ranges of the Himalaya are responsiblefor the variation of climate within the mountain province itself.
The temperature and rainfall, the two mostprominent climatic factors, show large spatial variation over the region as well as from valley bottom tohilltop within the same region. Precipitation is received mostly in the form of monsoon rainfall from June toSeptember. However higher reaches experience snowfall in the months of December, January and February.The average rainfall of the region is between 1250mm and 2000mm and of this maximum is recorded in theelevation zone of 1000 to 2000 mts. The average annual temperature of region ranges from 25° celsius in thesouth to sub-zero in the north.The climatic conditions of the region have not been analysed in detail due to paucity of data and absenceof network of weather stations. The local and regional differences are numerous, however a certain unityresults from monsoonal effect common to whole region.
The local relief has given rise to peculiar thermaleffects in the mountainous terrain.On the basis of altitude, the state can be divided into five climatic zones. These are: (i) Tropical zone – below 900 mts, (ii) Sub-tropical or Warm-Temperate zone – between 900 to 1800 mts, (iii) Cool Temperate zone– between 1800 and 2400mts, (iv) Cold temperate zone – between 2400 and 3000 mts and (v) Alpine andGlacial zone – above 3000 mts.
The Natural Vegetation
Similar to climate, the variation in physical parameters is also clearly reflected in natural vegetation in thismountainous state. The zonal distribution of natural vegetation from outer foothills through middle Himalaya

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