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Physiography of West Bengal
The physiography of West Bengal presents varied physical features, such as mountains, plateaus, hills, plains and deltas. They may be classified into the following five board division :-
The Northern Mountain :-
The Northern part of West Bengal is mountainous. This region includes the parts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri district. In this region the Himalayas present a beautiful panoramic view with the great Kanchenjungha at a distance. The mountain tract of the Himalayas rise abruptly from the plain and reach the eternal snow in Sikkim dominated by the
Kanchenjungha (8,598 m).
The entire landscape is dissected by deep valleys and steep gorge covered with lush green vegetation. The lofty ranges of the Singallia rises up along the Nepal border to the west of Darjeeling town.
Sandakphu (3,631 m)
are the two important peaks on it. Sandakphu is by far the highest peak in this region. It is the highest mountain peak in West Bengal.The river Mechi flows along the Indo-Nepal border. The river Tista carves out a deep valley through the Darjeeling Himalayan mountain. The other rivers which have dissected this region are the great Ranjit, Jaldhaka, Mahananda and Balason.
The West Plateau :-
The western part of West Bengal is occupied by plateau. It includes the entire Puruliya district parts of Murshidabad, Bardhaman, Bankura, Birbhum and Midnapur districts.It is a low plateau with an average height of 300 meters. It presents a landscape of rolling uplands with hills and hillocks. The land between the Kasai and Subarnarekha in Puruliya district is the most elevated part of the plateau. The Ajodhya hill stands on it with its peak Gorgaburu (677 m), which is the highest point on the plateau. There are many hills and hillocks. Of them, the
Susunia (447 m)
Biharinath (439 m)
are important. The Panchet hill stands on the Bakreswar near Suri, the general slope of the plateau is to the east.The plateau is dissected by many rivers; of them the important are the Damodar, Ajoy, Mayurakshi, Silai, Kansai and Subarnarekha. These rivers are rain-fed and they flow toward the east.
The Great Plains :-
The greater part of West Bengal is occupied by plains. It is a vast level land extending from the Terai-Duars in the north to the deltas in the south and from the plateau in the west to the Bangladesh border in the east. The land is almost monotonously level with some marshes, ox-bow lakes and undulating surface. The plain is mainly formed by alluvial soil deposited by the rivers. It is very fertile and populous. The great plains of West Bengal may be divided into the following divisions according to the physical characteristics of the land :
The Terai-Duars Region :-
It is located on the northern part of West Bengal along the foothills of the Darjeeling Himalayas.The word ‘Terai’ comes from a Persian word meaning dampness;‘Duar’ means door of gateway; this area acts a gateway to the mountain kingdom of Bhutan.The Terai-Duars area is a marshy land with forest. It represents a transitional belt of high plain between the Himalayas and the flat plain of North Bengal.It is relatively a flat plain with occasional undulation. The general slope is towards the south and south-east with a varying height from
75 m to300 m
above sea-level. Low ridges are, sometimes, found on it. The land is formed by gravels, sands and stones brought down by rivers. The region is traversed by the Tista, Torsa, Jaldhaka and Raidak.
The Northern plain :-
It is towards the north of the Ganga and extends up to the Terai-Duars region. It is a flat and level plain with a gentle slope towards the south. The land is formed by the alluvium brought down by the rivers. The plain of Kochbihar is similar to the Terai-Duars region on the north. The plain to the east of the Mahananda (of South Dinajpur and Malda district) is relatively high with red clay soil of old alluvium and it is known as ‘Barind’ or ‘Barendrabhumi’. The plain to the west of the Mahananda is drained by a river named Kalindi, a tributary of the Mahananda. The Kalindi divides the region into two parts; the northern part of the Kalindi is a marshy lowland and known as ‘Tal’; the southern part of it is fertile and well populated, and the region is called ‘Diara’.
The Southern Plain :-
The Bhagirathi-Hugli which flows through the middle of this plain, divides the southern plain into two sub-regions, viz.
The Rarh Plain
The Bagri plain.
Rarh Plain :-
The Rarh Plain lies on the western bank of the Bhagirathi-Hugli and extends up to the western plateau margin. The land is popularly known as ‘rangamati’. It is almost flat and level with a gentle slope towards the south-east. Consequently, the river Ajoy, Damodar, Mayurakshi, Rupnarayan, Kansai, Khowai and Dwarkeshwar flow to the south-east. The land is formed by these rivers and is covered with old alluvium.
Bagri plain :-
The Bagri Plain lies on the eastern bank of the Bhagirathi-Hugli and extends up to the Bangladesh border. This region is commonly known as the Ganga Delta and is formed by new alluvium. The land is characterized by lowlands, marshes and oxbow lakes.
The Ganga Delta may be divided into three sub-regions according to land-building processes :
Moribund Delta :-
The Moribund Delta is located in the eastern bank of the Bhagirathi-Hugli river. It covers the eastern part of Murshidabad, the entire parts of Nadia, and northern parts of 24 Paraganas. The process of formation of delta has already been completed. It is now perfect plain.
Mature Delta :-
The Mature Delta is located between the Sundarban in the south and the Moribund delta on the north. It includes the middle portion of the North and South 24 Paraganas. In this region, the process of formation of delta has attained a stage of maturity; the land formation approaches a plain.
Active Delta :-
The Active Delta lies in the southern most part of 24 Paraganas (north and south); the process of delta formation is active in the region on the mouth of rivers.
The Deltas :-
The southern part of West Bengal, particularly, the southern parts of the north and south 24 Paraganas, are formed by the deltas. Innumerable islands, tidal creeks and muddy lowlands are found there. Most of these areas are occupied by tidal forests named Sundarban. The name Sundarban signifies the luxuriant growth of ‘Sundari tree’ in this forest.
The Sand dunes of the Kanthi Coastal Plain :-
The Kanthi coast of the Midnapur district presents a typical landform feature related to the sea. This region is formed by sand dunes, sandy beaches, salt creeks and marshes.
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