Geographical Climate of West Bengal
West Bengal is situated in the Eastern region of India, stretching from the Himalayas in the North to the Bay of Bengal in the South with a distance of 700 km (approx). It is the only Indian state to have a coastline as well as the Himalayas. The mountains and sea influence the climate of West Bengal greatly giving it a humid subtropical to the tropical type of climate.
The state West Bengal came into existence when India was divided on the eve of independence in 1947. Being in the Western part of the undivided Bengal province, it has been given the name ‘West Bengal. Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal. In respect of the area, West Bengal is 14th among the Indian states. It covers an area of around 88,752 sq km which is 2.67 percent of total India’s land area. The geographical features of a state include location and extent and physiographic divisions of the state.
West Bengal is situated in Eastern India and lies between 21°38′ and 27°10′ North latitude and between 85°30′ and 89o53′ East longitude. The Tropic of Cancer passes through the middle part of the state. It passes through Purulia, Bankura, Bardhaman, and Nadia districts of West Bengal.
Boundary and Extent
The state shares international boundaries with Bangladesh in South-East, Bhutan in North, and Nepal in North West. The state has the largest international boundary with Bangladesh (2272 km) and the smallest international boundary with Nepal. The state share interstate boundaries with Bihar and Jharkhand in the West, Odisha in the South, Assam in the North-East, and Sikkim in the North.
The state has the longest interstate boundary with Jharkhand and the smallest state boundary with Sikkim. The state is 623 km wide from North-South direction and 320 km wide from East-West, direction. A narrow strip of land in West Bengal joins the landmass of India to its North-Eastern states.
This strip of land looks like Chicken’s Neck and is called the Siliguri Corridor or Mahananda Corridor. It is a 9 km wide zone and lies in Chopra of North Dinajpur. Land on the North of this corridor is mountainous and land on the South of this corridor is plain. West Bengal has the Rajmahal hills on the North-Western side and the Shillong plateau on its North-Eastern borders.
Physiographic Divisions of the State
The area of West Bengal can be divided into three physiographic divisions:
- The Northern Mountains The Northern mountain region is situated on The north-Western part of West Bengal and belongs to the Eastern Himalayan range. This region covers the whole of the Darjeeling district (except the Siliguri division) and some parts of the Jalpaiguri district. This region has high mountains, deep gorges, and steep sloping ranges.
The ancient silk route passed through the Pudong city near Kalimpong (city of orchid) in this region. Teesta, Jaldhaka, and Raidhak rivers flow in this region. River Teesta divides the Northern mountains into two parts and forms deep gorges. The two parts are Western and Eastern mountains. These are as follows i.
i) Western Mountain Region The two main mountain ranges of this region are the Singalila range and Darjeeling range. The Singalila range is located along the border of Darjeeling and Nepal. This range has four important peaks i.e. Sandakphu (3630 m, highest peak of the state), Phalut (3595 m, Sabargram (3036 m), and Tonglu (3121 m).The Darjeeling range extends from the Terai region in the South to steep mountains in the North.
It also called the Ghum range. The world heritage Toy Train of Darjeeling runs from Siliguri to Darjeeling through Ghum (2247 m), the highest railway station in the world. Tiger Hills (2567 m) is the highest peak of Darjeeling range from where Mount Kanchenjunga (8586 m) can be seen. Hilltown of Kurseong also lies in this range.
ii) Eastern Mountain Region In the Eastern mountain region, Richie (3121 m) is the highest peak. The Sinchula range of this region forms the boundary between Bhutan and Jalpaiguri. The main mountain pass of this region is Buxa Pass which joins India and Bhutan. Other important peaks are Renigango and Chota Sinchula. The city of Kalimpong lies here.
2. The Western Plateau The Western plateau and the adjoining uplands cover an area comprising the whole of Purulia district, the Western part of Birbhum, Bankura, and Bardhaman districts and West Midnapore district. This region is a part of the Chhotanagpur plateau. This plateau consists of small hills which are called Dungi or Tila. Important hills in this region are Ayodhya and Baghmundi in Purulia district. Gorgaburu (677 m) is the highest peak of the Ayodhya hill. Some other hills of this region are Panchet and Bhandari of Purulia district, Belpahari of West Midnapore, Mama-Bhagne, and Mathurkali of Birbhum district and Susunia and Biharinath of Bankura district. Many rivers rise from the Chotanagpur plateau area. They have short courses and are mostly rainfed. The rivers flow West to East.
The region between the Kansai and Subarnarekha rivers in Purulia district of this plateau is the most elevated portion. A hot water spring at Bakreswar also lies in the district of Birbhum.
- The Plains of the North and South Region This region extends from Siliguri to the coast of Bay of Bengal. It is the largest region of West Bengal which makes the state a fertile agricultural state. This region is divided into parts i.e. Plains of North Bengal and Plains of South Bengal.
Plains of North Bengal
This region covers an area from Siliguri to the North bank of the river Ganges i.e. Malda district. This region has the following two sub-divisions.
- Terai This region is also called duars. It is made up of sand, gravels and pebbles brought down by the Himalayan rivers like the Teesta, Torsa, Raidak, Jaldhaka and several other small rivulets. The general height of this region is 80 to 100 m. The Teesta river has divided this area into two parts. The Western part is known as Terai and the Eastern part is known as Duars.
The duars region is further subdivided into Siliguri or Western duars, middle or Jalpaiguri duars, and Eastern or Alipur duars. This region extends to the Siliguri division of Darjeeling district, North and Eastern parts of Jalpaiguri district (except Buxa-Jayanti), and the upper region of Cooch Behar district.
- Northern Plain This region extends from the Southern end of the Terai region to the Northern bank of Ganges. This region is divided into three categories.
i) Diara The area of new alluvium brought by Kalindi river is known as Diara. It covers the Western part of the Malda district.
ii) Barendrabhumi A substantial part in the South of West Dinajpur and in the North-East of Malda is built up with old alluvium which is called Barind or Barendrabhumi.
iii) Tal The lakes or wetlands created by floodwater is known as Tals. The areas between the Mahananda and Kalindi rivers are prone to flood due to which Tals are created in these areas.
Plains of South Bengal
The lower course of the Ganga river creates the delta plains. These plains are fertile and form the entire portion of South Bengal. This region has been classified into four sub-divisions:
- Delta Plain The river Ganges forms the delta into three distinct parts i.e. old delta, mature delta, and active delta.
i) Moribund Delta Plain District of Nadia and Eastern part of Murshidabad district lie in the old delta region of Moribund delta plain. Here, the delta is completely formed.
This region has been transformed by the erosion and deposition of numerous rivers and small canals. This region is locally known as Bagdi.
ii) Mature Delta Plain Hooghly, Howrah plains of Burdwan, and East Midnapore lie in the mature delta region. Here also the delta region is completely formed but is newer than old delta plain.
iii. Active Delta Plain South-Eastern part of South 24-Parganas and the
The southern part of North 24-Parganas lies inactive delta where the formation of the delta is an ongoing process. New islands are also formed like Purbasha to the South of this region.
- Rahr Plain This region lies between the delta plain and the Western plateau.
This region is formed by the silt brought by the tributaries of Mayurakashi, Ajay Damodar, and Rupnarayan rivers. These rivers flow over the Western plateau that is made up of laterite soil which makes the soil of this region red in color. This region is about 50 to 100 m above the sea level. It covers Eastern Bankura, Bardhaman, Birbhum, Western Murshidabad, and West Midnapore. This region is also called Rangamati which means red soil.
- Sandy Coastal Plain This is a coastal strip along the Bay of Bengal in EastMidnapore. This region is made up of sand and mud deposited by rivers and wind. As a result of deposition, many sand dunes have been formed. Digha and Kanthi or Contai are important sea beaches in the sandy coastal plains.
- Sundarbans Plains This region covers the Southern part of North and South 24-Parganas. Alluvial low plains, muddy and saline water, numerous tributaries, islands, and estuaries are the main features of this region. This is an extremely low-lying area covered by mangrove forest known as Sundarbans. It is the largest Mangrove forest in the world. These plains are named after reddish color trees ‘Sundari’ that are the main trees found in this area. It is also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Many tidal rivers like Bartala, Saptamukhi, Jamina, Malta, and Gosaba are included in this region.
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