Geography of Uttar Pradesh
Sharing geographical boundaries with Nepal in its Northern region and Uttarakhand in the North East along with Himachal Pradesh in the North West, Uttar Pradesh’s Western boundary is made up of Haryana with Rajasthan being in the South West as well as Madhya Pradesh being in the South West. Towards the South lies Jharkhand and Bihar in the East. The coordinates are 230.52’N and 310.28’N latitudes and 770 3’N and 840 39’E longitudes. With respect to area it is the fifth largest state in the country and in terms of population it ranks at number one.
Physical Features of Uttar Pradesh
In terms of geographical features Uttar Pradesh can be divided into three distinctive regions. These are firstly, the Himalayan foothills in the North; secondly there is the Gangetic Plains in the central region and thirdly the Vindhya Hills and the plateau areas of the South. The salient features of these three are the Himalayan foothills also called the Shivalik foothills which have at times been referred to as the ‘Kandi Area’. The Gangetic Plain comprises a flat topography that has several physical features like lakes, rivers, ponds and a gradual gradient of two meters per square kilometer. It is because of the presence of the river-ystem of the two mighty rivers Ganga and Yamuna, that the soil here is highly fertile, alluvial soil. The Vindhya hills are formed of hard rock and there is a varying topography of plains, hills and valleys. It is an area having plentiful water resources.
Uttar Pradesh is truly a land of extremes. On the one hand are lofty peaks like Nanda Devi, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Dunagiri, Mount Kamet, Trishul and Bandarpunch and on the other are the vast plains that stretch for kilometers with only the trees and human settlements rising above the ground level. The occurrence of perpetual snow on the high peaks is the large reservoir of the perennially flowing rivers.
The rich fertile plains are cultivated for harvests of wheat, rice and sugarcane. While jute cultivation is also coming up in some areas there is plantation of tea on the slopes of the Dehradun hills. The entire area of the alluvial fertile plain can be divided into three separate sub-regions with the first being the eastern tract. It comprises fourteen districts which are prone to have periodic floods and droughts that have made them total scarcity riddled areas. The other two areas are the central region and the western region. The eastern tract is the worst placed geographically because it is frequented by floods, drought, water logging and hot winds. Besides the cash crops, the other harvests seen by the entire state are pearl millet, barley and gram. In the foothills region, however, there is the presence of rich black soil suitable for growing only cotton. Dry farming is practiced in the tract mostly because of erratic rainfall patterns and scanty water resources.
Flora, Fauna and Natural Resources of Uttar Pradesh
A significant, almost thirteen per cent of the total land area of the state is under forests cover. Three different types of flora exist on the three levels of the mountains. The topmost trees are the rhododendrons and Betula utilizes (bhojpatra) followed at the second level by silver fir, spruce, deodar, oak and chir. At the lowest levels are the sal and giant haldu trees. These trees are great natural resources for timber and by products like resins and turpentine. The other productive trees are the Sisso, used for furniture, Khairy for Katha; Sandal and gutel for wood used for making matchsticks and Kanji which is a great resource for the manufacturing plywood industry.
Then there is also babool which used in the tanning industry. Along with the trees there is the grass like bait and the bamboo which can be used in the papers industry. Tendu leave are used tightly rolled into thin bodies or Indian cigarettes. Cane is also used for making furniture and baskets. Besides, there are several medicinal and aromatic plants that thrive on the hilly slopes.
The animals and wildlife of Uttar Pradesh include wild bear, sloth bear, sambhar, tiger, jackal, leopard, jungle cat, squirrel, porcupine, monitor lizards and fox. There are a multitude of birds like jungle fowl, crow, black partridge, pigeon, house sparrow, dove, peafowl, quail, blue jay, mynah, bulbul, kite, woodpecker and kingfisher. This vast collection makes for a bird watchers’ paradise like the Jim Corbett National Park which is spread over the Ramnagar and Kalagarh forest division and is one of the greatest environmental niches of the world.