The coastal plains of India lie on both sides of peninsular India. The eastern coastal plains of India are along the Arabian Sea and the western coastal plains of India are along the Bay of Bengal. The eastern coastal plains extend from West Bengal to the southernmost point of Kanyakumari and the western coastal plains extend from the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat to the southernmost point of Kanyakumari. As it is clear the coastal plains of India, meet at the peninsular tip at Kanyakumari, also the southernmost tip of the Indian mainland. The coastal plains of India exist in-between the long-range mountain ranges and the water bodies on each side. The eastern coastal plains exist in-between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal and the western coastal plains exist between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea.
What is a Coastal Plain?
A coastal plain is a flat low-lying area of land, which is adjacent to the sea coast. Geographically speaking, a coastal plain is a low-relief landmass that is surrounded by the sea or an ocean on one side and the highlands on the other. Thus, they are bounded seaward because of the shoreline and landward because of the highlands. As one follows from the sea to the highlands, there is a gradual increase in the elevation of the land area rising gently in a series of flat-land terraces separated by scraps or hills with altitudes reaching 100m-300m.
Coastal Plains of India and How they are Formed?
The story of the coastal plains of India and how they are formed is an interesting one from the viewpoint of geography. The Indian subcontinent was part of a supercontinent called the Gondwanaland about 140 million years ago. As the supercontinent split, the Indian tectonic landmass got isolated and over millions of years travelled towards the Eurasian plate and eventually combined with it. Thus, the regular and quite straight coastline of India is the result of the breaking up of the Gondwanaland during the Cretaceous period. Because of this breaking, it not only gave rise to the coast-line in the south but with it the coastal plains of India also came into existence.
As is already known the coastal plains of India are divided into the following two coastal plains:
Eastern Coastal Plains
Western Coastal Plains
Both the coastal plains together form a coastline of 7516.6km. This coastline includes the Indian mainland coastline with a length of 6100km and the shorelines of the Lakshadweep and Andaman-Nicobar islands. The coastal plains of India are a part of 13 state and union territories of India. Altogether the coastal plains is a result of a beautiful formation of landmass because of the location of the three huge water bodies surrounding the Indian subcontinent.
Both the eastern coastal plains and western coastal plains are shown in the given figure:
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Both the coastal plains are further explained below:
Eastern Coastal Plains
The eastern coastal plains stretch from West Bengal in the north to the southern tip of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, in the south. The coastal plains also include the states of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. As mentioned above they lie between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal. The region covers deltas formed by the rivers of Mahanadi, Krishna, Godavari and Kaveri spread throughout the southeast peninsula. These deltas of the eastern coastal plains are very fertile. An example of this is the delta of the river Krishna which is known as the ‘Granary of South India’.
The eastern coastal plains can be further subdivided into the following three coasts:
The Utkal Coast: They extend from Chilka Lake to the Kollur Lake covering a very wide area. It is the recipient of heavy rainfall owing to the Eastern Ghats. Rice, coconut and banana are some of the major crops for cultivation.
Andhra Coast: It extends from Kollur Lake in the north to Pulicat Lake in the south. It covers the basin area of the Krishna and Godavari rivers.
Coromandel Coast: It falls in between Pulicat Lake and Kanyakumari. It also received high rainfall because of the north-east monsoon, especially during the winter season.
When asked to name the states union territories forming the eastern coastline the answer can be given from above as West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Western Coastal Plains
The western coastal plains extend from Gujarat in the north to the state of Kerala in the South. In-between it covers the states of Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka. Although it covers a length of 1500 km, the western coastal plains are very narrow as compared to their counterpart in the east with a width of 10 km to 25 km. The Bombay Coast is the widest area of the western coastal plains. Significant features of these coastal plains include oil-rich areas and beautiful lagoons in the Malabar Coast which are attractive tourist destinations. Even they receive heavy rainfall due to the Western Ghats during the southwest monsoon.
The western coastal plains can be further divided into the following areas:
Kachchh and Kathiawar Coast: Kachchh formed from the silt deposition by the Indus is covered with shallow water during the monsoon season. It is divided into the Great Rann of Kutch and the Little Rann of Kutch in the east. Located to the south of Kutch comes the Kathiawar coast.
Konkan Coast: It extends from Daman union territory in the north to the state of Goa in the south. The major crops that grow in these coastal areas are rice and cashew nuts.
Kanada Coast: A iron-rich area this region lies in-between the Marmagaon and Mangalore regions.
Malabar Coast: Extending between Mangalore and Kanyakumari it is a relatively broad area and is well-known for the lagoons running parallel to the southern coast in Kerala.
In India coastal plains do not offer many port areas but host many attractive sites for tourist destinations. Along with that, they are recipients of high rainfall and thus are centres of many economical, agricultural and pisciculture activities. A very brief description about coastal plains of India is given in this article which also offers an insight into the peculiarities of the Indian landmass.