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Himachal Pradesh

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Geography of  Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh is situated in the heart of western Himalayas. The state is located in altitudes ranging from 450 meters to 6500 meters above sea level. It is veiled from the plains by the Shivalik range of mountains. Shivalik literally means the tresses of Lord Shiva. There is a general increase in elevation from west to east and from south to north. (Interactive map of Himachal Pradesh)

The physiographic divisions from south to north are 

        The outer Himalayas or the Shivaliks 

The Shivaliks consist of lower hills. These hills are composed of highly unconsolidated deposits which cause a high rate of erosion and deforestation. 

        The lesser Himalayas or the central zone 

The lesser Himalayas are marked by a gradual elevation towards the Dhauladhar and the Pir Panjal ranges. The rise is more abrupt in the Shimla hills, to the south of which is the high peak of church-Chandni.

        The great Himalayan and Zaskar or the northern zone

The great Himalayan range runs along the eastern boundary and is cut across by the Sutlej. Some of the famous passes in this range are Kangla, Bara Lacha, Parang and Pin Parbati. The Zaskar range is the eastern most range and separates Kinnaur and Spiti from Tibet. It has peaks rising over 6500mtrs.  Shilla and Riwo Phargyul are the highest among its peaks. There are many glaciers or Shigri (local name) over the Zaskar and the great Himalayan ranges.

The climate varies from semi-tropical to semi-arctic from place to place depending on the altitude of the region. The months from April to June are pleasant and comfortable at higher altitude and humid in the lower hills. The months of July to September are the month of rainfall. Himachal Pradesh experiences average annual rainfalls of about 160-cm. the entire state becomes lush green and all the springs and streams are filled again. The winter season begins from October to February and is very severe. Heavy snowfall occurs during this season.  

The 63.9 % of the total area is under the thick forest cover. The vegetation is a blend of the Ban Oak Forest, Moist Deodar Forest, Western Mixed Coniferous Forest, Moist Temperate Deciduous Forest, Himalayan Alpine Pastures, and Rhododendron Scrub Forest. There are several major rivers running through the state including the Beas River, which flows through the Kullu Valley, the Chenab River in Lahaul and Spiti and the Spiti River, which joins the Sutlej River in Kinnaur.



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