What is the terrain and geography like in India?
India--"Bharat" to most Indians--is the seventh largest country in the world. The Lakshadweep Islands off the southwest coast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 750 miles off the southeast coast in the Bay of Bengal, belong to India.
India stretches more than 2,000 miles from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to the southern tip of Tamil Nadu. It is 1,800 miles from Gujarat in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east.
The topography is dominated in the far north by the majestic Himalayas, which include the world's highest peaks. From the Himalayan foothills to the Vindhyachal Range in central India spreads the vast, fertile, heavily populated Gangetic Plain. The sacred Ganges (Ganga) and the Yamuna Rivers dissect the Plain. South of the Vindhyachal Range lies the Deccan Plateau. The Western and Eastern Ghats lie along the southern coastlines.
The climate in India ranges from Arctic-like conditions in the high Himalayas, to blast furnace heat in many parts of the country during the summer, and heavy monsoon downpours during the rainy season. At other times, the weather can be mild and delightfully pleasant.
New Delhi has an altitude of 700 feet above sea level in north central India. The weather in the capital is most pleasant during the temperate months of October-November and February, periods characterized by cool nights and warm days. Although the winter months of December and January are usually fairly temperate, the it can become surprisingly cold at night. From April through mid-July daytime temperatures often top 110F. The nights cool off somewhat, but are still hot. From mid-July to September, the occasional monsoon rains combine high humidity with high temperatures.
Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), India's financial capital, is a port on the Arabian Sea in the western state of Maharashtra. On a map, Mumbai appears as a peninsula (actually two islands) off the west coast of India. A great natural harbor provides 75 square miles of sheltered deep water.
Mumbai has a tropical climate with three distinct seasons. The heat and high humidity of April, May, and October make life quite uncomfortable. The monsoon season, June to September, brings a welcome relief although the humidity remains high. An average of 77 inches of rain falls during the monsoon. Late November through February is cooler, although the days are still hot and sunny.
Calcutta, the capital of the state of West Bengal, is situated on the Hooghly River about 80 miles north of the Bay of Bengal. Because the city is built on near sea-level marshland, Calcutta and its suburbs suffer from poor drainage and periodic flooding--especially during the monsoon, June to October. From November through February, temperatures are pleasant. The heat begins in March, and occasional "nor'westers" bring welcome cool winds and rain from the Himalayas through May. Then the overcast sky of the monsoon brings relief from the glare of the sun, even though the temperature remains high.
Chennai (formerly known as Madras), the capital of Tamil Nadu, lies on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, about 900 miles north of the Equator. Chennai has a medium-sized artificial harbor and a wide sandy beach that extends for several hundred miles along the coast. The surrounding countryside is a largely flat, coastal plain devoted to rice cultivation. It is green and fertile during part of the year but dry and dusty during the rainless spring and early summer months.
The climate is tropical throughout the year. December and January are relatively cool months. The weather heats up drastically from March through June. Unfortunately, as the temperature rises, so does the humidity. Premonsoon rains bring slight relief in July/August, and the temperatures decrease slowly until the cooler season returns in November. During the hottest months, sea breezes occasionally lessen the discomfort.
Chennai averages 48 inches of rain annually, although droughts occur when the monsoon fails. Most rain falls from October through December, but frequent showers can occur from May to September. Occasionally, cyclones strike the coast.