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Role Geography in Shaping Indian History

Geography played important role in shaping the history of India.

Role of Rivers.

  • Rivers provide water for drinking, agriculture and animal rearing. That is why most of the early civilizations emerged in river valleys. Eg: Egyptian civilization in Nile valley, Mesopotamian civilization in Tigris- Euphrates valley.

  • In India, early civilizations such as Harappan civilization and Vedic civilization prospered in river valleys.

Harappan Sites along River Valleys

  • North and North-West of India has most number of rivers. That is why most of the Indian population resides in these areas.

  • On the negative side, the floods caused by the rivers contributed to the decline of civilizations. Eg; The city of Mohen Jo Daro was destroyed by river floods more than 7 times.

Role of Fertile Plains

  • Agriculture was the most important source of income for people and rulers during ancient period.

  • Fertile plains can provide agricultural surplus and thereby enough resources for the existence of big empires.

Northern Plains

  • In India, the biggest and most powerful empires emerged in northern plain. Eg: Magadha empire, Gupta empire, Delhi Sultanate, Mughal Empire,etc.

  • Capitals of all the empires were in northern plains. Eg: Patliputra was the capital of Mauryan Empire and Gupta Empire; Kanauj was the capital of Harsha.

Gupta Empire; in Northern Plains

Role of Hills and Mountains

The Himalayas.

The Himalayas

  • The Himalayas constitute the northern border of India.

  • They obstruct cold Siberian winds from the north and thus provides a relatively warm climate in India. This warm climate has ensured high population in India.

  • They obstructed foreign invaders from the north. Till 1962, there were no foreign invasions on India from the north.

The Hindukush and Sulaiman Ranges

The Hindukush Ranges

  • The Hindukush and sulaiman ranges constitute the north- western border of Indian subcontinent. There are several passes across this mountain range such as Khyber pass, Gomal pass, etc.

  • These passes allowed the movement of merchants and traders. So India could have trade relations with the western world through land route.

  • These passes are very narrow so that armies can cross it only in few numbers. It limited the number of foreign invasions through the north-west. Aryans came to India through the north-west in 1500 BC. For the next thousand years, there was no foreign invasion through the north-west. The next invasion occurred in 6 th century BC by Achaemenian (Persian) rulers.


The Vindhyas

  • The Vindhyas acted as a natural barrier between North- India and Peninsular India.

  • So Peninsular India could remain free of the political upheavals going on in North- India. Traditional Indian culture could be preserved in South India. Eg: Most of the Indian classical dance forms are from south- Indian states. In North – india, there was no progress in the field of dance during the period of Delhi Sultans and Mughal rulers.

Role of Mountain valeys

  • It was difficult for the rulers of North-India to reach upto the mountain valleys.

  • These mountain valleys acted as safe havens for the Indian culture. Eg: Many of the manuscripts of ancient time are found from Nepal valley.

Role of Climate

  • Indian climate is relatively warm because the Himalayas obstruct the cold winds from Siberia.

  • This warm climate ensures large variety of flora and fauna in India. It facilitated the progress in agriculture. Due this, large empires could rise in India.

  • The warm climate ensures high population in India because the survival rate is more in warm climate. The rulers could have large number of soldiers in the army and could pursue the policy of territorial expansion.

  • The warm climate provides more number of active working days. In India, people get more than 300 active working days in a year. It facilitated the progress in the fields of agriculture and industry. Because of this, india could remain as one of the largest economy in the world during the ancient and medieval period.

  • Some historians opines that, the warm climate had made Indians comfort- loving people. That is why foreign invaders could easily defeat Indians.

Role of Coastlines

  • India is having one of the longest coastline in the world.

  • There are large number of ports in the east and west coasts. Indian merchants could use these ports for trade and commerce with the outside world. Huge amount of foreign wealth came to India through this trade and commerce. Due to this, powerful kingdoms could emerge in India.

Ancient Ports in India

Role of Desert

Desert Region in Western India

  • Western India has desert region. There is resource deficiency in this region.

  • Due to the resource deficiency, powerful kingdoms could not emerge in western India. In Gujrat and Rajasthan region, only small Rajput kingdoms existed. It was the area of political fragmentation.

  • The resource deficiency ensured that, people of this region were of hardy character. Rajput warriors were famous for their hardy character.



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