CHAPTER-4 : Geographical Setting

Ancient History of India
Short Notes or Revision Notes 


The Landmass of Ancient India

Geological Formation

  • Part of Gondwanaland, a supercontinent with Africa, South America, etc.
  • Gondwanaland and Laurussia (North America, Europe, Asia) once formed Pangaea.
  • Tectonic movements separated landmasses, creating peninsular India.
  • Himalayan upliftment occurred in four phases, final one in Pleistocene (2 million – 12000 BCE).

Geographic Scope

  • Similar in size to Europe (excluding Russia).
  • Modern nation-states: India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan.

Monsoons and Geography

Monsoon Seasons

  • Southwest Monsoon (June-October): crucial for Kharif crops in North India.
  • Northeast Monsoon (Mid-October to Mid-December): brings rain to coastal Tamil Nadu.

The Himalayas

  • Northern boundary, protecting India from cold Siberian winds.
  • Passes: Khyber, Bolan, Gomal (Hindu Kush extension)

Western Boundaries

  • Sulaiman Mountains (southward continuation of Himalayas) with Bolan Pass.
  • Kiirthar Ranges (Baluchistan) with Bolan Pass.

Regions of Ancient India

River Basins

  • Indus and Western Gangetic Plains: wheat & barley
  • Middle & Lower Gangetic Plains: rice (staple diet in Gujarat & South India)

Cultural Flourishing

  • Indus Valley: Harappan Culture
  • North-West Frontier Province & Punjab: Vedic Culture (later flourished in Western Gangetic Basin)
  • Mid-Gangetic Basin: Post-Vedic Culture (iron use)
  • Lower Gangetic Valley & North Bengal: Guptas Era
  • Brahmaputra Valley (Assam): Early Medieval Times

Eastern Peninsula

  • Kalinga: Coastal Orissa (Mahanadi to Godavari)
  • Andhra Pradesh: Godavari to Krishna
  • Kaveri Valley: South Pennar to Vaigai

Coastal Regions

  • Coromandel Coast (East): Arikamedu, Mahabalipuram, Kaveripattanam
  • Malabar Coast (West)

Deccan Plateau

  • Maharashtra: Tapi/Damanganga to Bhima
  • Karnataka: Bhima/Upper Krishna to Tungabhadra
  • Kerala: Southernmost coastal area
  • Thar Desert: West of Aravallis (Rajasthan)
  • Gujarat: Northwestern Deccan (includes Kathiawar peninsula)
  • Madhya Pradesh: South of Ganga-Yamuna Doab (Chambal, Son, Vindhya, Narmada)
    • Eastern MP: Vindhyas
    • Western MP (Malwa): Narmada Valley


Natural Resources and Cultural Divide

Natural Barriers

  • Vindhya mountains: separated North (Indo-Aryan languages) and South (Dravidian languages) India.


  • Copper:
    • Richest mines – Chhotanagpur plateau (Singhbhum district)
    • Khetri mines (Rajasthan) – used by Harappans and later civilizations
    • Used in Bihar for tools and bronzes (Pala era)
  • Tin:
    • Possible sources – Afghanistan, Gaya, Hazaribagh, Ranchi
  • Iron: Abundance in Avanti (Ujjain) contributed to its rise (6th-5th centuries BCE)
  • Lead:
    • Andhra – large lead resources used for Satavahana coins (1st-2nd centuries CE)
    • Possible source – Rajasthan towns
  • Silver:
    • Punch-marked coins (early coins)
    • Mines – Kharagpur hills (Monghyr district)
  • Gold:
    • Kolar goldfields (Karnataka)
    • Found as dust deposits (placers)
  • Precious Stones: Pearls (Central India, Orissa, South India)

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