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The Tip of India: Tamil Nadu and Kerala

February 20th, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Southern tip of India - February 19th, 2009

Southern tip of India - February 19th, 2009

The tip of India is divided into two states: Tamil Nadu, the more orange-colored terrain to the East, and Kerala, the greener land to the West. The Bay of Bengal can be seen to the right, the Arabian Sea to the left.

Tamil Nadu covers an area of 130,058 square kilometres (50,216 sq mi), and is the eleventh largest state in India. The southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula is located in Tamil Nadu.

The western, southern and north western parts  are hilly and rich in vegetation. Tamil Nadu is the only state in India which has both the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats, these two ranges meet at the Nilgiri hills.

Tamil Nadu is heavily dependent on monsoon rains, and thereby is prone to droughts when the monsoons fail. The climate of the state ranges from dry sub-humid to semi-arid.

The Eastern parts are fertile coastal plains and the Northern parts are a mix of hills and plains. The Central and the South Central regions are arid plains and receive less rainfall than the other regions.

The Western Ghats dominate the entire western border with Kerala, effectively blocking much of the rain bearing clouds of the South West Monsoon from entering the state.

Kerala is wedged between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats. Its coast runs for some 580 km (360 miles), while the state itself varies between 35 and 120 km (22–75 miles) in width.

Geographically, Kerala can be divided into three climatically distinct regions: the eastern highlands (rugged and cool mountainous terrain), the central midlands (rolling hills), and the western lowlands (coastal plains).

Eastern Kerala consists of high mountains, gorges and deep-cut valleys immediately west of the Western Ghats’ rain shadow.

Kerala’s western coastal belt is relatively flat, and is criss-crossed by a network of interconnected brackish canals, lakes, estuaries, and rivers known as the Kerala Backwaters.  Kerala’s rivers face many problems, including summer droughts, the building of large dams, sand mining, and pollution.

With 120–140 rainy days per year, Kerala has a wet and maritime tropical climate influenced by the seasonal heavy rains of the southwest summer monsoon. In eastern Kerala, a drier tropical wet and dry climate prevails.

In summers, most of Kerala is prone to gale force winds, storm surges, cyclone-related torrential downpours, occasional droughts, and rises in sea level and storm activity resulting from global warming.

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