The predominant geographical features of northern India are the Indo-Gangetic plain which spans the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Punjab, the Himalayas which lie in the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir and the Thar desert which lies mainly in the state of Rajasthan. The state of Madhya Pradesh has large areas under forest cover as do Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Chattisgarh. The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand receive sustained snowfall in winter months.
Although predominantly subtropical, with cool winters, hot summers and moderate monsoons, overall North India is one of the most climatically diverse regions on Earth. Extreme temperatures have ranged from in Dras, Jammu and Kashmir to 50.6 °C (123 °F) in Alwar, Rajasthan.
Hinduism and Islam predominate in North India, although Sikhism is predominant in Punjab. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India with a majority Muslim population. The states of Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh are predominantly Hindu, while Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have religiously diverse populations.
Linguistically, North India is dominated by Indo-Aryan languages. By definition, the Indo-Aryan dialects native to North India proper are the Hindi dialects (forming the "Hindi belt"). These are divided into Western Hindi and Eastern Hindi, besides the Pahari dialects in the north, the Rajasthani dialects in the west and the Bihari dialects in the east. Other Indo-Aryan dialects (Eastern zone, Southern zone, Northwestern zone) are spoken in the wider sphere of north Indian influence.
The Hindi belt covers the following Indian states:
The Union Territory of Chandigarh and the National Capital Territory of Delhi also lie in this belt. The states of Gujarat, Punjab, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have considerable number of Hindi-speaking people, but are not regarded as a part of the Hindi belt. In the Vindhya range, the southern delimiter of North India, pockets of Dravidian (Gondi, Kurukh) and Austro-Asiatic (Munda) speakers are found within the Hindi speaking area.
North Indian original vegetation is predominantly deciduous forest because of its tropical location, of the deciduous trees Sal and Teak are the most important. The Western Himalayan region is abound in Chirpine and other conifers deodar, blue pine, spruce, silver fir, and junipers. The Eastern Himalayan region consists of oaks, laurels, maples, rhododendrons, alder, and birch and dwarf willows. The floral wealth ranges from the Alpine to the temperate thorn, from the coniferous to the evergreen, from scrubs to deciduous forests, from thick tropical jungles to cool temperate woods.
There are around 500 varieties of mammals, 2000 species of birds and 30,000 types of insects and a wide variety of fish, amphibians and reptiles are found in the country. The animal species in North India includes Elephant, Tiger, Leopard, Sambar, Chital, Hog Deer, Porcupine, Wild Pig, Fox and Rhesus Monkeys, highly endangered Caracal, Jungle Cat, Hyena, Jackal, Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, Langur, Spotted Deer, Indian Gazelle, Sambar (Asiatic stag) and Nilgai (blue bull).
A huge number of snake varieties, lizards, ghariyal and crocodiles account for the reptile count. Snakes include the deadly King cobras to the equally poisonous Kraits. Scorpions and insects are found in plenty in this region. Useful insects include the bees, silkworms and the Lac insect. A huge number of snake varieties, lizards, ghariyal and crocodiles account for the reptile count. Snakes include the deadly King cobras to the equally poisonous Kraits. Scorpions and insects are found in plenty in this region. Useful insects include the bees, silkworms and the Lac insect.
The birds of North India includes the beautiful peacock to the parrots, and thousands of immigrant birds. Common Indian birds are Pheasants, Geese Ducks, Mynahs, Parakeets, Pigeons, Cranes, and Hornbills. Great pied hornbill, Pallas's fishing eagle, Grey-headed fishing eagle, Red-thighed Falconet are some of the endangered birds found in Himalyan region. Other birds found in this region are Tawny Fish Owl, Great Hornbill, Scaly-bellied Woodpecker, Red-breasted Parakeet, Himalayan Swiftlet, Stork-billed Kingfisher and Himalayan Rubythroat.
The most important National Parks and Tiger reserves of North India includes:-
Corbett National Park: It was established in 1936 along the banks of the Ramganga River. It is India's first National Park, and was designated a Project Tiger Reserve in the year 1973. Cradled in the foothills of the Himalayas, it comprises a total area of 500 km² out of which 350 km² is core reserve. This park is known not only for its rich and varied wildlife but also for its scenic beauty.
Kanha National Park: The lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines of Kanha provided inspiration to Rudyard Kipling for his famous novel "Jungle Book". The Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh came into being in 1955 and forms the core of the Kanha Tiger Reserve, created in 1974 under Project Tiger.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary: It is one of the finest bird parks in the world, it is a reserve that offers protection to faunal species as well. Nesting indigenous water birds as well as migratory water birds and waterside birds, this sanctuary is also inhabited by Sambar, Chital, Nilgai and Boar.
Dudhwa National Park: It covers an area of 500 km² along the Indo-Nepal border in Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh, is best known for the Barasingha or Swamp Deer. The grasslands and woodlands of this park, consist mainly of sal forests. The barasingha is found in the southwest and southeast regions of the park. Among the big cats, tigers abound at Dudhwa. There are also a few leopards. The other animals found in large numbers, are the Indian one-horned rhinoceros and the wild elephant, jungle cats, leopard cats, fishing cats, jackals, civets, sloth bears, sambar, otters, crocodiles and chital.
Ranthambhore National Park: It spans an area of 400 km² with an estimated head count of thirty two tigers is perhaps India’s finest example of Project Tiger, a conservation effort started by the government in an attempt to save the dwindling number of tigers in India. Situated near the small town of Sawai Madhopur it boasts of variety of plant and animal species of Northern India.
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