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Indo-Gangetic plain

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The Indo-Gangetic Plain is a rich, fertile and ancient land encompassing most of northern and eastern India, the most populous parts of Pakistan, and virtually all of Bangladesh. The Plains get their names from the rivers Ganges and Indus. It stretches from Kashmir in the north, the Punjab region of Pakistan and Aravalli Range, Rajasthan in the west, Himalayan foothills in the east and the Deccan Plateau in the south. The fertile Terai region is the Nepalese extension of the Plain.

The rivers encompassed are the Ganga (Ganges), Indus, Beas, Yamuna, Gomti, Ravi, Chambal, Sutlej, Chenab. The soil is rich in silts, and is one of the most intensely farmed areas of the world. Even rural areas here are densely populated.

Farming on the Indo-Gangetic Plain primarily consists of rice and wheat grown in rotation. Other crops include maize, sugarcane, and cotton. The main source of rainfall is the southwest monsoon, which is normally sufficient for agriculture except for occasional droughts. The many rivers flowing out of the Himalayas provide water for major irrigation works.

The region is also known for the Indus Valley Civilisation and is responsible for the birth of ancient India. The flat and fertile terrain has facilitated the repeated rise and expansion of empires, including Magadha and the Maurya empire, the Gupta empire, Kanauj, the Sultanate of Delhi, and the Mughal Empire, all of which had their demographic and political centres in the Indo-Gangetic plain. Both British and independent India also have their centres here (in first Calcutta and then New Delhi).

The languages of the Indo-Gangetic plain are overwhelmingly Indo-Aryan; today, Hindi and Urdu (and spoken Hindustani) are the major lingua francas of this region. There is in addition a great variety of regional languages, which in several cases form a dialect chain with one another. Both Hinduism and Islam are extremely well established here; the Indo-Gangetic plain is also the birthplace of Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Among the largest cities of the Indo-Gangetic plain are Kolkata, Delhi, Karachi, Dhaka, Rawalpindi-Islamabad, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Kanpur, and Patna.

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