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   INDIA… IN THE VERY BEGINNING - How the Indian Subcontinent was Formed


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Continents Adrift! 

Our story begins long, long ago. In fact, more than 210 million years ago. (One million = 10,00,000). It was a time when giant dinosaurs ruled the earth. They were the undisputed kings of the planet for 100 million years. So long was their reign, that we human beings find it more convenient to count their time period in Eras, rather than in years or even million years. At that time in the past, the earth itself did not resemble the planet as we know it now. There existed a huge land mass, called Pangaea (or as some scientists call it Gondwanaland), that lay across the sphere, running from the north pole to south pole, of our infant earth.

 The temperatures then were generally warmer -- allowing plants and animals to live at much higher northern and southern latitudes. Therefore, dinosaurs roamed across the land mass, and adapted themselves to live even in the regions near the extreme poles.

About 210 million years ago, the giant continent Pangaea, began to disintegrate and drift apart. Where the lands separated, the waters of the ocean rushed in to form new seas. Over the next 120 million years, the massive pieces of Pangaea drifted across the oceans of the earth, taking up new positions. 

North America and Europe, which had been a single land mass drifted apart, and the Atlantic Ocean spread out between then. The African Continent floated lazily for millions of years, before it joined up with Asia. Gradually, the world began to assume more of its modern-day appearance. 

In the beginning, the land that was to become India, lay almost at the South Pole of the earth, tucked in between two other land masses, that would eventually become Antarctica and Australia.

When the land mass broke up in the southern regions, Australia was set adrift. So, too, was the triangular plate, that would eventually become India. This plate of land floated steadily north, towards the mass of land that would one day become Asia. 

While the continents were adrift, the dinosaurs achieved the peak of their reign. They had ruled the earth for million years. But quite abruptly (in terms of the planet's life span) they disappeared from the face of the earth, never to be seen again.

The race of creatures that benefited the most from the disappearance of these terrible dinosaurs, was a group of tiny rat-like creatures -- the precursors of mammals and man.

As the floating Indian sub-continent approached Asia, the sea was forced out. Finally, about 50 million years ago, the two vast land masses met head on. As India rammed into Asia, there were terrible upheavals on both sides.

On the Asian side, the land was pushed upwards, creating the high lands of Tibet. On the Indian side, two giant slabs of rock were pushed up into the sky. These were to become the mighty Himalayas -- the highest mountains in the world. The force of collision of the floating land mass was so great that for millions of years, the land was in upheaval. During this time, the Himalayas were shaped. The rocks rose upwards and then tumbled aside -- again and again -- as fresh seismic activity shook the newly formed regions.

Finally, the force of collision of the floating land mass was exhausted. The Himalayas, as we now know them, had been formed. The remnants of the pre-historic oceans, that had closed in, were lifted thousands of feet high into the mountains and became the two great watersheds of the region.

Flowing to the east were the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. Flowing to the west were the five rivers, which formed the basin of the Indus Valleys. Along these river valleys, millions of years later, would grow some of the world's greatest civilizations. 

The sub-continent of India had been born!  


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