Topographical maps in ICSE Geography: Deciphering the symbols correctly
Maps form an important part of class 10 ICSE Geography syllabus. Among the different maps that a student is expected to comprehend and solve are Topographical maps or Topography sheets. Topography maps are different than normal political or physical maps. The major area of difference lies in its predominance with symbol. Normal maps are representational in nature whereas topographical maps are symbolic ones.
Maps are anyhow reduced representation of the real world and thus without some kind of symbol it is impossible to represent the real objects on paper. For a student taking the ICSE examination it is vital to understand the symbols well. A topography map is a combination of shapes and colors which are symbols themselves. For example, different colors define different type of land forms. A green colored area normally represents forest land. Yellow areas stand for cultivable lands and brown for hilly areas. Again some maps may have yellow for deserts. So how does a student make out these symbols?
Apparently these symbols are incomprehensible. If we look at these symbols individually often a student might not be able to decipher them correctly. To continue the above example, color yellow can represent desert or agricultural land and the particular land in question must be judged on the basis of the other features or symbols around it. So if there are no wells, tube wells, rivers or any other water body near the yellow marked land, a student can safely say that it is not an agricultural land because farmlands would also require water for irrigation. So a student can write the answer as ‘desert land’ though the color is yellow.
There are numerous symbols for physical features of land, transportation, vegetation, population, man-made structures, boundaries, water bodies, marine landscape and various others. Each segment includes hundreds of symbols. A teacher will mark out the important symbols to be memorized because it is impossible to remember all. Correct interpretation of the important symbols along with association with other symbols is sufficient to find the right answer for the topography questions.
Detailing is the key for making as well as interpreting topographical maps in ICSE Geography. For example, a given topographical sheet might be covered with circles. For the uninitiated this is impossible to decipher. But with some practice it can be found out that these circles represent the depth or the height of that part of the land. And the numbers beside the concentrating circle are actually the height of the land and this will in turn help the student to decipher the type of land in question that is flat lands, plateaus, hills or marshy lands. Also the distance and direction of fixed points or locations in the map are questions that a candidate is expected to answer.