Topographical maps are the maps with detailed and accurate graphical representation of natural and cultural features on the ground. Various features like mountains, hills, plateaus and plains are found on the earth’s surface.
The methods used to show relief features on the maps are hachures, hill shading, layer tints, bench marks, spot heights and contours.
Contours are the imaginary lines joining places having the same elevation above the mean sea level.
Topographical maps show varying degrees of slopes. Closely spaced contours represent a steep slope. Widely spaced contours represent a gentle slope.
The slopes can be classified into gentle slope, steep slope, concave slope, convex slope and irregular slope.
Different types of landforms are presented differently on a topographical map depending on their slopes, like conical hill, plateau, V-shaped valley, U-shaped valley, gorge, waterfall, etc.
Settlements, buildings, roads and railways are important cultural features shown on topographical sheets through conventional signs, symbols and colours.
Map interpretation involves the study of factors that explain the causal relationship among several features shown the map.
A topographical sheet is usually interpreted under the following heads-marginal information, relief and drainage, land use, means of transport and communication and, human settlement.
Thus, with the help of the topographical maps, various natural and cultural features can be interpreted along with their relationship with each other.