The Great Indian Plateau, the Central Highlands, the Peninsular Plateau Part 4

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The Great Indian Plateau

The Great Indian Plateau lies to the South of the Great Northern Plains. This is the largest physiographic division of our country. It covers an area of about 16 lakh sq. km i.e., about half of the total area of the country. Aravalli hills mark the north-western boundary of the plateau region. Its northern and north-eastern boundary is marked by the northern edge of the Bundelkhand Plateau, Kaimur, and Rajmahal Hills. The Western Ghats or Sahyadri and the Eastern Ghats mark the western and eastern boundaries respectively of this Great Plateau. Most of the area of the plateau has a height of more than 400 metres above sea level. The highest point of plateau region is the Anaimudi peak (2965 m). The general slope of this plateau is towards east.

The Great Plateau is the part of very ancient landmass, called Gondwana land. From the earliest time it has been above the level of the sea. Therefore, it has been subjected to large scale denudation. Its mountains are generally of relic type. They are composed of very hard rocks, which have withstood the ravages of denudation more effectively than the surrounding regions. Because of their old age, all the rivers have almost attained their base level and have built up broad and shallow valleys. The dominant rock formations, especially those in the southern parts, are of metamorphic origin with frequent occurrences of granites.

River Narmada divides the peninsular block of India into two parts. The region lying to the north of the Narmada is called the Central Highlands and the region lying to the south of Narmada is called the peninsular plateau, more commonly referred to as the Deccan Plateau.

Barring Narmada and Tapti all the major rivers lying to the south of the Vindhyas flow eastwards to fall into the Bay of Bengal. The westward flow of Narmada and Tapi is assigned to the fact that they have been flowing through faults or rifts which were probably caused when the Himalayas began to emerge from the Tethys Sea of the olden times.

The Central Highlands: It extends between river Narmada and Great Northern Plains. The Aravalli form the west-north-western edge of the Central Highlands. These hills extend from Gujarat, through Rajasthan to Delhi in the north-easterly direction for a distance of about 700 km. The height of these hills is about 1500 metres in southwest while near Delhi they are hardly 400 metres high. The highest peak of the Aravalli hills is Gurushikhar (1722 m) near Mt. Abu. Mt. Abu on the border of Gujarat and Rajasthan is a beautiful hill station. Malwa plateau forms the dominant part of the Central Highlands.

It lies to the southeast of Aravalli and to the north of Vindhyachal Range. River Chambal, Betwa, and Ken drain the Malwa Plateau before they join Yamuna. The part of the Central Highlands which extends to the east of Malwa Plateau is known as Bundelkhand and is further followed by Baghelkhand and the well-known Chhotanagpur Plateau. Vindhyachal Range forms the southern edge of Malwa Plateau. The Mahadeo Hills, Kaimur Hills and Maikal Range lie towards further east. The slope of the Vindhyachal Range towards Narmada valley is absolutely steep and forms escarpments. It only confirms that Narmada flows through a rift valley. This range has very few passes. Due to this fact the Vindhyas acted as a barrier between northern and southern parts of India for a long time in the past.

The valley of Narmada is situated between the Satpura and the Vindhyas. River Narmada flows from east to west in this valley and falls into the Arabian Sea. This valley has been formed due to the subsidence of the land mass between the Vindhyas and the Satpura.

Peninsular Block of India

Peninsular Block of India

Peninsular Block of India

The Peninsular Plateau (Deccan Plateau): This physiographic division is the largest region of the Great Indian Plateau. The shape of this plateau is triangular. One of the sides of this triangle is marked by the line joining Kanyakumari with Rajmahal Hills and this line passes through the Eastern Ghats. The second arm is marked by the Satpura Range, Mahadeo Hills, Maikal Range, and the Rajmahal Hills. The third arm is marked by the Sahyadri or the Western Ghats. The area of this Peninsular Plateau is about 7 lakh sq. km and the height ranges from 500-1000 metres above sea level.

The Sahyadri Range forms the sharp edge of the Peninsular Plateau. Due to its location on the western margin of the Peninsular Plateau, the Sahyadri Range is also called the Western Ghats. The height of the Sahyadri increases from north to south. Anaimudi peak (2695m) situated in Kerala is the highest peak of southern India. Anaimudi is a sort of tri-junction of the Annamalai Range, the Cardamom Hills, and the Palani Hills. Kodai Kanal is a beautiful hill resort situated on the Palani Hills.

Eastern Ghats running from southwest to northeast form the eastern edge of the Peninsular Plateau. The Eastern Ghats joins the Sahyadri at the Nilgiri Hills bordering Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Udagamandalam (Ooty) situated on the Nilgiri is the famous hill station of south India and lies in Tamil Nadu. The Eastern Ghats are not continuous like the Sahyadris. Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Pennar and Kaveri rivers have dissected this range at many places.

The plateau region between the Sahyadri and the Eastern Ghats is known by numerous local names in different regions. Telangana which extends in Andhra Pradesh is the name of such a plateau. River Damodar flows through the Chhotanagpur Plateau. The valley of this river is famous for its huge coal deposits. Besides coal, this region is a store house of a number of other minerals.

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