The Peninsular Plateau of India, also known as the Deccan Plateau, is a large, triangular landmass in the southern part of the Indian subcontinent. Geologically, it is one of the oldest plateaus in the world, characterized by its rugged topography and diverse geological formations.
Classified into several smaller plateaus, such as the Malwa Plateau, Chota Nagpur Plateau, and the Karnataka Plateau, the Peninsular Plateau is primarily composed of ancient crystalline igneous rocks, making it rich in mineral resources. Its significant features include extensive basaltic flows, black soil plains conducive to agriculture, and the presence of major rivers, such as the Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri, which have carved out deep valleys and provided essential water resources for the region. Furthermore, the plateau is known for its diverse flora and fauna, including deciduous forests, grasslands, and a range of endemic species, contributing to its ecological importance and biodiversity.
The Peninsular Plateau
- The Great Peninsular Plateau is a tableland composed of the old crystalline, igneous and metamorphic rocks. It lies to the South of the Great Northern Plains. It covers an area of about 16 lakh square km, i.e., about half of the total area of the country.
- It is an irregular triangle rising from the height of 150 m above the river plains up to an elevation of 600-900 m.
- Delhi ridge in the northwest, (extension of Aravalis), the Rajmahal hills in the east, Gir range in the west and the Cardamom hills in the south constitute the outer extent of the peninsular plateau.
- However, an extension of this is also seen in the northeast, in the form of Shillong and Karbi- Anglong plateau separated from the Peninsular by the Malda fault.
- One of the distinct features of the peninsular plateau is the black soil area known as Deccan Trap.
- This is of volcanic origin hence the rocks are igneous. When the Indian plate was moving over Reunion hotspot, basalt lava spread to form these igneous rocks. Actually these rocks have denuded over time and are responsible for the formation of black soil.
- The Peninsular India is made up of a series of patland plateaus such as the Hazaribagh plateau, the Palamu plateau, the Ranchi plateau, the Malwa plateau, the Coimbatore plateau and the Karnataka plateau, etc. This is one of the oldest and the most stable landmass of India.
- The general elevation of the plateau is from the west to the east, which is also proved by the pattern of the flow of rivers. Rivers such as Krishna, Kaveri, Godavari, all rise from Western Ghats, make delta in the Bay of Bengal side.
- Plateau has been subjected to large scale denudation. Its mountains are generally of relic type. Because of their old age, all the rivers have almost attained their base level and have built up broad and shallow valleys.
- Some of the important physiographic features of this region are tors, block mountains, rift valleys, spurs, bare rocky structures, series of hummocky hills and wall-like quartzite dykes offering natural sites for water storage.
- This Peninsular plateau has undergone recurrent phases of upliftment and submergence accompanied by crustal faulting and fractures. These spatial variations have brought in elements of diversity in the relief of the peninsular plateau.
- The northwestern part of the plateau has a complex relief of ravines and gorges. The ravines of Chambal, Bhind and Morena are some of the well-known examples.
- On the basis of the prominent relief features, the peninsular plateau can be divided into three broad groups:
(i) The Deccan Plateau
(ii) The Central Highlands
(iii) The Northeastern Plateau.
The Deccan Plateau:
- The Deccan Plateau, the largest region of the Great Indian Plateau, covers an area of approximately 700,000 square kilometers.
- Its triangular shape extends southward from the Narmada River, with the Western Ghats bordering it to the west, the Eastern Ghats to the east, and the Satpura, Maikal range, and Mahadeo hills to the north.
- The Satpura range consists of scarp plateaus on the southern side, varying in elevation between 600-900 meters.
- These relict mountains have undergone significant erosion, resulting in disjointed ranges. The Deccan Plateau is higher in the west and gently slopes towards the east.
- The Western Ghats, known by various names such as Sahyadri in Maharashtra, Nilgiri hills in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and Anaimalai hills and Cardamom hills in Kerala, are block mountains formed by a portion of land sinking into the Arabian Sea.
- Extending parallel to the western coast from the mouth of the Tapi River to Kanyakumari, the Western Ghats have a steeper western slope compared to the gentler eastern slope. Major passes such as Thal, Bhor, and Pal Ghats traverse the Western Ghats.
- On the other hand, the Eastern Ghats stretch from the Mahanadi Valley to the Nigiris in the south.
- The Eastern Ghats are characterized by their discontinuous and irregular nature, dissected by rivers like the Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri, which drain into the Bay of Bengal.
- To the southeast of the Eastern Ghats, one can find the Shevaroy Hills and the Javadi Hills.
- In terms of elevation, the Western Ghats are relatively higher (900-1600 meters) and more continuous compared to the Eastern Ghats (600 meters).
- The average elevation of the Western Ghats is approximately 1,500 meters, with height increasing from north to south.
- The highest peak of the Peninsular plateau, Anamudi (2,695 meters), is located in the Anaimalai hills of the Western Ghats, followed by Dodabetta (2,637 meters) in the Nilgiri hills.
- The Eastern Ghats boast Mahendragiri (1,501 meters) as their highest peak. The Nilgiri hills serve as the meeting point of the Eastern and Western Ghats.
The Central Highlands:
- The Central Highlands stretch between the Vindhyachal range in the south and the Great Northern Plains in the north.
- The western and northwestern boundary of the Central Highlands is formed by the Aravalli range.
- Extending eastward from the Central Highlands, we find the Rajmahal hills. The dominant part of the Central Highlands is occupied by the Malwa plateau.
- Moving further east from Malwa Plateau, we come across Bundelkhand, followed by Baghelkhand and the well-known Chota Nagpur Plateau, which holds significant mineral reserves.
- The Chota Nagpur Plateau is drained by the Damodar River. To the further east, we encounter the Mahadeo Hills, Kaimur Hills, and Maikal Range.
- The subsidence of the land mass between the Vindhyas and the Satpuras has given rise to the Narmada Valley.
- The general elevation of the Central Highlands ranges from 700 to 1,000 meters, sloping towards the north and northeast.
- Several tributaries of the Yamuna River, including the Chambal, Sind, Betwa, and Ken, originate from the Vindhyan and Kaimur ranges.
- The Banas River, a tributary of the Chambal, originates from the Aravalli range in the west.
- The extension of the Peninsular plateau can be observed as far as Jaisalmer in the west, where it is covered by longitudinal sand ridges and crescent-shaped sand dunes called barchans.
- The Aravalli hills stretch from Gujarat through Rajasthan to Delhi in a northeast direction for approximately 700 kilometers.
- The highest peak in the Aravalli hills is Gurushikhar (1,722 meters) near the hill station of Mt. Abu.
The North-Eastern Plateau:
- The North-Eastern Plateau is an extension of the main Peninsular plateau in the northeast, locally known as the Meghalaya and Karbi-Anglong Plateau.
- It is separated from the Chotanagpur Plateau by the Malda fault. Over time, this depression has been filled up by sediment deposition from numerous rivers.
- The Meghalaya plateau can be further divided into three regions: the Garo Hills, the Khasi Hills, and the Jaintia Hills, named after the tribal groups inhabiting the area.
- A similar extension is also seen in the Karbi Anglong hills of Assam. The highest peak in this plateau is Shillong.
- Similar to the Chotanagpur Plateau, the Meghalaya plateau is rich in mineral resources such as coal, iron ore, sillimanite, limestone, and uranium.
- This region receives the highest amount of rainfall during the southwest monsoon, resulting in a highly eroded surface on the Meghalaya plateau.
Q.Where can I find a map of the Peninsular Plateau in India?
Ans. Maps of the Peninsular Plateau in India can be found in geography textbooks, online map services, and by searching for “Peninsular Plateau map India” on the internet.
Q. What geographical features are typically displayed on a Peninsular Plateau map of India?
Ans. A Peninsular Plateau map typically shows the plateau’s boundaries, major rivers, mountain ranges, and key cities within the region.
Q. Which are the major rivers that flow through the Peninsular Plateau of India?
Ans. The Peninsular Plateau is drained by several important rivers, including the Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery, Narmada, and Tapi, among others.
Q. How do the rivers of the Peninsular Plateau contribute to the region’s agriculture and economy?
Ans. The rivers of the Peninsular Plateau play a crucial role in supporting agriculture, providing water for irrigation, and facilitating transportation and hydroelectric power generation.
Q. What defines the Peninsular Plateau region in India?
Ans. The Peninsular Plateau is a region in India characterized by its elevated plateau landscape, which covers much of the southern and central parts of the country.
Q.What are the key physical features of the Peninsular Plateau?
Ans. The Peninsular Plateau features rugged terrain, plateaus, hills, and numerous rivers, making it one of the most geographically diverse regions in India.
Q. Why is the Peninsular Plateau of India relevant for UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exams?
Ans. Knowledge about the Peninsular Plateau is important for UPSC exams, especially for candidates appearing in the Civil Services Examination, as it is a significant part of India’s geography and plays a vital role in the country’s agriculture and ecology.
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