Indian Plateau: Features, Types and Significance

Indian Plateau region is one of the oldest plateau regions in the world. Around 28% of the Indian region is covered with plateaus. Being drained by many rivers and soils with enriched mineral components, Plateau regions have become livable. About 40% of the Indian population lives in the plateau region. Plateau regions play a vital role in the Indian economy too. Here, we will discuss the Indian plateau regions with relevant rivers, soils and crops considering the Indian plateau map. It is an important chapter in Geography for competitive exams like UPSC, SSC CGL, SSC CHSL, RRB NTPC and State PSC.

What is Plateau?

Plateaus are elevated landforms that are raised stiffly above surrounding areas. These are flat by the top surface and does not have any peak. The French word ‘plateau’ stands for ‘table land’. 

How are Plateaus Formed?

Plateaus are formed by geologic forces through a natural process of millions of years on Earth’s crust when the pieces collide into each other, melt and gurgle back toward the surface. 

Characteristics of Plateau

  1. Plateaus are widely spread uplands.
  2. Plateaus consist of sharp edges.
  3. A chain of plateaus create a wave-like landform.
  4. A relict mountain may be converted into a plateau.

Types of Plateau

There are five types of plateau based on origin:

  1. Intermontane plateau: ‘Intermontane’ means ‘between mountains’. These uplands are fully or partly enclosed by mountains, generally, fold mountains. They are formed due to the collision of two or more tectonic plates. So, they have nearly horizontal rock layers. These are the highest plateaus in the world.
Intermontane plateau
Intermontane plateau

Example, the Tibetan plateau, which is enclosed by the Himalayas, Kunlun, Karakoram and Tian Shan mountains.

  1. Continental plateau: These uplands are formed by an extensive continent upliftment.
Continental plateau
Continental plateau

Example, the Deccan plateau in southern India.

  1. Piedmont plateau: ‘Piedmont’ means ‘foot of a mountain’. These uplands are located between the foothills of mountains and plains or the sea. Piedmont plateaus are also called ‘plateaus of denudation’ as they were as high as mountains in the early stages but now they are reduced by erosion.

Example, peninsular plateau.

Piedmont plateau
Piedmont plateau
  1. Volcanic plateau: These uplands are formed by volcanic activity with a great depth on a continental surface.

Volcanic plateau are of two types: lava plateau and pyroclastic plateau. Lava plateaus are formed by the basic lava flow on the earth surface. Pyroclastic volcanic plateaus are formed by massive pyroclastic flows.

Example, the Deccan plateau in southern India.

Volcanic Plateau
Volcanic Plateau
  1. Dissected plateau: They are formed due to severe erosion. So, they have sharp edges.

Example: The Deccan Plateau in India and the Blue Mountains & Hornsby Plateau in Australia are examples of dissected plateaus sculpted after regional uplift.

Dissected Plateau
Dissected Plateau

Indian Plateau

Indian Plateau Map

Indian Plateau Map
Indian Plateau Map

The Peninsular Plateau is one of the oldest landforms on the earth (3,600 million years old). It was generated by the collision of the Indo-Australian Plate and the Eurasian Plate which causes breaking and drifting of the.

Peninsular Plateau can be divided into two plateau regions in India:

Peninsular Plateau
Peninsular Plateau

Central Highlands / Madhya Bharat Pathar: It is a combination of the Peninsular Plateau and the Volcanic Plateau. The Peninsular Plateau is a piedmont plateau and one of the oldest landforms of the earth (3,600 million years old). It was generated by the collision of the Indo-Australian Plate and the Eurasian Plate which causes breaking and drifting of the Gondwanaland where the Volcanic Plateau of Deccan Trap has an extension in this region. This region is composed of crystalline, igneous and metamorphic rocks with gently rising hills and wide valleys. This area is bounded by the Thor desert, the Aravalli and the Western Ghats in the west, Vindhya and Satpura hills in the south, the Ganga river in the east and the Ganga plains in the north. The slopes are mainly towards the east. The average elevation of this area is 600-900m.

The whole area of the Central Highlands is distributed into six plateaus:

Marwar/Mewar Plateau: This plateau is on the eastern side of the Aravalli and spread over the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The average elevation is of this plateau is 250-500m. It is made up of sandstone, shales and limestones. The slope of this plateau is eastward.

Malwa Plateau: The word ‘Malwa’ came from the Sanskrit word ‘Malav’. It is the western region of the Central Highlands. It is distributed in the Indian states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan. The total area is 81,767 sq. Km. The elevation of this plateau is 1,600 ft. Malwa plateau is a volcanic plateau and a part of the Deccan Trap on the north of the Narmada river. Narmada and Mahi have created drainage systems towards the Arabian Sea and Betwa, Chambal, Ken and Sind towards the Bay of Bengal after meeting the Yamuna river.

Bundelkhand Plateau: It is the northern region of the Central Highlands. This plateau is bounded by the Yamuna river in the north, the Vindhyan hills in the south, the Chambal river in the northwest and Panna-Ajaigarh Range in the south-east. It is a combination of hillocks or small hills made of granite and sandstone. This upland is spread over the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The average elevation of the Bundelkhand plateaus is 300-600 m.

Baghelkhand Plateau: It is the southern region of the Central Highlands and is located to the north of the Maikal Range. It is also known as Vindhyachal Plateau. The average elevation of this area is 150-1,200m.

Chotanagpur Plateau: It is the eastern region of the Central Highlands. It is popularly known as the “Ruhr of India”. This plateau is composed of Archaean granite and gneiss rocks with patches. Chotanagpur is located in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Purulia district of West Bengal. The average elevation is 700 m. Barakar, Damodar, Subarnarekha are the main rivers in this area

There is also an extension of the Peninsular Plateau in North-East India called the Shilong Plateau.

Shilong Plateau: This plateau is detached from the Indian Peninsula by the Malda Gap. It is spread in Assam and Meghalaya of the North-Eastern Region of India. Garo, Khasi, Jaintia, Mikir and Rengma hills are the main hills of this area. The Mikir and Rengma hills are detached from the Meghalaya plateau and surrounded by the plains. 

Deccan Plateau:

Deccan Plateau is located to the south of the Narmada river and covers a great triangle-shaped region of about 5 lakh sq. km. This is a Volcanic plateau. Deccan plateau is bounded by the Satpura range of hills the Vindhya in the north-west, the Mahadev hill and the Maikal hill in the north, the Western Ghats in the west and the Eastern Ghats in the East. The average elevation of the Deccan Plateau is around 600m. The slope of this area is from west to east. Deccan Plateau is categorized into four subdivisions: the Deccan Trap, Karnataka Plateau, Telangana Plateau and Dandakaranya Plateau.

Deccan Trap: It is the North-Western part of the Deccan Plateau. The word “Deccan” means ‘Southern’ and the swiss word “Trap” means ‘steps’. Due to erosion of the basaltic lava, soil eroded step-wise. That’s why it is termed as Deccan Trap. It is also known as Maharashtra Plateau. It was generated during the Cretaceous Period about 146 million years ago. The average elevation of this area is 900-1,600m. The Deccan Trap has an extension to the north as Malwa plateau. Rivers like the Godavari, Krishna originated in this area. Deccan Trap is covered with black soil. Tapi River flows through the northern part from east to west.

Karnataka Plateau: Karnataka Plateau is located in the southwestern part of the Deccan plateau. It is also known as the Mysore Plateau. The average elevation of this area is 600-900m. The highest point of this area is Mulangiri (1913m), Bababudan hill. There are two parts of this plateau: Malnad and Maidan. Malnad is a hilly area, whereas Maidan is a rolling plain with low granite hills. This plateau reduced the gap between the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats and merges with the Nilgiri hills. River Cauvery originates in this area.

Telangana Plateau: It is the North-Eastern part of the Deccan Plateau. The average elevation of this area is 500-600m. The Eastern Ghats occupy a vast area of this plateau. Godavari and Krishna river meets the Bay of Bengal in this area.

Dandakaranya Plateau: It is identified as the northeast extension of the Deccan Plateau. It is an undulating (means it has ups and downs like waves) plateau. It is to the south of the Mahanadi river. The average elevation of this area is 250-330m. Tel and Udanti –  tributaries of Mahanadi and Sabari and Sileru – tributaries of Godavari flows from west to east in this region.

Significance of Plateaus in India:

  1. Peninsular plateaus are enriched minerals. These minerals are very important raw materials for the industry. Ores like bauxite, chromium, coal, copper, diamond, gold, iron, lead, manganese, marble, mercury, mica, silver, zinc, etc. are found here.

Important Mines in this area:

Coal mines: Bokaro, Daltonganj, Dhanbad, Giridih, Godda, Jayanti, Jharia, Korba, Ramgarh, Raniganj, Talcher, etc.

Bauxite mines:Balangir, Bargarh, Koraput, Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Sundergarh, Katni, Bilaspur & Maikal Hills, Lohardaga, Singhbhum, Jamnagar.

Iron mines: Cuttack, Gua, Jajpur, Joda, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Rourkela, Sundergarh.

Gold mines:Bhitar Dari, Kunderkocha, Parasi, Pahadia.

Copper mines:Hazaribagh, Singhbhum,   Malanjkhand, etc.

Diamond mines: Bunder, Panna.

Uranium mines: Jaduguda, Narwapahar, Turamdih, Bagjata, Bhatin.

  1. Peninsular and Deccan Plateau regions are fertile due to different types of enriched soils and several rivers. Deccan plateau has much higher fertility than the Peninsular plateau region. Rice, wheat, cotton, sugarcane, tea, coffee, pulses, rubber, jute, etc are the main crops in this region.

Different Types of Soil and the important crops in the Indian Plateau:

Alluvial Soil: found in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Bihar – enriched with Potash and Lime – Rice, Wheat, Sugarcane, Jute, Cotton

Regur Soil/ Black Soil: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu – enriched with Potash, Lime, Iron, Magnesia, Alumina – Cotton, Sugarcane, Tobacco, Jowar, Wheat, Rice, etc.

Red Soil:  Southern part of the middle Ganga plains, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Eastern and Southern part of the Deccan Plateau – enriched with Iron, Potash – Wheat, Rice, Sugarcane, Cotton, Pulses.

Laterite Soil: Assam, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu – enriched with Ferus Oxide and Potash – Tea, Coffee, Cashewnuts, Rubber.

  • Chipmanglur city, Bababudan hills, Karnataka is famous for coffee and rubber cultivation
  • Pulses are the main crops in Malwa Plateau
  • Tea is the main crop in Shilong Plateau
  • Dandakaranya is famous for cultivating turmeric
  • Coffee and Rubber are the main crops of the Telangana Plateau and Karnataka Plateau
  • Deccan Trap is known for Sugarcane, Rubber and Rice
  • Kerala is famous for Cardamom cultivation
  • Chhotanagpur is known for the crops: Cotton, Rice and Sugarcane
  • Alluvial soil of Bundelkhand mainly produces Wheat and Rice
  1. Peninsular Plateau is covered with mainly Black Soil or Regur Soil. Plants like cotton, millets, maize. pulses, oranges grow heavily in regur soil. The eastern part of the plateau is suitable for the cultivation of tea.
  2. Slopes of the plateaus give current to the rivers. This phenomenon helps us to build hydroelectric power stations.
  3. There is always a cool climate in the higher parts of a plateau, even it is a tropical or a sub-tropical region.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which is the largest plateau in India? 

The Deccan Plateau is the largest plateau of India.

  • Which is the highest plateau of India?

Ladakh plateau is the highest plateau in India.

Which plateau is known as the roof of the world?

Tibetan Plateau in Central Asia is also known as the roof of the world.

  • Which is the smallest plateau in India?

Chota Nagpur Plateau is the smallest plateau in India.

  • Which is the largest plateau in the world? 

The largest plateau in the world is the Tibetan Plateau.

  • Which is the oldest plateau in the world?

Deccan plateau in India is the oldest in the world.

  • Which soil is found in the Deccan plateau?

Regur soils are mainly found in the Deccan plateau.


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