The Peninsular Plateau of India: Features, Importance

The Peninsular plateau is a tableland in India. It was developed due to the breaking and drifting of the Gondwanaland. The plateau has broad and shallow valleys and rounded hills. This plateau consists of two broad divisions: the Central Highlands and the Deccan Plateau. Here is the detailed discussion on the Peninsular plateau of India considering the map. It is an important chapter in Geography for competitive exams like UPSC, SSC, RRB NTPC and State PSC.

Peninsular Plateau

The peninsular plateau is one of the oldest landforms seen in India. The Peninsular plateau of India is more than 3600 million years old. It is made up of some of the oldest rocks of the world from the different periods of rock systems:

  1. Thc Archacan Group:
  • Ancient crystalline and highly metamorphosed gneisses of the Archaean System are rich in metallic and non-metallic minerals, precious stones and building materials.
  • These rocks are found in Tamil Nadu, Nilgiris, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhotanagpur, West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mikir, Bundelkhand (Uttar Pradesh) and the Aravallis (Rajasthan).
  • The Bengal gneiss known as Khondolite is found in the Eastern Ghats.
  1. The Dharwar System:
  • The oldest metamorphosed-sedimentary rocks are found here.
  • It is rich in iron ore, manganese, mica, copper, zinc, lead, silver, gold, slate, asbestos, marble, and limestone.
  • It is spanned in Kamataka, the Chhotanagpur Plateau, the upper reaches of river Godavari and the Aravallis.
  1. The Cuddapah System:
  • The Cuddapah formations are spread over the lower valleys of Penganga and Godavari, the Talcher Series between Mahanadi and Brahmani (Orissa), the upper courses of the Narmada and Son rivers, and the west of Aravallis near Jodhpur.
  • It is rich in building material, shales, limestone and sandstone.
  • Some inferior quality of iron ore, manganese, copper, and asbestos are also found in these rock systems.
  1. The Vindhyan System:
  • The Central Indian Highlands are known for the Vindhyan Mountains extending from Chittorgarh (Rajasthan) in the west to Sasaram and Dehri-on-Son (Bihar) in the east including one extended branch of it from Sasaram to Hoshingabad in Madhya Pradesh.
  • This formation occupies a large contiguous area of around one lakh sq km from the Chambal to Son river.
  • Several isolated exposures of sedimentary rocks are found in the Bastar area, Chhattisgarh.
  • The Vindhya is known for the good quality of building materials used in ceramics and precious stones. In some of the exposures of the Vindhyan System, diamonds are found. The Panna District of Madhya Pradesh and the Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh are known for diamond production.
  • The upper Vindhyans are covered by the Deccan Trap.
  1. Gondwana System:
  • The coal belts of Peninsular India were developed during the Gondwana period. These are the Talcher Series, the Damuda Series and the Panchet Series. The Gondwana period is also known as the Carboniferous period.
  • The rocks of the Upper Carboniferous Period like Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Tertiary, etc. are preserved in the basins of Damodar, Mahanadi, Godavari and Krishna river.
  1. The Deccan Trap:
  • The 146 million years old Cretaceous system is a very widely distributed system.
  • An outpouring of a huge quantity of basalt formed the Deccan Trap during the transgression of the sea into the Narmada valley and Coromandal coast. The lava eruption was of the Hawaiian or fissure type.
  • Intrusions of the plutonic rocks such as gabbro and granite are observed in the rock system of this region. There are quartzites, agates and carnelians found in the lava formations of the Deccan Plateau.
  1. The Tertiary System:
  • The final fragmentation of the Gondwana occurred faulting of the Peninsula along with the subsidence of the broken blocks beneath the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal during the Tertiary Period.
  • Rocks of the Tertiary System are found in Kathiawar, Kachchh (Gujarat), Laki Series (Rajasthan) and along the Coromandel and Malabar coasts; and in the Meghalaya Plateau and the Jaintia Series in the northeast region of India.
  1. The Pleistocene Geology:
  • It was formed by the river deposits in the lower reaches and deltas of Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna and Cauveri and in the western coastal plains of Gujarat, Konkan and Malabar and along the eastern coast. The formation along the eastern coast of India is more pronounced.

Peninsular Plateau Map

Peninsular Plateau map
Peninsular Plateau map

 

Physiography and Relief Features of Peninsular India

  • The peninsular upland forms the largest physiographic division in India, covering an area of about l6 lakh sq km.
  • The region constitutes a triangular shape with a general elevation between 600-900 metres between the Delhi Ridge and the Rajmahal Hills and the apex formed by Kanyakumari.
  • It is bounded by the Aravallis in the northwest, Maikal Range in the north, Hazaribagh and Rajmahal Hills in the northeast, the Western Ghats in the west and the Eastern Ghats in the east.
  • The highest peak of Peninsular India is AnaiMudi (2695 metres) in the Nilgiris.

The Peninsular Plateaus can be divided into the following eight macro-physiographic units:

  1. Northern Central highlands
  2. Southern Central highlands
  3. Eastern plateau
  4. North Deccan
  5. South Deccan
  6. Western Ghats
  7. Eastern Ghats
  8. Meghalaya uplands
  1. Northern Central highlands: It is divided into four parts: the Aravallis and the Malwa Plateau.

Aravalli:

  • It is one of the oldest mountain range in India.
  • It is made up of sedimentary and metamorphosed rocks – marble, quartzite.
  • It is spanned from Palanpur to Delhi ridge.
  • Rivers like Sabarmati, Luni and Banas (a tributary of Chambal) originates here.

Malwa Plateau:

  • It is located between the Aravalli range in the west, the Vindhyan range in the south and the Bundelkhand Plateau in the east. This region is historically known as Khandesh.
  • This semi-arid region is drought-prone. So, soil erosion is high here and not good for agricultural practices. So, it is also known as ‘Chambal badlands’.

Vindhyan Range:

  • It is the source of many north-flowing rivers like Chambal, Sindh, Betwa and Ken, which are tributaries of the river Yamuna.

2. The South Central Highlands

  • It consists of Vindhyachal-Bundelkhand Plateau and the Vindhyachal-Baghelkhand Plateau.
  • The Vindhyan Range extends from Jobat (Gujarat) and Chittorgarh (Rajasthan) to Sasaram in Bihar for about 1050 km with an elevation of 450-600 metres.
  • Apart from the Kaimur Hills in the east, the Maikal Range forms a connection between the Vindhya and the Satpura mountains.

(i) Bundelkhand (Vindhyachal Plateau):

  • It is bounded by the Yamuna river in the north, Vindhyans in the south, the Chambal river in the northwest and Panna-Ajaigarh Range in the southeast.
  • The Bundelkhand upland stretches over the districts of Banda, Hamirpur, Jalaun, Jhansi, and Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh and Datia, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur and Panna in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Betwa, Dhasan and Ken rivers have carved out steep gorges, rapids, cataracts and waterfalls in this region.

(ii) The Vindhyachal-Baghelkhand or Vindhyachal Plateau:

  • The Vindhyachal-Baghelkhand Plateau is spread over Satna, Rewa in Madhya Pradesh and Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh to the south of the Narmada-Son rift valley.
  • This region has an elevation between 150-1200 metres.
  • The Narmada-Son rift valley has an eastward extension to the Satpuras.
  • Singrauli and Dudhi (150-300 m) are important basins.
  • Besides the Narmada and Son, this region is drained by the Karmanasa, Tons, Ken and Belandare rivers.
  • Satpura consists of Rajpipla Hills, Mahadev Hills and the Maikal Range.
  • Dhupgarh (1350 m, near Pachmarhi) is the highest peak of Satpura. Amarkantak (1064 metres) is another important peak of the Satpura mountains.
  1. Eastern Plateau:
  • The Eastern Plateau or Chhotanagpur Plateau has a series of the meso and micro plateaux spread over parts of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and the northeastern part of Andhra Pradesh.
  • It is composed of Archaean granite and gneiss rocks.
  • The highest elevation of this region is about 1100.
  • Rivers like Barakar, Damodar, Subarnarekha and Koel have carved out deep gorges, rapids, cataracts and waterfalls in the plateau region.
  1. The Meghalaya Plateau:
  • This region consists of the Garo, Khasi, Jaintia hills and the outlying Mikir and Rengma hills.
  • This plateau is detached from the Indian Peninsula by the Malda Gap.
  • The Shillong Peak (1823 m) and Norkek (1515m) are among the highest elevation on this plateau. Mawsynram, which records the highest rainfall in the world, is in this region.
  • The Mikir Hills are characterised by radial drainage with Dhansiri and Jamuna being the main rivers. It is detached from the Meghalaya Plateau. The southern range of the Mikir Hills is the Rengma Hills (900 m).
  1. The North Deccan (Maharashtra Plateau)
  • The North Deccan or Maharashtra plateau includes the entire state of Maharashtra, except the Konkan coast and the Sahyadris.
  • This plateau region is mainly covered by the basaltic sheet of the Cretaceous Period. It has a gentle slope in the south and a steep gradient in the north (towards the Satpura Hills). The basaltic sheet has a thickness of about 3 km in the western parts of the plateau and diminishes towards the east and southeast.
  • The most striking feature of the Maharashtra Plateau is the fault (1000 metres), giving rise to the present shoreline of the Arabian Sea.
  • The Tapi River flows through the northern part of the Maharashtra Plateau from east to west.

(i) The Mahanadi Basin:

  • The Mahanadi Basin is sprawling over the districts of Raipur, Bilaspur, Durg and Rajgarh by the Mahanadi river and its tributaries like Seonath, Hasdeo and Mana.
  • It is also known as the Chhattisgarh Plain.
  • This region is largely dominated by the Archaean and Cuddapah formations.

(ii) The Chhattisgarh Plain:

  • It is bounded by the Lomari Plateau, Pendra Plateau, the Chhuri and the Raigarh Hills in the north.
  • It is an enriched area of bituminous coal. The Korba coalfields of Chhattisgarh is situated in this basin.
  • The western rimland includes the Maikal Range and the southern rimland includes the Dhalli-Rajhara Hills and the Raipur uplands.
  • The Rajhara Hill contains iron ore of haematite type.

(iii) Garhjat Hills:

  • It is also known as the Orissa Highlands.
  • Garhjat Hills is bordered by the Chotanagpur Plateau in the north, Mahanadi basin in the west, the Eastern Ghats in the south and Utkal plains in the east.
  • This region is mainly composed of Archaean rocks like granite, gneisses and magmatic rocks including the Gondwana, Talcher, Barakar and Kamathi.

(iv) Dandakaranya Plateau:

  • The Dandakaranya Plateau is spanned over the Koraput and Kalahandi districts of Orissa, Bastar District of Chhattisgarh and East Godavari, Vishakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts of Andhra Pradesh.
  • Dandakaraoya is an undulating plateau.
  • The Abujhmar Hills provide one of the richest iron-ore deposits at Bailadila Range in this region.
  • Tel and Udantj – tributaries of Mahanadi, and the Sabari and Sileru – tributaries of Godavari flow through this region.
  1. The South Deccan

The South Deccan consists of several plateaus:

(i) Karnataka Plateau:

  • It is spanned over Karnataka and the Cannanore and Kozhikode districts of Kerala.
  • It is formed by the dominance of Archaean and Dharwar formations.
  • The average elevation is 600-900 metres.
  • Mulangiri (1913 metres) is the highest peak in Baba-Budan Hills in this region, followed by the Kudermukh (1892 metres) peak.
  • The northern upland of the Karnataka plateau is known as Malnad and the southern part is known as Maidan.
  • Cauveri and Tungabhadra rivers flow through this plateau.

(ii) The Telangana Plateau:

  • This plateau consists of Dharwar and Cuddapah formations.
  • The average elevation is 500-600m.
  • The Eastern Ghats occupy a vast area in this plateau.

(iii) The Tamil Nadu Uplands:

  • This region lies between the South Sahyadri and Tamil Nadu coastal plains.
  • It is mainly covered by Archaean rocks. There are Cuddapah and alluvial formations, too.
  • This area is known for the charnockites, found in Javadi and Shevaroy hills.
  • There is a about 24 km wide broad gap, known as the Palakkad Gap between Coimbatore and Anaimalais, through which the Gayatri river flows from east to west joining Tamil Nadu with the coast of Kerala.
  1. The Western Ghats:
  • The Western Ghats or Sahyadris run parallel to the western coast for about 1600 km in the north-south direction from the mouth of the Tapi river to Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin).
  • The western slope of the Western Ghats is steep while the eastern slope is gentle.
  • These are block mountains formed due to the down warping of a part of land into the Arabian Sea.
  • Sahyadris form a watershed of the peninsula.
  • The Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri, the important rivers of this region, rise from the Western Ghats.
  • The Gersoppa or the Jog falls on river Sharvati is the highest waterfall in India.
  • The average elevation of the Western Ghats is 1000-1300 metres.
  • Kudermukh (1892 m), Pushpagiri (1714 m), Kalsubai (1646 m) and SaJher (1567 m), Mahabaleshwar (1438 m) and Harishchandra (1424 m) are the important peaks of the Western Ghats.
  • the Eastern Ghat joins the Western Ghat in the Nilgiris, whose highest point is Anai-Mudi (2695 m).
  • Palakkad Gap, Thai Ghat and Bhor Ghat are the important passes of the Western Ghats. The Palghat (Palakkad Gap) lies to the south of Nilgiri.

Bhor Ghat:

  • This gap joins Mumbai and Pune.
  • The elevation of this gap is about 1000 metres above sea level.

Goran Ghat:

  • It lies to the south of Mount Abu and connects the city of Udaipur with Sirohi and Jalore in Rajasthan.
  • The elevation of this area is about 1200 metres above sea level.
  • It is characterised by thorny bushes and cacti as the surrounding rocks are desolate.

Haldighat:

  • It is believed that the name was given after the turmeric-coloured yellow soil.
  • It is a mountain pass in the Aravalli range of Rajasthan, connecting Rajsamand and Pali district.

Harishchandra:

  • This mountain range, covered by degraded forests, is in the southern parts of Maharashtra sprawling from northwest to southeast stretched in the districts of Pune and Osmanabad in Maharashtra.

Kalsubai:

  • It is one of the highest peaks (1646 metres) of the Western Ghats located in Maharashtra.

Kudarmukh:

  • The Kudarmukh range is situated in the state of Karnataka, 1892 m above sea level.
  • The region is rich in iron ore of haematite and magnetite type.

Mahabaleshwar:

  • It is one of the important peaks of the Western Ghats with an elevation of 1438 metres.

The Nilgiri Hills:

  • The Nilgiri Hills is situated in the Western Ghats. It connects the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats.
  • It covers an area of about 2500 sq km with an elevation of more than 2500 m.

Palghat:

  • The Palghat gap lies to the south of Nilgiri Hills. Its elevation is between 75m to 300m.
  • It is also known as the Palakkad Gap.
  • This 25 km gap joins Tamil Nadu with the seaports of Kerala. The river Gayitri flows through it from east to west.

Pushpagiri:

  • Pushpagiri is one of the highest peaks (1714 metres) of the Western Ghats.

Salher:

  • The Salher peak (1567 metres) lies in the Western Ghats between Malegaon and Nashik.
  1. The Eastern Ghats:
  • The Eastern Ghats is a massive series of detached blocks of hills that form the eastern boundary of the Deccan Plateau.
  • This region is composed of predominant rocks, which are khondalites, metamorphosed-sedimentary, and chemokines (intrusive rocks being granite).
  • The average elevation of the Eastern Ghats is about 600 m where the average elevation of the Eastern Ghats between Mahanadi and Godavari is about 1100 metres.
  • The peak of Singaraja (1516 metres) in Odisha is the highest peak of the Eastern Ghats. The other important peaks are Nimalgiri (1515 m) and Mahendragiri (1501 m) situated in Odisha.
  • The Kondavidu, Nallarnalai, Velikonds, Palkonda and Erramala Ranges are located between the Krishna river and Chennai. These ranges are continued to the Seshachalam hills, Javadi, Shevaroy, Panchaimalai, Sirumalai, and Varushnad Hills in Tamil Nadu.

Significance of the Peninsular Plateau:

The importance of Peninsular India depends on its location and rock formations:

(i) The Peninsular region of India is enriched with metallic and non-metallic minerals like iron, manganese, copper, bauxite, chromium, mica, gold, silver, zinc, lead, mercury, coal, diamond, precious stones, marble, building materials and decorative stones. The peninsular region is filled with 98 per cent of the Gondwana coal deposits of India.

(ii) A substantial part of Peninsular India is covered by black soil or Regur soil. Cotton, millets, maize. pulses, oranges and citrus fruits are being cultivated in the regur soil. Tea, coffee, rubber, cashew, spices, tobacco, groundnut and oilseeds are grown in some areas of south Peninsular India.

(iii) Archaean, Dharwar, Cuddapah and Vindhyan formations are the large stretches of Peninsular India on the southern and eastern parts. This area is covered with red, brown and laterite soils, developed over time.

(iv) In south Peninsular India, the Western Ghats, Nilgiris and the Eastern Ghats are covered by thick tropical moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forests. These forests are made of teak, sal, sandalwood, ebony, mahogany, bamboo, cane, rosewood, ironwood and various forest products. Besides, these forests are rich in medicinal plants.

(v) The rivers, from the Western Ghats, make several gorges, waterfalls, rapids and cataracts while flowing eastward into the Bay of Bengal. The rivers harness great opportunities like the generation of hydel power and irrigation of crops and orchards.

(vi) These hilly and mountainous regions of the Peninsula cultivates the urbanized people with abodes of many scheduled tribes. Khandala, Kodaikanal, Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, Ooty, Pachmarhi, Udhagamandalam and Mount Abu are inhabited as hill stations and hill resorts as the south of the Vindhya is a predominance of Dravidian culture.

The Peninsular Plateau of India is an important topic for UPSC, State PSCs, SSC, Railways Exams. You can also read the articles below related to the Peninsular Plateau of India

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