The Peninsular Plateau: Physiographic Divisions of India- Frontier IAS
Baljit Dhaka

The Peninsular Plateau: Physiographic Divisions of India

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The Peninsular Plateau: Physiographic Divisions of India

In this article, we will discuss The Peninsular Plateau of India. The Peninsular Plateau of India is roughly triangular in shape with its base parallel to the Ganga Valley and its apex pointing towards the southern tips of the country. It is hard old mass of igneous and metamorphic rocks being part of the tectonic plate called the Gondwanaland.

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Peninsular Plateau:

  • Named ‘Peninsular Plateau’ because it is a raised land flat at the top and surrounded on three sides by water.
  • It is a table land composed of the old, crystalline, igneous and metamorphic rocks.
  • Formed due to the breaking and drifting of the Gondwanaland and thus, making it a part of the oldest landmass.

Features of Peninsular Plateau:

  • Triangular in shape,  with its base coinciding at southern edge of the great plain of North India and  apex at Kanyakumari.
  • Covers total area of about 16 lakh sq km (Total area of India is 32 lakh sq km).
  • The average height of the plateau is 600-900 m above sea level (varies from region to region).
  • Most of the peninsular rivers flow west to east indicating its general slope.

  • Narmada-Tapi are the exceptions which flow from east to west in a rift valley.
  • Stable shield which has gone through little structural changes since its formation.
  • It is an aggregation of several smaller plateaus, hill ranges interspersed with river basins and valleys.

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Divisions of Peninsular Plateau: Broadly divided into 2 parts:

  1. Central Highland
  2. Deccan Plateau

1. Central Highland:

  • Also called the Madhya Bharat Pathar. 
  • East of the Marwar and Mewar Upland.
  • Mainly comprises the basin of the Chambal river which flows in a rift valley.
  • The Kali Sindh, The Banas, The Parwan and the Parbati are its main tributaries.
  • It is a rolling plateau with rounded hills composed of sandstone. Thick forests grow here.
  •  To the north are the ravines or badlands of the Chambal river.

2. Deccan Plateau:

  • It covers an area of about five lakh sq km.
  • Triangular in shape 
  • Is bounded by the Satpura and the Vindhya in the north-west, the Mahadev and the Maikal in the north, the Western Ghats in the west and the Eastern Ghats in the east.
  • Average elevation is 600 m.
  • Rises to 1000 m in the south but dips to 500 m in the north.
  • Its general slope is from west to east which is indicated by the flow of its major rivers.

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Other minor plateaus in peninsular plateau:

  1. Marwar plateau
  2. Bundelkhand Plateau
  3. Malwa Plateau
  4. Chhotanagpur plateau
  5. Meghalaya Plateau
  6. Telangana Plateau

1. Marwar Plateau:

  • Plateau of eastern Rajasthan. 
  • Average elevation 250-500 m above sea level. 
  • Slopes down eastwards.
  • Made up of sandstone, shales and limestones 
  • The Banas river, along with its tributaries [Berach river, Khari rivers] originate in the Aravali Range and flow towards northwest into Chambal river

2. Bundelkhand Plateau:

  • Yamuna river to the north, Madhya Bharat Pathar to the west, Malwa Plateau to the south.
  • Spreads over five districts of Uttar Pradesh and four districts of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Average elevation is 300-600 m above sea level.
  • The area is marked by a chain of hillocks (small hill) made of granite and sandstone.
  • Unfit for cultivation because of erosional work of rivers.
  • Streams like Betwa, Dhasan and Ken flow through the plateau.

3. Malwa Plateau:

  • Forms a triangle based on the Vindhyan Hills, 
  • West: Aravali Range
  • North: Madhya Bharat Pathar
  • East: Bundelkhand Plateau
  • Slope is towards the north. [600 m in the south to less than 500 m in the north]
  • It is composed of extensive lava flow and is covered with black soils.
  • In the north, the plateau is marked by the Chambal ravines.

 4. Chhota Nagpur Plateau:

  • Represents the north-eastern projection of the Indian Peninsula.
  • Mostly in Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhatisgarh and West Bengal.
  • The Son river flows in the north-west of the plateau and joins the Ganga.
  • The average elevation 700 m above sea level.
  • This plateau is composed mainly of Gondwana rocks.
  • Famous for minerals like mica, iron-ore, bauxite, copper, limestone.
  • Represents the north-eastern projection of the Indian Peninsula.
  • Mostly in Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhatisgarh and West Bengal.
  • The Son river flows in the north-west of the plateau and joins the Ganga.
  • The average elevation 700 m above sea level.
  • This plateau is composed mainly of Gondwana rocks.
  • Famous for minerals like mica, iron-ore, bauxite, copper, limestone.

5. Meghalaya Plateau:

  • The peninsular plateau extends further east beyond the Rajmahal hills to from Meghalaya or the Shillong plateau.
  • Garo-Rajmahal Gap (formed by down-faulting i.e. a block of earth slides downwards) separates this plateau from the main block.
  • Its western boundary more or less coincides with the Bangladesh border.
  • The western, central and the eastern parts of the plateau are known as the Garo Hills, the Khasi-Jaintia Hills and the Mikir Hills respectively.

6. Telangana Plateau:

  • It’s average elevation is 500-600 m.
  • The southern part is higher than its northern counterpart.
  • The region is drained by three river systems, the Godavari, the Krishna and the Penneru.
  • The entire plateau is divided into Ghats and the Peneplains (a vast featureless, undulating plain which the last stage of deposition process).

 Hill ranges of peninsular Plateau:

  • Most of the hills in the peninsular region are of the residual hills.
  • They are the remnants of the hills formed many million years ago.
  • The plateaus of the Peninsular region are separated from one another by these hill ranges and various river valleys.

Aravali Range:

  • Situated in north-east to south-west direction.
  • They run for about 800 km between Delhi and Palanpur in Gujarat.
  • One of the oldest fold mountains of the world and the oldest in India.
  • Elevation is only 400-600 m, with few hills well above 1,000 m.
  • Guru Sikhar (1,722 m), the highest peak, is situated in Mt. Abu.

Vindhyan Range:

  • Complex, discontinuous chain of mountain ridges.
  • Runs more or less parallel to the Narmada Valley in an east-west direction from Jobat in Gujarat to Sasaram in Bihar for a distance of over 1,200 km.
  • Passes through Madhya pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar pradesh and Bihar.
  • The general elevation of the is 300 to 650 m.
  • Mainly composed of horizontally bedded sedimentary rocks.
  • The Vindhyas are continued eastwards as the Bharner and Kaimur hills.
  • Acts as a watershed between the Ganga system and the river systems of south India.
  • Highest peak is Sadbhavna peak.

Satpura range:

  • It is a series of seven mountains (‘Sat’ = seven and ‘pura’ = mountains)
  • It runs in an east-west direction south of the Vindhyas and in between the Narmada and the Tapi, roughly parallel to these rivers.
  • It stretches for a distance of about 900 km.
  • Dhupgarh (1,350 m) near Pachmarhi on Mahadev Hills is the highest peak.
  • Amarkantak (1,127 m) is another important peak.

Western Ghat and Eastern Ghat:

  • Western Ghats lie parallel to the western coast.
  • They are continuous and can be passed through passes only- Thal, Bhor and Pal Ghats, while the Eastern Ghats are discontinuous and irregular and dissected by rivers draining into the Bay of Bengal.
  • Higher than the Eastern Ghats
  • Their average elevation is 900-1600 metres as against 600 m of the Eastern Ghats
  • The Eastern Ghats stretch from the Mahanadi Valley to the Nilgiris in the south
  • Western Ghat meet with Eastern Ghat in the Nilgiri hills.
  • The Western Ghats are known by different local names.
  • The height of the Western Ghats progressively increases from north to south.
  • The highest peaks of western Ghat is Anaimudi (2,695m) and the Doda Betta (2,637m) and Mahendragiri (1,501m) is the highest peak in the Eastern Ghats.

 Importance of Peninsular plateau:

  • 98 per cent of the Gondwana coal deposits of India are found in the Peninsular Plateau.
  • There are huge deposits of iron, manganese. copper, bauxite, chromium, mica, gold, etc.
  • Large reserves of slate, shale, sandstones, marbles, etc.
  • A large part of north-west plateau is covered with fertile black lava soil which is extremely useful for growing cotton.
  • Some hilly regions in Western ghat are suitable for the cultivation of plantation crops like tea, coffee, rubber, etc..
  • Some low lying areas of the plateau are suitable for growing rice.

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