The DECCAN PLATEAU is a large plateau in southern
India . It rises
to 100 metres (330 ft) in the north, and to more than 1 kilometre
(0.62 mi) in the south, forming a raised triangle within the
downward-pointing triangle of the
Indian subcontinent 's coastline.
It extends over eight Indian states and encompasses a wide range of
habitats , covering most of central and southern
The plateau is located between two mountain ranges, the Western Ghats
Eastern Ghats , each of which rises from its respective nearby
coastal plain, and almost converge at the southern tip of India. It is
separated from the
Gangetic plain to the north by the Satpura and
Vindhya Ranges , which form its northern boundary. The Deccan produced
some of the major dynasties in
Pallavas , Satavahana ,
Vakataka , Chalukya , and Rashtrakuta dynasties; the Western Chalukya
, Kakatiya Empire, Vijayanagara and Maratha empires; and the Muslim
Bahmani Sultanate , Deccan Sultanate , and the
Nizam of Hyderabad .
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Extent
* 3 Geography
* 3.1 Climate
* 4 The
* 5 Geology
* 6 Fauna
* 7 People
* 8 History
* 9 Economy
* 10 Gallery
* 11 Notes
* 11.1 References
* 12 External links
The name Deccan is an anglicised form of the Prakrit word dakkhin,
itself derived from the
Sanskrit word dákṣiṇa (meaning
"southern"), as the Deccan
Plateau is located in southern part of
The Deccan region has historically lacked an enduring geo-political
centre, and has been defined in various ways. Geographers have
attempted to define it using indices such as rainfall, vegetation,
soil type or physical features. When considering physical features, it
is taken to be the area bounded by the
Narmada River , the Eastern
Ghats and the
Western Ghats . The 16th century historian Firishta
defined Deccan as the territory inhabited by the native speakers of
Kannada , Marathi , and Telugu languages. Richard M. Eaton (2005) also
settled on this linguistic definition.
Topographic map of the Deccan plateau showing the locations of
major cities and towns.
Hogenakal Falls ,
Hampi, Karnataka Rock formations at Hyderabad, Telangana
Hills of granite boulders are a common feature of the landscape on the
Deccan Traps in
Western Ghats mountain range is very tall and blocks the moisture
from the southwest monsoon from reaching the Deccan Plateau, so the
region receives very little rainfall. The eastern Deccan
at a lower elevation spanning the southeastern coast of India. Its
forests are also relatively dry but serve to retain the rain to form
streams that feed into rivers that flow into basins and then into the
Bay of Bengal .
Most Deccan plateau rivers flow south. Most of the northern part of
the plateau is drained by the
Godavari River and its tributaries,
Indravati River , starting from the
Western Ghats and
flowing east towards the Bay of Bengal. Most of the central plateau is
drained by the
Tungabhadra River ,
Krishna River and its tributaries,
Bhima River , which also run east. The southernmost part
of the plateau is drained by the
Kaveri River , which rises in the
Western Ghats of
Karnataka and bends south to break through the
Nilgiri Hills at the island town of
Shivanasamudra and then falls into
Tamil Nadu at
Hogenakal Falls before flowing into the Stanley
Reservoir and the
Mettur Dam that created the reservoir, and finally
emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
The climate of the region varies from semi-arid in the north to
tropical in most of the region with distinct wet and dry seasons. Rain
falls during the monsoon season from about June to October. March to
June can be very dry and hot, with temperatures regularly exceeding 40
°C. The Deccan plateau is a topographically variegated region located
south of the Gangetic plains-the portion lying between the Arabian Sea
and the Bay of Bengal-and includes a substantial area to the north of
Satpura Range , which has popularly been regarded as the divide
India and the Deccan. The name derives from the
Sanskrit daksina ("south"). The plateau is bounded on the east and
west by the Ghats, while its northern extremity is the
Vindhya Range .
The Deccan's average elevation is about 2,000 feet (600 m), sloping
generally eastward; its principal rivers, the Godavari, Krishna, and
Cauvery, flow from the
Western Ghats eastward to the Bay of Bengal.
The plateau's climate is drier than that on the coasts and is arid in
places. Although sometimes used to mean all of
India south of the
Narmada River, the word Deccan relates more specifically to that area
of rich volcanic soils and lava-covered plateaus in the northern part
of the peninsula between the Narmada and Krishna rivers.
Having once constituted a segment of the ancient continent of
Gondwanaland , this land is the oldest and most stable in India. The
Deccan plateau consists of dry tropical forests that experiences only
On the western edge of the plateau lie the
Sahyadri , the Nilgiri ,
the Anaimalai and the Elamalai Hills, commonly known as Western Ghats.
The average height of the Western Ghats, which run along the Arabian
Sea, goes on increasing towards the south.
Anaimudi Peak in
with a height of 2,695 m above sea level, is the highest peak of
peninsular India. In the Nilgiris lie Ootacamund, the well-known hill
station of southern India. The western coastal plain is uneven and
swift rivers flow through it that forms beautiful lagoons and
backwaters, examples of which can be found in the state of Kerala. The
east coast is wide with deltas formed by the rivers Godavari, Mahanadi
and Kaveri. Flanking the Indian peninsula on the western side are the
Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea and on the eastern side lies
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
The eastern Deccan plateau, called
Telangana , is made of vast sheets
of massive granite rock, which effectively traps rainwater. Under the
thin surface layer of soil is the impervious gray granite bedrock. It
rains here only during some months.
Comprising the northeastern part of the Deccan Plateau, the Telangana
Plateau has an area of about 148,000 km2, a north-south length of
about 770 km, and an east-west width of about 515 km.
The plateau is drained by the
Godavari River taking a southeasterly
course; by the Krishna River, which divides the peneplain into two
regions; and by the Pennai Aaru River flowing in a northerly
direction. The plateau's forests are moist deciduous, dry deciduous,
and tropical thorn.
Most of the population of the region is engaged in agriculture;
cereals, oilseeds, cotton, and pulses (legumes) are the major crops.
There are multipurpose irrigation and hydroelectric-power projects,
including the Pochampad, Bhaira Vanitippa, and Upper Pennai Aaru.
Industries (located in Hyderabad ,
Warangal , and
Kurnool ) produce
cotton textiles, sugar, foodstuffs, tobacco, paper, machine tools, and
pharmaceuticals. Cottage industries are forest-based (timber,
firewood, charcoal, bamboo products) and mineral-based (asbestos,
coal, chromite, iron ore, mica, and kyanite).
THE DECCAN TRAPS
The northwestern part of the plateau is made up of lava flows or
igneous rocks known as the Deccan Traps. The rocks are spread over the
Maharashtra and parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, thereby
making it one of the largest volcanic provinces in the world. It
consists of more than 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) of flat-lying basalt
lava flows and covers an area of nearly 500,000 square kilometres
(190,000 sq mi) in west-central India. Estimates of the original area
covered by the lava flows are as high as 1,500,000 square kilometres
(580,000 sq mi). The volume of basalt is estimated to be 511,000 cubic
km. The thick dark soil (called regur) found here is suitable for
The volcanic basalt beds of the Deccan were laid down in the massive
Deccan Traps eruption, which occurred towards the end of the
Cretaceous period between 67 and 66 million years ago. Some
paleontologists speculate that this eruption may have accelerated the
extinction of the dinosaurs . Layer after layer was formed by the
volcanic activity that lasted many thousands of years, and when the
volcanoes became extinct, they left a region of highlands with
typically vast stretches of flat areas on top like a table.The
volcanic hotspot that produced the Deccan traps is hypothesized to lie
under the present day island of
Réunion in the Indian Ocean.
Typically the Deccan
Plateau is made up of basalt extending up to
Bhor Ghat near
Karjat . This is an extrusive igneous rock . Also in
certain sections of the region, we can find granite , which is an
intrusive igneous rock . The difference between these two rock types
is: basalt rock forms on eruption of lava, that is, on the surface
(either out of a volcano, or through massive fissures—as in the
Deccan basalts—in the ground), while granite forms deep within the
Granite is a felsic rock, meaning it is rich in potassium
feldspar and quartz . This composition is continental in origin
(meaning it is the primary composition of the continental crust ).
Since it cooled relatively slowly, it has large visible crystals.
Basalt, on the other hand, is mafic in composition—meaning it is
rich in pyroxene and, in some cases, olivine , both of which are Mg
-Fe rich minerals.
Basalt is similar in composition to mantle rocks ,
indicating that it came from the mantle and did not mix with
Basalt forms in areas that are spreading, whereas
granite forms mostly in areas that are colliding. Since both rocks are
found in the Deccan Plateau, it indicates two different environments
The Deccan is rich in minerals. Primary mineral ores found in this
region are mica and iron ore in the Chhota
Nagpur region, and diamonds
, gold and other metals in the
The large areas of remaining forest on the plateau are still home to
a variety of grazing animals from the four-horned antelope (Tetracerus
quadricornis), chinkara (Gazella bennettii), and blackbuck (Antilope
cervicapra) to the large gaur and wild water buffalo (Bubalus arena).
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The Deccan is home to many languages and people.
Bhil and Gond people
live in the hills along the northern and northeastern edges of the
plateau, and speak various languages that belong to both the
Indo-European and Dravidian families of languages. Marathi , and
Indo-Aryan language , is the main language of the north-western Deccan
in the state of
Maharashtra . Speakers of Telugu and Kannada , the
predominant languages of
Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka
respectively, occupy those states' portions of the plateau. The city
of Hyderabad is an important center of the
Urdu language in the
Deccan; its surrounding areas also host a notable population of Urdu
Urdu dialect spoken in this region is also known as
Dakhini or as Deccani, named after the region itself. North of Andhra
is the state of Odisha. People speak the language Oriya here.
The chief crop is cotton ; also common are sugarcane , rice , and
Apart from the states already mentioned, the state of
found in the northeast corner of the plateau. The large cities in the
Deccan are Hyderabad , the capital of Telangana, Bangalore, the
Pune , the cultural hub of Maharashtra. Other
major cities include
Latur and Aurangabad in Maharashtra;
Rajahmundry in Andhra
Ramagundam , Nizamabad ,
See also: History of
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The Deccan produced some of the most significant dynasties in Indian
History like the
Chola dynasty ,
Satavahana dynasty , Vakataka dynasty
Chalukya dynasty ,
Rashtrakuta dynasty ,
Western Chalukya Empire ,
Vijayanagara Empire and
Maratha Empire . Of the early history, the
main facts established are the growth of the Mauryan empire (300 BC)
and after that the Deccan was ruled by the
Satavahana dynasty which
protected the Deccan against the Scythian invaders. Prominent
dynasties of this time include the Cholas (3rd century BC to 12th
century AD), Chalukyas (6th to 12th centuries), Rashtrakutas
(753–982), Hoysalas (10th to 14th centuries), Kakatiya (1083 to 1323
Vijayanagara Empire (1336–1646).
Ahir Kings once ruled over
the Deccan. A cave inscription at
Nasik refers to the reign of an
Abhira prince named
Ishwarsena , son of Shivadatta. After the
collapse of the
Satavahana dynasty the Deccan was ruled by the
Vakataka dynasty from the 3rd century to 5th century.
From the 6th to 8th century the Deccan was ruled by the Chalukya
dynasty which produced great rulers like
Pulakesi II who defeated the
Vikramaditya II whose general defeated
the Arab invaders in the 8th century. From the 8th to 10th century the
Rashtrakuta dynasty ruled this region. It led successful military
campaigns into northern
India and was described by Arab scholars as
one of the four great empires of the world. In the 10th century the
Western Chalukya Empire was established which produced scholars like
the social reformer
Vijñāneśvara , the mathematician
Bhāskara II and
Someshwara III who wrote the text Manasollasa. From
the early 11th century to the 12th century the Deccan
dominated by the
Western Chalukya Empire and the
Chola dynasty .
Several battles were fought between the
Western Chalukya Empire and
Chola dynasty in the Deccan
Plateau during the reigns of Raja Raja
Chola I ,
Rajendra Chola I , Jayasimha II ,
Someshvara I and
Vikramaditya VI and
Kulottunga I .
Alauddin Khilji , emperor of Delhi, invaded the Deccan,
stormed Devagiri, and reduced the Yadava rajas of
Maharashtra to the
position of tributary princes (see Daulatabad ), then proceeding
southward to conquer the
Telangana and Carnatic . In 1307, a fresh
Muslim incursions led by
Malik Kafur began in response to
unpaid tributes, resulting in the final ruin of the Yadava power; and
in 1338 the conquest of the Deccan was completed by Sultan Muhammad
bin Tughluq . The imperial hegemony was brief, as soon
Karnataka reverted to their former masters. These defections by the
Hindu states was soon followed by a general revolt of the Muslim
governors, resulting in the establishment in 1347 of the independent
Muslim dynasty of
Bahmani . The power of the Delhi sultanate
evaporated south of the
Narmada River . The southern Deccan came under
the rule of the famous
Vijayanagara Empire which reached its zenith
during the reign of Emperor
Krishnadevaraya . Jahangir receives
Prince Khurram on his return from the Deccan (10 October 1617).
In the power struggles which ensued, the
Hindu kingdom of Telingana
fell bit by bit to the Bahamani dynasty, who advanced their frontier
Golkonda in 1373, to
Warangal in 1421, and to the
Bay of Bengal in
Krishnadevaraya of the
Vijayanagara Empire defeated the last
Bahmani Sultanate power after which the
collapsed. When the
Bahmani empire dissolved in 1518, its dominions
were distributed into the five
Muslim states of
Golkonda , Bijapur ,
Bidar and Berar , giving rise to the
Deccan sultanates .
South of these, the
Hindu state of Carnatic or Vijayanagar still
survived; but this, too, was defeated, at the Battle of Talikota
(1565) by a league of the
Muslim powers. Berar had already been
Ahmednagar in 1572, and
Bidar was absorbed by Bijapur in
1619. Mughal interest in the Deccan also rose at this time; Ahmadnagar
was partially incorporated in the Empire in 1598 and as fully in 1636,
Bijapur in 1686, and
Golkonda in 1688.
Shivaji laid the foundation of the
Maratha Empire which
within 75 years of his death covered territory of over 250 million
acres (1 million km²) or one-third of the
Indian sub-continent .
Shivaji directly challenged the foreign rule of the
Bijapur Sultanate and ultimately the mighty
Mughal empire . Once the
Bijapur Sultanate stopped being a threat to the Maratha Empire,
Marathas became much more aggressive and began to frequently raid
Mughal territory. The Marathas had conquered part of central and
India by Shivaji's death in 1680. After Shivaji, Sambhaji
defended the Maratha empire from the Mughal onslaught led by
Aurangzeb. Marathas defeated Mughals in the prolonged war. After 1707,
the Marathas acquired the right to levy tribute in southern India.
After the death of Chhatrapati Shahu , the Peshwas became the de facto
leaders of the Empire from 1749 to 1761, while Shivaji's successors
continued as nominal rulers from their base in Satara . The Marathas
kept the British at bay during the 18th century. By 1760, with the
defeat of the Nizam in the Deccan, Maratha power had reached its
zenith. However, dissension between the Peshwa and their sardars (army
commanders) saw a gradual downfall of the Empire leading to its
eventual annexation by the British East
India Company in 1818 after
Anglo-Maratha wars .
A few years later, the
Aurangzeb 's viceroy in Ahmednagar,
Nizam-ul-Mulk , established the seat of an independent government at
Hyderabad in 1724.
Mysore was ruled by
Hyder Ali . During the contests
for power which ensued from about the middle of the 18th century
between the powers on the plateau, the French and British took
opposite sides. After a brief course of triumph, the interests of
France declined, and a new empire in
India was established by the
Mysore formed one of their earliest conquests in the Deccan.
Tanjore and the Carnatic were soon annexed to their dominions,
followed by the Peshwa territories in 1818.
India , the plateau was largely divided between the
presidencies of Bombay and Madras . The two largest native states at
that time were Hyderabad and
Mysore ; many smaller states existed at
the time, including
Kolhapur , and
After independence in 1947, almost all native states were
incorporated into the Republic of
India . Hyderabad refused to join,
and was annexed by the Indian Army in
Operation Polo in 1948. In
States Reorganisation Act reorganized states along
linguistic lines, leading to the states currently found on the
Deccan plateau is very rich in minerals and precious stones. The
plateau’s mineral wealth led many lowland rulers, including those of
the Mauryan (4th–2nd century BCE) and Gupta (4th–6th century CE)
dynasties, to fight over it. Major minerals found here includes,
coal, iron ore , asbestos, chromite, mica, and kyanite. Since March
2011, large deposits of uranium , has been discovered in the
Tummalapalle belt and in the Bhima basin at Gogi in
Karnataka . The
Tummalapalle belt uranium reserves promises to be one of the top 20
uranium reserves discovery of the world.
Low rainfall made farming difficult until the introduction of
irrigation. Currently, percentage area under cultivation is quite low,
ranging from 60% in
Maharastra to about 10% in
Western Ghats . Except
in areas of certain developed river valleys, double-cropping is rare.
Rice is the predominant crop in high-rainfall areas and sorghum in
low-rainfall areas. Other crops of significance includes cotton,
tobacco, oilseeds , and sugar cane. Coffee, tea, coconuts, areca,
pepper, rubber, cashew nuts, tapioca, and cardamom are widely grown on
plantations in the
Nilgiri Hills and on the western slopes of the
Western Ghats. Cultivation of
Jatropha have recently got more
attention due to the
Jatropha incentives in
Calligraphic emblem of sculpted sandstone – 16th century
Nimmatnama-i Nasiruddin-Shahi (the Book of Recipes)
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