The Deccan Plateau is a large plateau in southern India. It rises
to 100 metres (330 ft) in the north, and to more than 1,000
metres (3,300 ft) in the south, forming a raised triangle within
the South-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 India.
The plateau is located between two mountain ranges, the Western Ghats
and the 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
Indian history Pallavas, Satavahana,
Vakataka, Chalukya, and Rashtrakuta dynasties, the Western Chalukya,
the Kadamba Dynasty, Kakatiya Empire, Vijayanagara and Maratha empires
Bahmani Sultanate, Deccan Sultanate, and the Nizam of
4 The Deccan Traps
12 External links
The name Deccan is an anglicised form of the Prakrit word dakkhin or
dakkhaṇa, itself derived from the
Sanskrit word dákṣiṇa
(meaning "southern"), as the Deccan
Plateau is located in southern
part of subcontinent.
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 peninsula showing the locations of major
cities and towns.
Hogenakal Falls, Tamil Nadu
Near Hampi, Karnataka
Rock formations at Hyderabad,
Telangana Hills of granite boulders are
a common feature of the landscape on the Deccan plateau.
Deccan Traps in Maharashtra
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 Plateau
is 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,
including the 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,
including the 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 the Satpura Range, which has popularly been regarded as
the divide between northern
India and the Deccan. The name derives
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
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 Kerala, 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 the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
The eastern Deccan plateau, called
Rayalaseema are 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
Main article: 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 silt) found here is suitable for cotton cultivation
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 Earth.
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.
similar in composition to mantle rocks, indicating that it came from
the mantle and did not mix with continental rocks.
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 of formation.
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-Aryan and Dravidian families of languages. Marathi, an 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,
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
Northeastern parts of the Deccan are in the state of Odisha. Odia
another Indo-Aryan language is spoken in this part of Deccan. The Urdu
dialect spoken in this region is also known as
Dakhini or as Deccani,
named after the region itself.
The chief crop is cotton; also common are sugarcane, rice, and other
Apart from the states already mentioned, the state of
found in the northeast corner of the plateau. The large cities in the
Deccan are Pune, the cultural hub of Maharashtra, Nagpur, the winter
capital of Maharashtra, Bangalore, the capital of
Hyderabad, the capital of
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Other major
cities include Mysore,
Bellary in Karnataka; Amravati,
Latur and Aurangabad in Maharashtra; Amaravati,
Visakhapatnam, Kurnool, Kadapa, Anantapur, Vijayawada, Guntur,
Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh; and Warangal,
Karimnagar, Ramagundam, Nizamabad, Jammikunta,
Mahbubnagar in present
See also: History of India
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The Deccan produced some of the most significant dynasties in Indian
History like the Chola dynasty, Satavahana dynasty, Vakataka dynasty,
Kadamba dynasty, Chalukya dynasty, Rashtrakuta dynasty, Western
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, the
Western Satraps. 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 AD) and Vijayanagara Empire
Ahir Kings once ruled over the Deccan. A cave
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
Western Chalukya Empire
Western Chalukya Empire was established which produced scholars
like the social reformer Basava, 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
Western Chalukya Empire and the Chola dynasty.
Several battles were fought between the
Western Chalukya Empire
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.
In 1294, Alauddin Khalji, 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 Andhra, Carnatic. In 1307, a fresh series of
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 Andhra and Karnataka
reverted to their former masters. These defections by the
was soon followed by a general revolt of the
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
Vijayanagara Empire which reached its zenith during the
reign of Emperor Krishnadevaraya.
In the power struggles which ensued, the
Hindu kingdom of Andhra fell
bit by bit to the Bahamani dynasty, who advanced their frontier to
Golkonda in 1373, to
Warangal in 1421, and to the
Bay of Bengal
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,
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 annexed by
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.
Ruler of Deccan- Chhatrapati
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. Marathas under
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
the three 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.
In British 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 Sawantwari.
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 1956, the States
Reorganisation Act reorganized states along linguistic lines, leading
to the states currently found on the plateau.
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
include coal, iron ore, asbestos, chromite, mica, and kyanite. Since
March 2011, large deposits of uranium have been discovered in the
Tummalapalle belt and in the Bhima basin at Gogi in Karnataka. The
Tummalapalle belt uranium reserve promises to be one of the top
20 uranium reserve discoveries of the world.
Low rainfall made farming difficult until the introduction of
irrigation. Currently, the area under cultivation is quite low,
ranging from 60% in
Maharastra to about 10% in Western Ghats.
Except in developed areas of certain river valleys, double-cropping is
Rice is the predominant crop in high-rainfall areas and sorghum
in low-rainfall areas. Other crops of significance include 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 has recently received more
attention due to the
Jatropha incentives in India.
Calligraphic emblem of sculpted sandstone – 16th century
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Karbi Anglong Plateau
Coordinates: 17°N 77°E / 17°N