Vindhya Range (pronounced [ʋɪnd̪ʱjə]) is a complex,
discontinuous chain of mountain ridges, hill ranges, highlands and
plateau escarpments in west-central India.
Technically, the Vindhyas do not form a single mountain range in the
geological sense. The exact extent of the Vindhyas is loosely defined,
and historically, the term covered a number of distinct hill systems
in central India, including the one that is now known as the Satpura
Range. Today, the term principally refers to the escarpment that runs
north of and roughly parallel to the
Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh,
and its hilly extensions. Depending on the definition, the range
extends up to
Gujarat in the west,
Uttar Pradesh in the north and
Bihar in the east.
The Vindhyas have a great significance in Indian mythology and
history. Several ancient texts mention the Vindhyas as the southern
boundary of the Āryāvarta, the territory of the ancient Indo-Aryan
peoples. Although today
Indo-Aryan languages are spoken to south of
the Vindhyas, the range continues to be considered as the traditional
boundary between north and south India. The former
Vindhya Pradesh was
named after the Vindhya Range.
Etymology and names
2.1 Historical definitions
2.2 Present-day definition
4 Cultural significance
6 Geology and paleontology
Etymology and names
According to the author of a commentary on Amarakosha, the word
Vindhya derives from the
Sanskrit word vaindh (to obstruct). A
mythological story (see below) states that the Vindhyas once
obstructed the path of the sun, resulting in this name. Ramayana
Valmiki states that the great mountain Vindhya that was growing
incessantly and obstructing the path of the Sun stopped growing any
more in obedience to Agastya's words. According to another theory,
the name "Vindhya" means "hunter" in Sanskrit, and may refer to the
tribal hunter-gatherers inhabiting the region.
The Vindhya range is also known as "Vindhyachala" or "Vindhyachal";
the suffix achala (Sanskrit) or achal (Hindi) refers to a
mountain. In the Mahabharata, the range is also referred to as
Vindhyapadaparvata. The Greek geographer
Ptolemy called the range
Vindius or Ouindion, describing it as the source of Namados (Narmada)
and Nanagouna (Tapti) rivers. The "Daksinaparvata" ("Southern
Mountain") mentioned in the
Kaushitaki Upanishad is also identified
with the Vindhyas.
The Vindhyas do not form a single range in the proper geological
sense: the hills collectively known as the Vindhyas do not lie along
an anticlinal or synclinal ridge. The Vindhya range is actually a
group of discontinuous chain of mountain ridges, hill ranges,
highlands and plateau escarpments. The term "Vindhyas" is defined by
convention, and therefore, the exact definition of the Vindhya range
has varied at different times in history.
Vindhya range seen from Mandav, Madhya Pradesh
Earlier, the term "Vindhyas" was used in a wider sense, and included a
number of hill ranges between the
Indo-Gangetic plain and the Deccan
Plateau. According to the various definitions mentioned in the older
texts, the Vindhyas extend up to Godavari in the south and
In certain Puranas, the term Vindhya specifically covers the mountain
range located between the
Narmada and the
Tapti rivers; that is, the
one which is now known as the Satpura Range. The Varaha Purana
uses the name "Vindhya-pada" ("foot of the Vindhyas") for the Satpura
Several ancient Indian texts and inscriptions (e.g. the Nasik Prasasti
of Gautamiputra Satakarni) mention three mountain ranges in Central
India: Vindhya (or "Vindhya proper"), Rksa (also Rksavat or Riksha)
and Pariyatra (or Paripatra). The three ranges are included in the
seven Kula Parvatas ("clan mountains") of
Bharatavarsha i.e. India.
The exact identification of these three ranges is difficult due to
contrasting descriptions in the various texts. For example, the Kurma,
Matsya and Brahmanda
Puranas mention Vindhya as the source of Tapti;
while Vishnu and Brahma
Puranas mention the Rksa as its source.
Some texts use the term Vindhyas to describe all the hills in Central
In one passage, Valmiki's
Ramayana describes Vindhya as being situated
to the south of
Ramayana IV-46. 17), which is identified
with a part of the present-day Karnataka. It further implies that the
sea was located just to the south of the Vindhyas, and
located across this sea. Many scholars have attempted to explain this
anamoly in different ways. According to one theory, the term
"Vindhyas" covered a number of mountains to the south of the
Indo-Aryan territories at the time
Ramayana was written. Others, such
as Frederick Eden Pargiter, believe that there was another mountain in
South India, with the same name.
Madhav Vinayak Kibe placed the
Lanka in Central India.
The Barabar Cave inscription of
Maukhari Anantavarman mentions the
Nagarjuni hill of
Bihar as a part of the Vindhyas.
Map of prominent mountain ranges in India, showing Vindhyas in central
Today, the definition of the Vindhyas is primarily restricted to the
Central Indian escarpments, hills and highlands located to the north
Narmada River. Some of these are actually distinct hill
The western end of the Vindhya range is located in the state of
Gujarat, near the state's border with
Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, at
the eastern side of the
Gujarat peninsula. A series of hills connects
the Vindhya extension to the
Aravalli Range near Champaner. The
Vindhya range rises in height east of Chhota Udaipur.
The principal Vindhya range forms the southern escarpment of the
Central Indian upland. It runs roughly parallel to the Naramada river
in the east-west direction, forming the southern wall of the Malwa
plateau in Madhya Pradesh.
The eastern portion of the Vindhyas comprises multiple chains, as the
range divides into branches east of Malwa. A southern chain of
Vindhyas runs between the upper reaches of the Son and
to meet the
Satpura Range in the Maikal Hills near Amarkantak. A
northern chain of the Vindhyas continues eastwards as Bhander Plateau
and Kaimur Range, which runs north of the Son River. This extended
range runs through what was once Vindhya Pradesh, reaching up to the
Kaimur district of Bihar. The branch of the Vindhya range spanning
Bundelkhand is known as the Panna range. Another northern
extension (known as the
Vindhyachal hills) runs up to Uttar Pradesh,
stopping before the shores of Ganga at multiple places, including
Chunar (Mirzapur District), near Varanasi.
The Vindhyan tableland is a plateau that lies to the north of the
central part of the range. The Rewa-Panna plateaus are also
collectively known as the Vindhya plateau.
Different sources vary on the average elevation of the Vindhyas,
depending on their definition of the range. MC Chaturvedi mentions the
average elevation as 300 m. Pradeep Sharma states that the
"general elevation" of the Vindhyas is 300–650 m, with the range
rarely going over 700 m during its 1200 km extent.
The highest point of the Vindhyas is the Sad-bhawna Shikhar ("Goodwill
Peak"), which lies 2,467 feet (752 m) above the sea level.
Also known as the Kalumar peak or Kalumbe peak, it lies near
Singrampur in the Damoh district, in the area known as Bhanrer or
Panna hills. Historical texts include
Amarkantak (1000+ m) in the
Vindhyas, but today, it is considered a part of the Maikal Range,
which is considered as an extension of the Satpuras.
Vindhyas as seen from Bhimbetka
The Vindhyas are seen as the southern boundary of
Aryavarta in this
map. Note that historically, the term "Vindhyas" covered the Satpura
range that lies to the south of Narmada.
The Vindhyas are regarded as the traditional geographical boundary
between north Indian and south India, and have a distinguished
status in both mythology and geography of India. In the ancient
Indian texts, the Vindhyas are seen as the demarcating line between
the territories of the Indo-Aryans and that of the others. The most
ancient Hindu texts consider it as the southern boundary of
Mahabharata mentions that the Nishadas and other
Mleccha tribes reside in the forests of the Vindhyas. Although the
Indo-Aryan languages (such as Marathi and Konkani) spread to the south
of Vindhyas later, the Vindhyas continued to be seen as the
traditional boundary between the northern and the southern Indian
Vindhyas appear prominently in the Indian mythological tales. Although
the Vindhyas are not very high, historically, they were considered
highly inaccessible and dangerous due to dense vegetation and the
hostile tribes residing there. In the older
such as the Ramayana, they are described as the unknown territory
infested with cannibals and demons. The later texts describe the
Vindhya range as the residence of fierce form of
Shakti (goddess Kali
or Durga), who has lived there since slaying the demons. She is
Vindhyavasini ("Vindhya dweller"), and a temple dedicated
to her is located in the
Vindhyachal town of Uttar Pradesh.
Mahabharata mentions the Vindhyas as the "eternal abode" of
According to one legend, the Vindhya mountain once competed with the
Mount Meru, growing so high that it obstructed the sun. The sage
Agastya then asked Vindhya to lower itself, in order to facilitate his
passage across to the south. In reverence for Agastya, the Vindhya
lowered its height and promised not to grow until
Agastya returned to
Agastya settled in the south, and the Vindhya mountain,
true to its word, never grew further.
Kishkindha Kanda of Valmiki's
Ramayana mentions that Maya built a
mansion in the Vindhyas. In Dashakumaracharita, the King Rajahamsa
of Magadha and his ministers create a new colony in the Vindhya
forest, after being forced out of their kingdom following a war
A map of the "Vindhyan Series" from Geological Survey of
The Vindhyas are one of the only two mountain ranges mentioned in the
national anthem of India, the other being the Himalayas.
Several tributaries of the Ganga-Yamuna system originate from the
Vindhyas. These include Chambal, Betwa, Dhasan, Ken, Tamsa, Kali
Sindh and Parbati. The northern slopes of the Vindhyas are drained by
Narmada and Son rivers drain the southern slopes of the Vindhyas. Both
these rivers rise in the Maikal hills, which are now defined as an
extension of the Satpuras, although several older texts use the term
Vindhyas to cover them (see Historical definitions above).
Geology and paleontology
The "Vindhyan Supergroup" is one of the largest and thickest
sedimentary successions in the world.
The earliest known multicellular fossils of eukaryotes (filamentous
algae) have been discovered from Vindhya basin dating back to 1.6 to
1.7 billion years ago. Shelled creatures are documented to have
first evolved at the start of the Cambrian 'explosion of life', about
550 million years ago.
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Geography of South Asia
Mountains and plateaus
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Chittagong Hill Tracts
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Indus River Delta
Atolls of the Maldives
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
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