The Peninsular Plateau

The Peninsular Plateau of India is also named as the Plateau of Peninsular India. Its biggest part is known as the Deccan Plateau, comprising the most part of southern portion of the nation. The plateau ascends 100 meters in the north, ascending further to over 1,000 meters to the south, creating an elevated triangle situated in the well-known downhill-moving triangle of the seashore of the Indian subcontinent.

The Deccan Plateau stretches over eight states in India and covers a broad variety of environments, encompassing the majority of the Central and South Indian regions.

The Deccan Plateau is lying in the middle of three mountain ranges; the Eastern Ghats creates its eastern border and the Western Ghats its western border. Each of the two mountain ranges ascends from their particular adjacent seaward plains and almost joins at the southernmost point of India.

The Deccan Plateau is dissevered from the Gangetic Basin towards the north by the Vindhya and Satpura Mountain Ranges, which create its northern border.

The expression Deccan is an anglicized variant of the expression in Prakrit, dakkhin, and it originated from the Sanskrit expression dákṣiṇa, which stands for “south”.

Geography of Peninsular Plateau

The Peninsular Plateau can be broadly categorized into the Central Highlands and the Deccan Plateau. To the south of the Satpura Mountain Range, the Indian peninsula is known as the Deccan Plateau.

Central Highlands - The northern segment of the peninsular cluster is known as the Central Highlands, despite the fact that they are not really so high. It was formed from hard metamorphic and igneous rocks. The cluster consists of two segments, demarcated by the west-running Narmada River. The Vindhyas and its eastern stretches enclose the one situated to the north on one region. To the north-west, it is edged by the Aravalli Mountain Ranges. The plateau extends more to the west, but is intersected by the arenaceous and stony arid region of Rajasthan. These are quite old examples of fold mountains. On the third side, this plateau fuses gradually in the Gangetic Plains of the north. This is named as the Malwa Plateau. It is considerably broad in the west and becomes narrowed to the east. The eastern portion is named as Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand, both them lying in South Uttar Pradesh. In Southern Bihar, it is known as Chota Nagpur Plateau. The southern tributaries of the Ganga River and Yamuna River drain the plateau.

Deccan Plateau - The Deccan Plateau is situated to the south of the Indo-Gangetic Basin. The Western Ghats Mountain Range is quite high and stops the humidity from the southwestern monsoon from arriving at the plateau. Therefore, the area gets negligible precipitation.

The eastern segment of the Deccan Plateau is lying at a lower altitude, covering the southeast shoreline of India. The jungles are also comparatively arid but function to preserve the rainwaters to create torrents that supply rivers that move into valleys and subsequently into the Bay of Bengal.

Majority of rivers in the Deccan Plateau run from the west to the east. The Godavari River and its confluents, including the Indravati River, irrigate the majority of the northern part of the terrain, ascending in the Western Ghats and running to the east in the direction of Bay of Bengal. The Krishna River, Tungabhadra River, and the tributaries of the Krishna River, which include the Bhima River, which also flows from the west to east, irrigate the middle segment of the plateau. The southernmost section of the plateau is irrigated by the Kaveri River, which has its source in the Western Ghats Mountain Range in Karnataka and twists to the south to penetrate the Nilgiri Mountains at Hogenakal Waterfalls into Tamil Nadu, subsequently creating the Sivasamudram Falls at the island township of Shivanasamudra, which is the second largest waterfall in India and also the 16th biggest in the world, prior to pouring into the Stanley Reservoir and the Mettur Dam that formed the reservoir. The river ultimately pours into the Bay of Bengal.

The two major rivers, which don’t pour into the Bay of Bengal are the Tapti and Narmada River. They have their sources located in the Eastern Ghats Mountain Range and pour into Arabian Sea. All rivers on the Deccan Plateau rely on the precipitation and become dehydrated in the summer months.

The weather of the territory differs from semi-dry weather in the north to tropical in majority of the areas with separate moist and arid periods. Precipitations take place during the monsoon months from around June to October. The period between March to June is quite arid and warm with temperatures going over 40°C on a constant basis.

Deccan Plateau is a triangle-shaped plateau that encompasses the majority of areas of peninsular India. Its northern fringes are the Chota Nagpur Plateau and Satpura Range. Mountains, known as the Eastern and Western Ghats, create the other borders of the triangle and are joined at its summit by the Anna Malai, Nilgiri, and Cardamom hills. The mean altitude of the plateau is 600 meters (2,000 feet) over sea surface. The hillsides incline from 900 m (3,000 feet) in the west to 450 m (1,500 feet) in the east.

The Deccan Plateau is densely inhabited. It has fertile soil and grows various crops, mostly cotton.

Geology of Peninsular Plateau

The volcanic basalt layers of the Deccan Plateau were formed as a result of the enormous volcanic outbreak in the Deccan Traps. This took place at the close of the Cretaceous era between 65 and 67 million years back. A number of paleontologists/fossilists believe that this volcanic outbreak might have sped up the extermination of the dinosaurs. Level after level was created due to the volcanic eruptions that continued for several thousand years. As the volcanoes became dormant, they left over an area of tablelands with characteristically huge expanses of plains similar to a table. The volcanic hotspot that created the Deccan Traps is supposed to be situated beneath the contemporary Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.

Usually, the Deccan Terrain comprises basalt stretching till Bhor Ghat close to Karjat. This is an example of extrusive igneous rock. In addition, in particular spots of the zone, you will see granite, which is a category of intrusive igneous rock. The dissimilarity between these two categories of rock is that basalt is created by volcanic eruption, i.e., on the crust of the earth (either emitted by a volcano or from huge cracks similar to those in the Deccan volcanic rocks – on the land) and on the other hand, granite is produced in the depth of the earth. Granite is a form of felsic stone, which suggests it is filled with quartz and potassium feldspar. This blend is continental in its lineage (it is the major blend of the continental crust). As it lost heat in a comparatively gradual manner, it features big observable crystals. In contrast, Basalt is mafic in its characteristics, which indicates it contains a good amount of pyroxene and on certain occasions, olivine. Both of them are loaded with minerals like magnesium (Mg) and iron (Fe). In terms of constitution, basalt is like mantle stones, suggesting that originated from the mantle and was not blended with the continental stones. Basalt is produced in locations that are stretching while granite is produced primarily in locations that are having a collision. As both categories of rocks are seen in the Deccan terrain, it shows two separate settings of composition.

The Deccan Plateau is affluent with minerals. Major mineral ores seen in this area are iron ore and mica in the Chhota Nagpur plateau and gold, diamond, and other precious metals in the Golconda area in Andhra Pradesh.

People of Deccan Plateau

The Deccan Plateau is home to various people and languages. Gond and Bhil citizens stay in the hills beside the northern and northeastern borders of the terrain and talk in different languages that come under both the Dravidian and Indo-European group of languages. The principal language of the northwestern segment of the Deccan Plateau in the Maharashtra state is Marathi, which is a type of an Indo-Aryan language. People who speak in Kannada and Telugu, the major languages of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh respectively, inhabit those states’ parts of the terrain. The major language of Tamil Nadu to the south of the Deccan Plateau is Tamil, and Malayalam in the state of Kerala. Kerala is famous for the mountains and beaches to the southwest. The city of Hyderabad is a key hub of Urdu language in the plateau; its neighboring zones also are home to a significant number of people who speak the Urdu language. The Urdu language conversed in this area is also named as Deccani or Dakhni.

The principal harvest is cotton, nevertheless, rice, sugarcane, and other produces are also seen.

Other than the states already named, the Chhattisgarh state is located in the northeast end of the plateau. Bangalore (also known as Bengaluru) is the biggest city in the Deccan Plateau and it is also the capital of Karnataka. Other important cities include Nagpur, Pune, and Aurangabad (in Maharashtra) and Hyderabad (in Andhra Pradesh).

Tourist Attractions on the Peninsular Plateau

Given below are the names of the prominent tourist attractions lying on the peninsular plateau:
  • Aurangabad
  • Bangalore (Bengaluru)
  • Badami
  • Bidar
  • Belgaum
  • Calicut
  • Bijapur
  • Hampi
  • Gulbarga
  • Hyderabad
  • Ooty
  • Mysore


The Deccan Plateau is famous for its biodiversity. The area is home to an exotic range of flora and fauna. Two of India’s most significant elephant conservation regions, the Anamalais-Nelliampathis and the Nilgiris-Eastern Ghats are located in this area. This zone is also famous for housing forests and ecoregions like the South Western Ghats Moist Deciduous Forests, South Western Ghats Montane Rain Forests, and South Deccan Plateau Dry Deciduous Forests.

The plant life of the ecoregion is greatly controlled by weather. The lofty Western Ghats Mountain Range stops the humidity from the monsoon in southwest; consequently, the eastern Deccan Plateau and hillsides get very modest precipitation; yearly precipitation varies from 900 to 1,500 mm. The rising and falling hillsides have extremely superficial soils.

The flora includes the following varieties:
  • Anogeissus latifolia
  • Boswellia serrata
  • Terminalia tomentosa
  • Acacia catechu
  • Terminalia belirica
  • Terminalia paniculata
  • Albizzia amara
  • Chloroxylon swietenia
  • Hardwickia binata
  • Cassia fistula
  • Sterospermum personatum
  • Dalbergia latifolia
  • Diospyros Montana
  • Pterocarpus marsupium
  • Shorea talura
  • Teak (Tectona grandis), though not seen frequently

One of the major varieties of this jungle, sandalwood (Santalum album), has been specifically done away with from majority of the forests in this ecoregion.

The Deccan Plateau features the single largest elephant population in India. There are more than 6,000 elephants in this region. There are more than 260 varieties of birds and some of them are almost indigenous species.

Two top-priority Tiger Conservation Units (TCUs) are located in this area and they are:

The ecoregion is home to 75 species of mammals. One, the seriously imperiled Salim Ali fruit bat, is an almost indigenous specie. Other endangered mammals include the following:
  • Wild dog (Cuon alpinus)
  • The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
  • Chousingha (Tetracerus quadricornis)
  • Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus)
  • Grizzled giant squirrel (Ratufa macruora)
  • Gaur (Bos gaurus)

In this ecoregion, two species, the lesser florican (Eupodotis indica) and Indian bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) are endangered worldwide and necessitate consideration for protection.

Other endemic and near-endemic bird and mammal species include the following:
Family Species
Pteropodidae, Latidens salimalii

Family Common Name Species
Pycnonotidae, Yellow-throated bulbul, Pycnonotus xantholaemus
Timaliidae Rufous babbler Turdoides subrufus

Threats in the area

There are several types of threats in the Deccan Plateau area and some of them are as follows:

  • Switch to cash crop cultivation areas
  • Overgrazing by big flocks of domestic animals
  • Unwarranted fuel wood gathering
  • Mining
  • Setting up of dams
  • Colonization of relocated people
  • Poaching (illegal hunting, capturing, or killing of animals)
  • Industrialization

Protected/Conserved Areas Situated in the Plateau

Given below are the names of the protected areas that are lying in the plateau:

  • Marudhamalai Temple
  • Perur Temple
  • Thiromoorthy Temple
  • Bhavani
  • Bannerghatta
  • Bilgiri Ranga Swamy Temple
  • Ranganthittu
  • Melkote Temple
  • Vedanthangal
  • Arabithittu
  • Cauvery

Last Updated on 02 February 2011



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