Deccan Plateau

From BharatWiki

The Deccan Plateau (Marathi: डेक्कन), also known as "The Great Country", is a vast elevated tableland area with widely varying terrain features making up the majority of the southern India located between three ranges and extending over eight states. It's uplands make up an interior triangle nested within the familiar downward pointing triangle of the Indian sub-continents coastline. It is technically a vast plateau with a wide range of habitats, encompassing most of Central and Southern India. It is bounded in the west by the Western Ghats and in the east by the Eastern Ghats which each rise from their respective nearby coastal plains and nearly meet at the southern tip of India. These two formations form the southward pointing vertex of a triangle which encompasses the plateau with the roughly West-south-west to East-north-east running Vindhya Range forming the third side of the canine-tooth shaped triangular region. The Vindhya's separate the tableland from the heavily populated riverine plains of Northern India.

It makes up large areas of the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh south of the Vindhya range and has an elevation which ranges from 100 metres in the north to 1000 metres in the south.

This region is one of the most stable land masses of the world. For thousands of years the Deccan forests have harvested the rainfall to form the catchment areas of mighty rivers. The name Deccan is an anglicised form of the Prakrit word dakkhin, itself derived from the Sanskrit word dakṣiṇa- (Sanskrit: दक्शिण), meaning 'South'.

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Geography

The Deccan Plateau lies south of the Indo-Gangetic plain. The Western Ghats Mountain Range is 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.

The Godavari River and its tributaries, including the Indravati River, drain most of the northern portion of the plateau, rising in the Western Ghats and flowing east towards the Bay of Bengal. The Tungabhadra River, Krishna River and its tributaries, including the Bhima River, which also run from west to east, drain the central portion of the plateau. The southernmost portion 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 Hogenakal Falls into Tamil Nadu, then forming the Sivasamudram Falls at island town of Shivanasamudra, the second biggest waterfall in India and the sixteenth largest in the world, before flowing into the Stanley Reservoir and the Mettur Dam that created the reservoir and finally emptying into the Bay of Bengal.The two rivers that do not flow into the Bay Of Bengal are Narmada and Tapi.They start in the eastern ghats and flow into the Arabian sea.

The rivers of the Himalayas are snow-fed and so perennial throughout the year. But the rivers of the Deccan Plateau depend on the rains and so they dry up in the summers.

History

The detailed and authentic history of the Deccan only begins with the 13th century A.D. Of the early history the main facts established are the Aryan invasion (c. 700 B.C.), the growth of the Maurya empire (250 B.C.) and the invasion (A.D. 100) of the Scythic tribes known as the Sakas, Pahlavas and Yavanas, which led to the establishment of the power of the Kshaharata satraps in western India.

In 1294 Ala-ud-Din Khilji, emperor of Dhelhi, invaded the Deccan, stormed Devagiri, and reduced the Yadava rajas of Maharashtra to the position of tributary princes (see Daulatabad), then proceeding southward overran Telingana and Carnata). With this event the continuous history of the Deccan begins. In 1307, owing to non-payment of tribute, a fresh series of Mussulman incursions began, under Malik Kafur, issuing in the final ruin of the Yadava power; and in 1338 the reduction of the Deccan was completed by Mahommed ben Tughlak. The imperial hegemony was of brief duration as soon Telingana and Carnata speedily reverted to their former masters and these defections by the Hindu states was soon followed by a general revolt of the Mussulman governors, resulting in the establishment in 1347 of the independent Muslim dynasty of Bahmani, and the consequent withdrawal of the power of Delhi from the territory south of the Nerbudda River.

In the power struggles which ensued, the Hindu kingdom of Telingana fell bit by bit to the Bahmani dynasty, who advanced their frontier to Golconda in 1373, to Warangal in 1421, and to the Bay of Bengal in 1472. On the dissolution of the Bahmani empire (1482), its dominions were distributed into the five Muslim states of Golconda, Bijapur, Ahmednagar, Bidar and Berar. To the south of these the great Hindu state of Carnata or Vijayanagar still survived; but this, too, was destroyed, at the battle of Talikota (1565), by a league of the Muslim powers. These latter in their turn soon disappeared. Berar had already been annexed by Ahmednagar in 1572, and Bidar was absorbed by Bijapur in 1609. The victories of the Delhi emperors, Akbar, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, crushed the rest. Ahmednagar was incorporated in the Mogul empire in 1598, Bijapur in 1686, and Golconda in 1688. The rule of the Delhi emperors in the Deccan did not, however, long survive.. In 1706 the Mahrattas acquired the right of levying tribute in southern India, and their principal chief, the Peshwa of Poona, became a practically independent sovereign. A few years later the emperor's viceroy in Ahmednagar, the nizam-al-mulk, threw off his allegiance and established the seat of an independent government at Hyderabad (1724). The remainder of the imperial possessions in the peninsula were held by chieftains acknowledging the supremacy of one or other of these two potentates. In the sequel, Mysore became the prize of the Muslim usurper Hyder Ali. During the contests for power which ensued about the middle of the 18th century between the native chiefs, the French and the English took opposite sides. After a brief course of triumph, the interests of France declined, and a new empire in India was established by the British. Mysore formed one of their earliest conquests in the Deccan. Tanjore and the Carnatic were shortly after annexed to their dominions. In 1818 the forfeited possessions of the Peshwa added to their extent; and these acquisitions, with others which have more recently fallen to the paramount power by cession, conquest or failure of heirs, form a continuous territory stretching from the Nerbudda to Cape Comorin. This vast tract comprehends the chief provinces now distributed between the presidencies of Madras and Bombay, together with the native states of Hyderabad and Mysore, and those of Kolhapur, Sawantwari, Travancore, Cochin and the petty possessions of France and Portugal. (EB 1911)

Geology

The vast volcanic basalt beds of the Deccan were laid down in the massive Deccan Traps eruption, which occurred at the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago. Some paleontologists speculate that this eruption may have caused 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. Hence it is also known as Table Top.

Typically the Deccan Plateau is made up of basalt extending upto 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 are: 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 underground, 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 continental rocks. Basalt forms in areas that are spreading, whereas granite forms 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 Golconda region.

People

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, an Indo-Aryan language, is the main language of the north-western portion of the Deccan plateau. Speakers of Telugu and Kannada, the predominant languages of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka respectively, occupy those states' portions of the plateau. Tamil is the main language of the country to the south of the plateau, and Malayalam that of the hills and coast to the south-west. The city of Hyderabad is an important centre of Urdu language in the Deccan; its surrounding areas also host a notable population of Urdu speakers.

The chief crop is cotton, however sugarcane, rice and other crops are also common. Several Indian states cover parts of the Deccan: Maharashtra covers most of the northern plateau, and Chhattisgarh the northeast corner. Andhra Pradesh covers the east-central portion of the Deccan, and Karnataka the west-central and most of the southern portion of the plateau, with the southernmost portion in Tamil Nadu. The largest city in the Deccan is Bangalore, southern India. Other major cities include Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, Mumbai,economy capital of India, Nagpur, Pune, and Sholapur in Maharashtra.