Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Deccan Plateau is a vast plateau in India, encompassing most of Central and Southern India. The name Deccan is anglicised form of the Prakrit dakkhin, itself derived from the Sanskrit dakshina, meaning south.
It lies south of the Indo-Gangetic plain. It is bounded by the Western Ghats in the west, the Eastern Ghats to the east, the Nilgiris in the south and the Satpura and Vindhya ranges in the north. The plateau elevation is about 500m on average. It is composed of black volcanic basalt soil. The chief crop is cotton, however sugarcane, rice and other crops 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 Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh. Other major cities include Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka, and Nagpur, Pune, and Sholapur in Maharashtra.
The Godavari River and its tributaries, including the Indravati , drain most of the northern portion of the plateau, rising in the Western Ghats and draining east towards the Bay of Bengal. The 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 Cauvery River, which rises in the Western Ghats of Karnataka and bends south to break through the Nilgiri hills into Tamil Nadu, emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
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. During a period lasting many hundred of years there was a lot of volcanic activity in the region. The molten lava that erupted out of the volcanoes solidified into a hard rocky layer. Layer after layer was formed by the volcanic activity that lasted many hundreds 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. 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, outside a volcano, while granite forms inside a volcano, that is, when the volcano becomes extinct the lava solidifies inside the volcano itself.
The Deccan is home to many languages and peoples. Marathi, an Indo-Aryan, is the dominant language of the northern plateau. Bhil and Gond peoples live in the hills along the northern and northeastern edges of the plateau. Telugu and Kannada, the predominant languages of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, respectively, are Dravidian languages, as is Tamil to the south. Hyderabad has many Urdu speakers.
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