Physiography Of Maharashtra

Maharashtra State covers a large part of the Indian Peninsula. It lies between the latitude 220 1’ to 160 4’ N and longitude 720 6’ to 800 9’ E. It is about 800 km East- West and 700 km North-South surrounded by irregular boundary. It covers an area of 3,07690 sq. km. The state is bounded on the West by the Arabian Sea, making a long coast line of about 720 km, on the North–West it is bounded by Gujarat, on the North by Madhya Pradesh, on the South–East by Andhra Pradesh and on the South by Karnataka and Goa

A major part of Maharashtra is physically an undulating plateau. The Sahyadri range runs from North to South parallel to the Konkan coast. The Western edge forms the Sahyadri escarpment while the rest of plateau slopes gently towards the East and South-East. A large part of the land in Maharashtra is formed from ancient lava outflows which rests on Archean rock. From West to East in the region, the layer of basalt rocks gradually reduces resulting in unfolding of rocks of Archean, Vindhya and Dharwad tradition as well as limestone, in Nagpur, Bhandara and Chandrapur. The basalt layer gradually decreases Eastwards and finally disappears.

In Chandrapur and Nagpur Districts, a large amount of coal is found under the ancient Gondwan rocks. In the Sahyadris, towards the South of Mahabaleshwar as well as in South Konkan, the hill tops are covered with Jambha rocks in the form of shells. Layers of sediments are found in the river basin and on the banks of channels all over the state.

On the basis of geographical features the State is divided into 3 natural regions

  1. Konkan: Comprising the coastal area
  2. Western Ghats: Sahyadri hill ranges
  3. The Deccan plateau: The remaining area of Maharashtra state

Konkan or Coastal areas

The Coastal plain is known as the Konkan. The tapering belt from Bordi-Talsari in the North to Redi-Banda in the South forms Konkan coastline. The coastal areas are more rugged in the South than in the North and is characterized by an irregular hilly topography. Except for the hilly portion near the Sahyadri range, the altitude varies from almost 0 to l00 meter above mean sea level. The coastline spreads 700km in length from North to South and has a wavelike width of 50 to 100 km. Heavy rainfall and steep slopes cause severe soil erosion especially in deforested areas.

A number of small and rapidly flowing rivers and streams run from the Sahyadri ranges and join the Arabian sea. These short rivers originate in the Sahyadri mountain ranges or its edges. This area receives heavy rains with an annual average of 200 cm. The height of the Sahyadri ranges goes on decreasing towards the Konkan coastline and “Chaupati” or soft soil is developed along the coast. The Konkan coastline is narrower towards the South and wider towards the North and it is widest in the Ulhas River valley.

Sahyadri hill ranges or Western Ghats

This area is also known as the Western Ghats. It is spread from Navapur in Nandurbar District in the North to Chandgad in Kolhapur District in the South. The Western edge of the Deccan plateau runs parallel to the Western coast and rises to a great height forming a number of peaks like Mahabaleshwar (1646 meters above mean sea level). This barrier is responsible for the heavy rainfall in the coastal plains.

In Maharashtra, the length of the Sahyadri is 800km and the height is around 1200m. The Western slope of the range steep due to sinking of the Konkan coastline. Comparatively the Eastern slope of the Sahyadri is less steep. Parts of the range have patches of isolated plateaus at a high altitude which are formed of Basalt in the North and Laterite in the Southern section.

Deccan plateau

The Deccan plateau of Maharashtra lies to the East side of the Sahyadri range and is bounded by Satpura and Satmala ranges in the North, Sahyadri Ghats in the West and extends in the South-East direction across the State boundary. A number of large rivers namely the Godavari and Krishna drain this area and flow towards the south east or across this region. The river basins are hilly and narrow in the West and broad and flat in the East.

In between these rivers are hill ranges originating from the Sahyadri and traversing the plateau giving it a typical undulating topography. These ranges are:
a) Ajantha – Satmala range present between Tapi and Godavari rivers.
b) Harischandra hills located between Godavari and Bhīma rivers.
c) Mahadev hills between Bhīma and Krishna rivers.

Towards the northern borders of Maharashtra form a barrier to the Gangatic Plain. Astambha is the highest peak of the Satpura range in Maharashtra. Chikhaldara, a well-known hill station is present in the Satpura. Bairat is the highest place in the Satpura. The plateau region near the Sahyadris is 600m above the coastline and its height goes on decreasing towards the East.  The valley area is flat with long stretches of deep black alluvial soil to the East of the plateau.