Physiography of Karnataka


Karnataka is situated on the western edge of the Deccan Peninsular region of India. It is located approximately between 11.5° North and 18.5° North latitudes and 74° East and 78.5° East longitudes.

Physiographically Karnataka State forms two well-designed macro regions of Indian union, they are: The Deccan plateau and the coastal plains or lowlands and Islands

On the basis of geographical structure and relief features the state can be divided into three major physiographic regions:

  1. The Coastal Region
  2. The Malnad Region
  3. The Maidan Region.

These broad natural divisions naturally unfolded themselves, although several studies further divided

Physiographic Divisions of Karnataka

The Coastal Region:

It is a narrow strip of land about 400 Km length situated between the Western Ghats and Arabian Sea. It lies between 11.4° to 14. 21°North latitudes. It stretches from Karwar town in the North to a little beyond Mangalore city in the South varies between 25 and 65 Kilometers. Its unity lies in its openness to maritime influence. It is a plain of low relief built up of sands alluvium and lateritic materials. It is transitional in character, because it lies between the submerging Bombay coast (Konkana coast) in the North and Emergent Kerala (Malbar) coast in the South consequently. There are no large deltas along the coast probably due to most active South West Monsoon.  the coastal belt is divided  into three longitudinal and parallels belts. They are

Coastal  Plain :- It is a low plain of river deposition

Coastal low plateau:-. It is the product of marine denudation and so can bedescribed as “Marine Platform”.

Coastal Malnad: – The rest of the dissected hill with more forested and less· cleared for field of Agriculture area

Malnad Region: –

it is the mainly forested hilly area lying east of the Ghats edge and west of Maidan boundary. It is also known as ‘Sahyadris’. It extends continuous belt through the state, from Northwest to South east, almost close to the Arabian Sea, finally culminating or joining in the mighty Nilgiris. There are many peaks in the Western Ghats. These were formed by the erosional action of rivers on the flat topped residual plateau.

The most important peaks are Mullayyanagiri (1913m) in Bababudangiri hills which is the highest peak of the state. Kalhatgiri (1893m), Kuduremukh (1872m) Devirammanagudda(1817m) Rudragiri (1715m), Meruti (1641m) Ballalarayanadurga (1500m) Varahaparvata (1434m) Kodachadri (1323m), Puspagiri or Subramanya (1731m) Brahmagiri, Mertigudda (1677m) etc. Charmudighat, Agumbeghat and Kollurghat in the Western Ghats provide communication between the coastal plain and the Malnad region.

The Malnad with its high elevations, steep slopes, rugged relief and heavy rainfall is a  potential source of hydro-electric power. The world famous Jog falls is and well known Shivanasamudram falls situated here. It is a source of many useful rivers. Its dark forest covers a continuous source of fuel timber and other. The slope of the Western Ghats contains coffee and tea plantations. Its delightful natural beauty spots provide excellent centers for tourists. It has deep gorges and valleys lofty ranges and evergreen forest.

Semi-malnad: – It is a long Narrow zone situated between Malnad and Maidan and running north to south for the whole length of the State.

The Maidan Region: –

The Maidan which is a flat and rolling open area situated in the east of the semimalnad. Its monotonous landscape and unvaried relief represents a senile topography. The Maidan gently slop is towards the east and its height increases from North to South like Bidar to Chamarajanagara. The studies divide the Maidan in to two regions. They are:

Northern Maidan Region and Southern Maidan region.

The Northern Maidan Region: -It is also termed as “lower erosion surface” and the height varies from 1200 to 1500 m. It is the land North of the Tungabadra river and to the east of the Western Ghats. It is a Monotonous, seemingly endless plateau, covered with rich block cotton soils and large open treeless fields. Major part of this region is occupied by the Krishna river Basin. This is highly eroded and dissected by the Bhima, Don, Krishna, Tungabhadra rivers. A low extension of Mahadevo range ending at Bijapur, forms the watershed between the Bhima and the Krishna rivers.

In some of the Limestone areas faulting has resulted in giving rugged appearance to the landform of the east of Sauvdatti and Badami. The most important water falls of the region Gokak falls in Belgaum. Chayabhagavati and soyala water falls. It is known for severe drought in the state. Districts like Bidar, Bijapur, Gulbarga, Yadgiri, Raichur, Koppal and Gadag are known for frequent severe droughts, larger portion of the region is still under rain fed conditions

The Southern Maidan Region: – Which is also called as “higher erosion surface”, is relatively higher in elevation and more rugged in relief than the Northern Maidan. It is also termed as the “Mysore Plateau, It extends from the Tungabhadra River in the North to Mayor Trench in the South of Chamarajanagara. It slopes towards the east, the average height varies from 1600 to 1200 Meters.

Its hard crystalline rocks have greatly resisted erosion. It is drained by the Cauvery, Pennar and Ponnaiyer river systems. It has many enselbargs and flat topped hills like Chitradurga hill, Madhugiri hill and Nandhidurga hill. Shrirangapattana and Shimsha are the two important riverine islands of this region formed by the Cauvery River. It is a rain shadow region, rainfall is not only scanty but also the amount of rainfall decreases and the variability increases from west to east. Red and red sandy soils are predominated which are not highly fertile.

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