KARNATAKA – Geographical Features

Karnataka state came in to being in 1956, when linguistic reorganization of states took place. Many predominantly Kannada speaking regions of Bombay Presidency, Madras Presidency and Hyderabad state ruled by b the Nizam were united with the princely state of Mysore. The tiny kingdom of Coorg became one of the districts of Karnataka.

The total area of Karnataka is 191791 Square kilometers. It is situated towards west of the Indian Deccan Plateau and it lies along the seashore of one side. It is a fertile land situated in the tropical region of the Northern Hemisphere, stretching between 115 degree and 19 degree Northern Latitude and between 74 degree and 78 degree Eastern Longitude. States of Maharashtra and Goa bound the State of Karnataka in the north, by Kerala and Tamilnadu in the south, by Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the East and by the Arabian Sea in the West. The soil of the State is varied what with red clay and laterite soil, red soil mixed with clay and sand, black soil or split. What different crops are grown here owing to these varieties, we cannot find in any other States of the Country. Out of the total area, the land utilized for agriculture amounts to 61.9%. The percentage of cultivated area in the State is higher compared to the whole country states.

Karnataka is rich in its mineral wealth which is distributed fairly evenly across the state. Rich deposits of asbestos, bauxite, chromite, dolomite, gold, iron ore, kaolin, limestone, magnesite, Manganese, ochre, quartz and silica sand are found in the state. Karnataka is a major producer of felsite, moulding sand (63%) and fuchsite quartzite (57%) in the country. Karnataka has two major centers of gold mining in the state at Kolar(Non functional now) and Hatti (Raichur). Karnataka has very rich deposits of high grade iron and manganese ores to the tune of 1,000 million tonnes. Most of the iron ores are concentrated around the Bellary-Hospet region. Karnataka with a granite rock spread of over 4200 km˛ is also famous for its Ornamental Granites with different hues.


Karnataka is divided in to three regions on the basis of topography and climate. They are the coastal region (karAvaLi), hilly region, (malenADu) and the plains (bayalu sIme). The coast line stretches for a distance of about 240 kilometers along the Arabian Sea. The region is about 30-40 kilometers broad and it is extant between the sea and the Western Ghats. It receives copious rains between May and September from South West monsoon.

SharAvati and kALi are the important rivers that originate in the Western Ghats and move westwards towards the Arabian Sea. Both these rivers have generated hydro electric power. nEtrAvati and sItA are two more rivers that traverse a similar course. Paddy, coconut and cashew are the major agricultural products of this region. Some regions of North Canara harbour dense forests.

Malnad region is formed by the Sahyadri mountain range of Western Ghats. It is distributed in the districts of Shivamogga, HAssan, cikkamagaLur and Coorg. It runs for a distance of about 400 kilometers from north to south and has an average height of about 900 ft. M.S.L. However certain peaks in this region are much higher. They are kuduremuKa (1900 M.), bAbAbuDan giri, (1975 M.) and muLLayyanagiri (1975M.) The ghats are rather steep in their western extremities and taper down towards the east. Most of the important rivers of South India originate in the Western Ghats and move east towards the Bay of Bengal. KriSnA, kAvEri, tungaBadrA and hEmAvati are the ones that run for a long distance in Karnataka.

The malnAD and GAT sections are totally covered by dense forests. It ranges from a breadth of only 2 kilometers near sakalEshapura to almost 100 kilometers at other places. It receives rains ranging between 500 cm-750 cm between June and September during the monsoon season. A small town in shivamogga district called Agumbe receives the maximum rain fall of 760 cm in Karnataka. Paddy, sugar cane, arcanut, coconut and spices are major agricultural crops of this region. Parts of malnAD and Coorg districts have coffee plantations.

Plains (bayalusIme) constitute the major part of Karnataka and they are distributed in a number of districts including the malnAD region. The rain fall dwindles as we move from the west to east and many regions in the north and east hardly receive 50 cms of annual rain. However a number of dams built across the major rivers and the ponds and tanks spread all over the region constitute alternative sources of water. KriSNA, kAvEri, BImA, tungabadrA, GaTapraBA, malapraBA, hEmAvati and kabini are some rivers that re used for irrigational purposes.

The plains are dotted by a range of hills called rAmanagar-rAyadurga central range. They run for a distance of about 400 kilometers from sAvanadurga in the South to moLakAlmUru in the North. SAvanadurga, shivagangA, dEvarAyanadurga, pAvagaDa, madhugiri and brahmagiri are some of the peaks in this range.

The plains have scope for vast and varied agricultural activity depending on the water resources. Paddy, sugar cane, jowar, millet, cotton, tobaco, groundnuts, coconuts and fruits are the major agricultural crops. This region is dotted by a number of towns and villages and is well connected by railways and motor ways.


Further Readings and Links:

1.      Geography of Karnataka (From Wikipedia)

2.      Geography of Karnataka (From Maps of India )


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