Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/32

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28 THE COUNTRY. covers the southern half of the peninsula. This tract, known in ancient times as The Deccan, or ' The South ' (dakshin), com- prises the Central Provinces, Berar, Madras, and Bombay, and the native territories of the Nizam, Mysore, Sindhia, Holkar, and other feudatory princes. It slopes upwards from the southern edge of the Gangetic plains. Two sacred mountains stand as outposts on the extreme east and west, with confused ranges stretching eight hundred miles between. At the western extremity, Mount Abu, famous for its exquisite Jain temples, rises 5650 feet from the Rajputana plains, like an island out of the sea. The Aravalli chain, the Vindhya mountains, the Satpura and Kaimur ranges, with other highland tracts, run across the country eastwards until they abut on the Ganges valley, under the name of the Rajmahal hills. On the eastern edge of the central mountainous region, Mount Parasnath, also sacred to Jain rites, towers 4400 feet above the level of the Gangetic plains. Scenery of the Southern Tableland. — These various ranges form, as it were, the northern wall and buttresses on which rests the central tableland of India. Now pierced by road and rail, they stood in former times as a barrier of mountain and jungle between Northern and Southern India, and greatly increased the difficulty of welding the whole into one empire. The three-cornered tableland forms a vast mass ot forests, ridges, and peaks, broken by cultivated valleys and high- lying plains. Its eastern and western sides are known as the GMts, a word applied to a flight of steps up a river bank or to a mountain pass. The Eastern Gh&ts run in fragmentary spurs and ranges down the Madras side of India, sometimes receding inland, and leaving broad plains between them and the coast. The Western Ghdts form a great sea-wall for the Bombay Presi- dency, with only a narrow strip between them and the shore. At places they rise in magnificent precipices and headlands almost out of the ocean, and truly look like colossal ' landing- stairs ' from the sea. The Eastern and Western Ghals meet at an angle near Cape Comorin at the southern extremity of India, and so complete the three sides of the tableland. The inner plateau itself lies far below the snow line, and its ordinary