Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/33

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THE SOUTHERN TABLELAND. 29 elevation seldom exceeds 2000 to 3000 feet. Its best-known hills are the Nflgiris (Blue Mountains), which contain the summer capital of Madras, Utakamand, 7000 feet above the sea. The highest point is Dodabetta peak, 8760 feet, at the southern extremity of Mysore. Rivers of the Southern Tableland. — This inner region of highlands sends its waters chiefly to the eastern coast. The drainage from the northern or Vindhyan edge of the three-sided tableland falls into the Ganges. The Narbada runs along the southern base of the Vindhyas, and carries their southern drain- age due west into the Gulf of Cambay. The Tapti flows almost parallel to the Narbada, a little to the southward, and bears to the Gulf of Cambay the waters from the Satpura hills. But from this point, as we proceed southwards, the Western Ghats rise into a high unbroken barrier between the Bombay coast and the waters of the inner tableland. The drainage has therefore to make its way right across India to the eastwards, now twisting round hill ranges, now rushing down the valleys between them, until the rain, which the Bombay sea-breeze dropped upon the Western Ghats, finally falls into the Bay of Bengal. In this way the three great rivers of the Madras Presidency — namely, the Godavari, the Krishna (Kistna), and the Kaveri — rise in the mountains overhanging the Bombay coast, and traverse the whole breadth of the central tableland before they reach the ocean on the eastern shores of India. Forests of the Southern Tableland. — The ancient Sanskrit poets speak of the southern tableland as buried under forests ; and sal, ebony, sissu, teak, and other great trees still abound. The Ghats, in particular, are covered with magnificent vegeta- tion wherever a sapling can take root. But tillage has now driven back the jungle to the hilly recesses ; and fields of wheat, and many kinds of smaller grain or millets, tobacco, cotton, sugar-cane, and pulses, spread over the open country. The black soil of Southern India is proverbial for its fertility ; and the lowlands between the Ghats and the sea rival even Lower Bengal in their fruit-bearing palms, rice harvests, and rich succes- sion of crops. The inner tableland is, however, very liable to droughts; and the people have devised a varied system of