HINDUSTAN is a term which the people of Europe apply to British India generally. To the people of India, however, and to Europeans resid ing there, the name is restricted to that part of the country which lies between the Himalaya and the Vindhya mountains, and from the Panjab in the N.W. to Bengal in the S.E. This was the Aryavartha or Aryan country of the Sanskrit writers, who also called it Punya bhumi, or the Sacred Land. Jutting to the south of this portion is a triangular promontory or peninsula, known to the Hindus as the Dekhan (Deccan), meaning the south ; and these two portions form the region which is briefly to be not-iced here.
Rivers and Mountains.—The northern portion is watered by the Ganges and the Indus and their tributaries, and it is known as the Indo-Gangetic plain. It is an immense extent of flat country, stretching from sea to sea, is entirely composed of alluvial deposits of very late geological age, and it separates the hilly ground of the Peninsula from the mountain ranges of Sind, thePan jab, the Hima laya, Assam, and Burma. Several of the southern rivers are large,—the Nerbadda, Tapti, Mahanadi, Godavery, Kistna, and Cauvery ; but none of them equals in importance the Ganges, or the Indus, or the Brahmaputra, which, with the Irawadi of Further India, are the only rivers navigated by steam flotillas, though the Godavery has boats trafficking on it. The marine lagoons, on the east and west coasts, connected by canals, are available for inland navigation, and most of the rivers and their affluents are utilized for irrigation. The east coast of the Peninsula is washed by the Bay of Bengal, and its west coast by the Arabian Sea ; but the great Indo-Gangetic plain is mountain girt. To the west are the Khirtari, the Suliman, and the maze of mountains separating India from Afghanistan; to the south are the Vindhya ; and on all the north Hindustan proper is bounded by the stupendous Himalayas.
The Aravalli bills are connected by lower ranges with the western extremity of the Vindhya mountains, on the borders of Gujerat, and stretch northwards to a considerable distance beyond Ajmir, in the direction of Dehli, forming the division between the desert on the west and the central table-laud. It would be more correct to say the level of the desert, for the south-eastern portion, including Jodhpur, is a fertile country.
Amarkantak, a great plateau, forms the water shed of the Mahanadi, Son, Tons, Johilla, and Nerbadda. These rivers, though large and full of water even half-way from their mouths, are very irregular in the slopes of their beds, and are disturbed by frequent rapids, so that, owing to these impediments, increased still further by the rocky character of the river beds or their banks, navigation is limited for the most part to the lower portions of their course.
Central India is a table-land of unequal surface, from 1500 to 2500 feet above the sea, bounded by the Aravalli mountains on the west, and those of the \Indhya on the south, supported on the east by a lower range in Bundelkhand, and sloping gradually on the north-east into the basin of the Ganges. It is a diversified but fertile tract. The plateau is known as the Patar, and many parts are covered with jungle. The Aravalli hills have afforded protection to the most ancient sovereign race in the east or west,—the ancient stook of the Suryavausa, the Heliadne of India, or children of the sun, the princes of Mewar, who, when:pressed, were wont to retire to its fastnesses, only to issue again when occasion offered.
The l'indllya mountains north of the Nerbadda river, and the Satpura range south of that river, run east and west, and separate Hindustan proper from the Dekhan.
In that peninsular Dekhan or southern portion are two mountain ranges, known as the Eastern and Western Ghats. These ghats run in wavy lines southwards towards Cape Comorin, approaching and receding from the coast, and leaving, be tween them and the sea, low, alluvial, fertile tracts from 50 to 100 miles broad. The region enclosed within the ghats has several extensive plateaus, rising 1200 to 3000 feet above the sea, as in the Ceded Districts, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, and Mysore; and in the more southern parts are spurs rising higher, with particular names. For in stance, to the north of Coimbatore the chain rises abruptly to 8000 feet, as the Neilgkerry range, and continues northward as the mountains of Coorg. The rainfall, which is great on the western coast, is less on the Neilgherries, being 82 inches at Dodabetta, and 48 inches at Ootacamund. Farther north, in the Nagar district of Mysore, where are many rounded or table-topped hills 4500 feet high, often cultivated to that height, and rising in some places to upwards of 6000 feet, the climate of the western part is very humid, and particularly so at the town of Nagar or Bednur, 4000 feet high, on a spur of the western chain, where in clement rain is said to last for months.