The Vindhyachal or Vindhya Range is a complex system of discontinuous mountain ridges, islands, plateau escarpments and hill ranges in west-central India. The Vindhyachal is geologically not a continuous mountain range but a series of individual ranges that extend over a vast area. The name “Vindhya” is principally used to refer to the escarpment that runs parallel to the Narmada River and the adjacent hills. The mountains are of great significance to Indian mythologies as it was mentioned as the southern boundary of the Indo-Aryan peoples. Today, the mountains represent the traditional border between south and north India.
The Extent of the Vindhya Range
The word "Vindhya" was historically used to refer to the mountains and hills between the Deccan Plateau and the Indo-Gangetic plains. Some ancient texts extended the mountain range to include the Ganges and the Godavari but modern geographers restrict the Vindhyas to the escarpments in Central India and the highlands and hills north of the Narmada River. The western edge of the mountain range lies in the state of Gujarat close to the border with Rajasthan while the eastern edge rests on the Gujarat peninsula. The primary section of the Vindhya Range lies on the south escarpment of the Central Indian uplands. The eastern section consists of several mountains and hills.
Elevation of the Vindhya Range
The average elevation of the mountains varies depending on the extent of the range. The average height is between 980 and 2,140 feet. The range rarely rises past 2,300 ft. Sad-bhawna Shikhar is the highest peak with an elevation of 2,467 feet. The Amarkantak Mountain (3,438 ft) was historically included as part of the Vindhya Range, but modern geographers categorize the mountain as part of the Maikal Range. The northern section range is drained by several rivers and tributaries including the Tamsa, Parbati, Dhasan, Betwa, Chambal, Kali Sindh, and Ken, while the Son and Narmada Rivers drain the southern section.
Cultural Significance of the Vindhya Range
The Vindhya Range is the traditional boundary between south and north India. The mountain range historically demarcated the territory of the Indo-Aryans from the others. Although the mountains are not very high, Indian mythologies described them as dangerous an inaccessible due to hostile tribes and dense vegetation. The mountains were said to be infested with demons and cannibals. The Himalayas and the Vindhyas are both mentioned in the national anthem of India.