Geography of Karnataka

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Topographic map of Karnataka. Western Ghats are parallel to the coast.

The Indian State of Karnataka is located 11°30' North and 18°30' North latitudes and 74° East and 78°30' East longitude.It is situated on a tableland where the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats converge into the complex, in the western part of the Deccan Peninsular region of India. The State is bounded by Maharashtra and Goa States in the north and northwest; by the Arabian Sea in the west; by Kerala in the south-west and Tamil Nadu in the south and south-east, Andhra Pradesh in the south-east and east and Telangana in the north-east. Karnataka extends to about 750 km from north to south and about 400 km from east to west.

Karnataka is situated in the Deccan Plateau and is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Goa to the northwest, Maharashtra to the north, Andhra Pradesh to the southeast and east, Telangana to the east, Tamil Nadu to the south and southeast, and Kerala to the southwest. It is situated at the angle where the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats of South India converge into the Nilgiri hills. The highest point in Karnataka is the Mullayanagiri hill in Chikkamagaluru district which has an altitude of 1,929 metres (6,329 ft) above sea level.[1]

Landforms of Karnataka[edit]

The state has three principal physical zones;[2]

  • The coastal strip, called Karavali and Tulu Nadu, between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, which is lowland, with moderate to high rainfall levels. This strip is around 320 km in length and 48–64 km wide.
  • The Western Ghats, called Malenadu, a mountain range islands from the Arabian Sea, rising to about 900m average height, and with moderate to high rainfall levels.
  • The Deccan Plateau, called Bayalu Seeme, comprising the main inland region of the state, which is drier and verging on the semi-arid. The humidity in these plains never exceeds 50%.

Karnataka has one of the highest average elevations of Indian states at 1,500 feet. The highest recorded temperature was 45.6 °C (114.08 °F) at Raichuru on 23 May 1928. The lowest recorded temperature was 2.8 °C (37.04 °F) at Bidar on 16 December 1918.[3]

Area and population[edit]

Karnataka has a total land area of 191,791 km² and accounts for 5.83% of the total area of the country (measured at 3,288,000 km²). This puts it in seventh place in terms of size. With a population of 6,11,30,704, it occupies eighth place in terms of population. The population density which stands at 319 persons per km² is lower than the all-India average of 382.

Mineral resource[edit]

Karnataka is rich in its mineral wealth which is distributed fairly evenly across the state. Karnataka's Geological Survey department started in 1880 is one of the oldest in the country. 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 also 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 and Raichuru. These mines produce about 3000  kg of gold per annum which accounts for almost 84% of the country's production. 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 Ballari-Hosapete region. Karnataka with a granite rock spread of over 4200  km² is also famous for its Ornamental Granites with different hues.


According to Radhakrishnan and Vaidyanadhan (1997), there are four main types of geological formations in Karnataka:[4]

Soil types[edit]

Eleven groups of soil orders are found in Karnataka. Entisols, Inceptisols, Mollisols, Spodosols, Alfisols, Ultisols, Oxisols, Aridisols, Vertisols, Andisols and Histosols.[4] Depending on the agricultural capability of the soil, the soil types are divided into six types., Red, lateritic (lateritic soil is found in bidar and kolar district), black, alluvio-colluvial, forest and coastal soils.[5] The common types of soil groups found in Karnataka are:[5]

  • Red soils: Red gravelly loam soil, Red loam soil, Red gravelly clay soil, Red clay soil
  • Black soil: gravelly soil, loose, black soil , basalt deposits
  • Lateritic soils: Lateritic gravelly soil, Lateritic soil
  • Black soils: Deep black soil, Medium deep black soil, Shallow black soil
  • Alluvio-Colluvial Soils: Non-saline, saline and sodic
  • Forest soil: Brown forest soil
  • Coastal soil: Coastal laterite soil, Coastal alluvial soil

Water Resources[edit]

With a surface water potential of about 102 kilometers, Karnataka accounts for about six percent of the country's surface water resources. Around 60% of this is provided by the west flowing rivers while the remaining comes from the east flowing rivers. There are seven river basins in all formed by the Godavari, Kaveri, Krishna, the west-flowing rivers, Penna, Ponniyar, and Palar.[6]

Waterfalls in Karnataka[edit]

East flowing rivers[edit]

30 East-flowing rivers.

West flowing rivers[edit]

12 West-flowing rivers, providing 60% of state's inland water resources.




Karnataka has the following four seasons in the year:

  • The winter season from January to February
  • The summer season from March to May
  • The monsoon season from June to September
  • The post-monsoon season from October to December.

The post-monsoon (period of retreating) and winter seasons are generally pleasant over the entire state. The months April and May are hot, very dry and generally uncomfortable. Weather tends to be oppressive during June due to high humidity and temperature. The next three months (July, August and September) are somewhat comfortable due to reduced day temperature although the humidity continue to be very high. The highest recorded temperature was 45.6 °C (114 °F) at Raichuru on 23 May 1928. The lowest recorded temperature was 2.8 °C (37 °F) C at Bidar on 16 December 1918.[7]

Karnataka is divided into three meteorological zones:


The southwest monsoon accounts for almost 80% of the rainfall that the state receives. The annual rainfall across the state ranges from low 50 cm to copious 350 cm. The districts of Vijapura, Raichuru, Ballari, Yadagiri and Southern half of Kalaburagi experience the lowest rainfall ranging from 50 to 60 cm while the west coastal region and Malenadu enjoy the highest rainfall.

The following were the top 5 places that peaked in rainfall statistics [2010-2017] [10][11][12][13]

Rank Hobli/Village District Taluk Year Rainfall in mm Elevation in metres
1 Amagavi Belagavi district Khanapura 2010 10,068 785
2 Mundrote Kodagu district Madikeri 2011 9,974 585
3 Hulikal Shivamogga district Hosanagara 2013 9,383 614
4 Agumbe Shivamogga district Thirthahalli 2013 8,770 643
5 Kokalli/Kakalli Uttara Kannada district Sirsi 2014 8,746 780


About 38724 km² (or 20% of Karnataka's geographic) are covered by forests. The forests are classified as reserved (28,611 km²) protected (3,932 km²), unclosed (5,748 km²), village (124 km²) and private (309 km²) forests. The percentage of forests area to Geographical area in the State is less than the all-India average of about 23%, and 33% prescribed in the National Forest Policy. The area under protected forests in the neighboring States is as follows: Andhra Pradesh 62,000 km² (9% of the total area of the country), Maharashtra 54,000 km² (8%), Tamil Nadu 22,000 km² (3%) and Kerala 11,000 km² (2%).

Karnataka is known for its valuable timbers from the evergreen forests in the Western Ghat region, notably Teak and Rosewood, the richly ornate panels of which adorn the beautiful chambers of the Two Houses of Karnataka Legislature.


  1. ^ Bala Chauhan. "The coffee-flavoured hills beckon". Online Webpage of the Deccan Herald, dated 2006-01-22. © 2005, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  2. ^ "Environment Database - Fish". Online Webpage of the Department of Ecology and Environment. Government of Karnataka. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  3. ^ "Karnataka Temperatures". Website. Retrieved 20 July 2005.
  4. ^ a b Detailed description of the geology of Karnataka is provided byRamachandra TV and Kamakshi G. "Bioresource Potential of Karnataka" (PDF). Technical Report No. 109, November 2005. Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Retrieved 5 May 2007.
  5. ^ a b National Informatics Centre. "Traditional Soil Groups of Karnataka and their Geographic Distribution". Official Website of the Department of Agriculture, Govt. of Karnataka. Govt. of Karnataka. Archived from the original on 6 May 2007. Retrieved 25 March 2007.
  6. ^ "River Systems of Karnataka".
  7. ^ "Karnataka Temperatures". Website. Retrieved 20 July 2005.
  8. ^ a b c Average Rainfall of the zones in Karnataka are mentioned by "Rainfall in different sub-divisions of the country during 1-1-2003 to 31-12-2003" (PDF). Online Webpage of Central Water Commission. Government of India. Retrieved 5 May 2007.
  9. ^ Pushpa Narayan (20 October 2005). "October's rain highest in 49 yrs". Online Webpage of the Times of India, dated 2005-10-20. © 2007 Times Internet Limited. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  10. ^ "Rainfall Statistics for Kokalli (Ajjimane)" (PDF). DES Karnataka.
  11. ^ "Rainfall Statistics for Amagavi" (PDF). DES Karnataka.
  12. ^ "Rainfall Statistics for Mundrote" (PDF). DES Karnataka.
  13. ^ "Rainfall Statistics for Agumbe and Hulikal" (PDF). DES karnataka.

Further reading[edit]