Physical Setting

Lying between 23° 10' and 26° 27' (north) latitude and 78°4' and 81°34' (east) longitude Bundelkhand is bound in the north by the Yamuna River and in the south by the Vindhyan hills. It presents a unique set of geological and geographical characteristics, which have a profound effect on human development in the region. Beautiful mountains, perennial rivers, fast flowing seasonal rivulets, a large forest area with traditional timber, tendu, herbal plants and rich fertile alluvial plains are nature’s gifts to the region.

Bundelkhand comprises seven districts of Uttar Pradesh (Banda, Chitrakoot, Hamirpur and Mahoba in Chitrakoot division; and Jalaun, Jhansi and Lalitpur in Jhansi division) and six districts of Madhya Pradesh (Chhatarpur, Damoh, Panna, Sagar and Tikamgarh in Sagar division; and Datia in Gwalior division).

Geology and Topography

Granites of varying types from the Lower Pre Cambrian/Archaen period are the predominant geological materials found across the region. Alluvial deposits of clay, silt and sand of sub-aerial and fluviatile origin are the most recent geological deposits in Bundelkhand and are more predominant near the Yamuna River and its tributaries.

The topography is generally undulating with rocky outcrops and boulder-strewn plains that give the landscape a rugged look. Spectacular ravines in the north and deep gorges in the south are the result of the active erosion of the unconsolidated alluvial material deposited by the major streams in the region, namely the Betwa, Dhasan and the Ken. These ravines and gorges are uncultivable and pose an increasing threat to nearby farmland as they continue to expand.

Climate

Bundelkhand generally experiences a semi-arid climate, though this is highly variable depending on the region and the time of year. Indeed, the area is notorious for experiencing droughts or drought-like conditions in summer and disastrous floods during the monsoon.

As with the rest of the Indian sub-continent, Bundelkhand experiences two main seasons: monsoon and dry. The monsoon brings over 90 per cent of the annual rainfall between the months of June to September, with the highest precipitation occurring in July and August. On average, the region receives 75 cm to 125 cm of rain each year. The dry plains in the north usually receive less rain compared to the south-eastern part of the region.

Drainage

Major drainage of the Bundelkhand region is through its numerous perennial rivers and their tributary rivulets and seasonal nullahs, which carry all the water including rainwater to the Yamuna River in the north. The main slope of the entire region is towards north and north-east. The main tributaries of the Yamuna are the Betwa, Ken, Baghain, Pahuj and Dhasan, most of which are important sources of irrigation water.

The flow in most of the water sources varies considerably according to the season. The monsoon brings heavy floods and the highest flows in all the rivers and tributaries. During the dry season, nullahs often become dry and the flow in the major rivers dwindles. As a consequence, irrigation becomes difficult and greater stress is placed on groundwater resources.

The main water sources in the region are perennial rivers and rivulets, the numerous lakes formed through embanking the lower side of the valley, and the traditional ponds in almost every village.

Vegetation

Bundelkhand was extremely rich in terms of forest resources even up to the last century when about one-third to half the area was covered by dense forests of useful timber trees, fruits and medicinal plants. Like other parts of the country, forests here were the common property resources and were generated and protected by the people. In the 19th century, the state took over the common property resources. At present the forest area in the Bundelkhand region of UP is only about seven per cent and actual forest cover would be less than 50 per cent of the forest area.

Soil

The soils in the region have developed from Vindhyan rocks abounding in gneiss and granites of the Deccan trap with highly ferruginous beds and often lime stones. The soils broadly can be divided into two main groups: red and black. The four recognised soil associations in the region are:

Sl. Soil Association Local Name
1. Bundelkhand-coarse grained-reddish brown soil Rakar
2. Bundelkhand-coarse grained-gray to grayish brown soil Parua
3. Bundelkhand-clay loom black soil Kabar
4. Bundelkhand-fine clayey black soil Mar

The Rakar soils are residual, slightly acidic, coarse, grained, shallow and excessively permeable. The Parua soils are alluvial and mildly alkaline. The black soils Mar and Kabar are very deep and confined to low lying landscapes, fine texture and property of shrinking and swelling on drying and wetting.

Red soils are more predominant in the north-western region and are usually gravely and shallow with consequently poor moisture retention. The characteristics of these soils also make them vulnerable to over-irrigation. Conversely, black soils, which are found mostly in the south, are more water retentive and are therefore preferred for wheat, gram and sugarcane cultivation.

Environmental Concerns

Human development and environment are closely linked in the semi-arid Bundelkhand region, which suffers from acute ecological degradation. Logging and mining activities over the past several centuries have denuded the area and facilitated the erosion of the fragile soils. Expanding ravine lands, especially in the northern area, are already threatening local farmland and can have serious consequences on the socio-economic situation.

Erratic rainfall has often led to either drought or flood conditions with consequent effects on the natural and human environment. Deterioration of traditional water resources and indifferent approach towards the optimum utilisation of the surface water increases dependence on ground water and that has led to lowering of the groundwater table. The decline in groundwater levels has further undermined water security in the region.

Erosion from marginal lands and agricultural fields has increased the sediment load in the rivers and are adversely affecting the life span of check dams and other water harvesting structures.

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Bundelkhand Info

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