To the south the province is shut in by the wide mountainous tract which stretches from the Bay of Bengal through Bastar to the Godavari, and west of that river is continued onward to the rocky ridges and plateaus of Khandesh by a succession of ranges that enclose the plain of Berar along its southern border.
The bay receives many large rivers, of which the most important are the Ganges and Brahmaputra on the north, the Irrawaddy on the east, and the Mahanadi, Godavari, Kistna and Cauvery on the west.
The surface of this table-land slopes from west to east, as indicated by the direction of the drainage of the country, - the great rivers, the Cauvery, Godavari, Kistna and Pennar, though deriving their sources from the base of the Western Ghats, all finding their way into the Bay of Bengal through fissures in the Eastern Ghats.
In the Madras presidency and in Mysore irrigation has long assumed a great importance, and the engineering works of the three great deltas of the Godavari, Kistna and Cauvery, the outcome of the genius and indefatigable enthusiasm of Sir Arthur Cotton, have always been quoted as showing what a boon irrigation is to a country.
In this way the three great rivers of the Madras Presidency, viz., the Godavari, the Kistna and the Cauvery, rise in the mountains overhanging the western coast, and traverse the whole breadth of the central table-land before they reach the sea on the eastern shores of India.