Konkan, coastal plain of western India, lying between the Arabian Sea (west) and the Western Ghats (east), the Konkan includes the regions of Thane, Greater Mumbai, Raigad, and Ratnagiri.
Dabhol beach, on the coast of the Konkan, western India.
The region is traversed by seasonal rivers that drain the heavy monsoonal rainfall from the crest of the Sahyadri Hills. The generally uneven terrain is composed of eroded remnant ranges of the Ghats that form low lateritic plateaus in the west and terminate in a coastline of alternating bays and headlands. Only about one-third of the land is cultivable, and the population lives mainly in the relatively fertile river valleys near the coast and in the newly developed industrial belts around Mumbai, Thane, Khopali, and Panvel. The barren hills are occupied by the pastoral Bhil, Kathkari, and Kokana peoples. The main crops are rice, pulses (legumes), vegetables, fruits, and coconuts; fishing and salt manufacture are also important.
The industrial complex of Greater Mumbai is the primary economic focus of the region. Nearly all trade is carried on with Mumbai, and steady migration to the city has left rural Konkan depleted of manpower and skilled workers. Iron and manganese are mined and exported through the port of Reddi.
The ports of the Konkan were known to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians and to Arab traders. The spice trade brought prosperity to the ancient Hindu kingdoms of the area. The cave temples of Elephanta Island and Kanheri bear testimony to the prosperous culture of this era. With the advent of the Portuguese and British, the port cities were further developed and fortified but now have lost their former importance.