The Vindhya Range runs east and west through the district. The northern part of the district lies on the Malwa plateau. The northwestern portion of the district lies in the watershed of the Mahi River and its tributaries, while the northeastern part of the district lies in the watershed of the Chambal River, which drains into the Ganges via the Yamuna River. The portion of the district south of the ridge of the Vindhyas lies in the watershed of the Narmada River, which forms the southern boundary of the district.
The district extends over three physiographic divisions. They are the Malwa in the north, the Vindhyachal range in central zone and the Narmada valley along the southern boundary. However, the valley is again closed up by the hills in the south-western part.
The northern half of the district lies on the Malwa plateau. It covers the northern parts of Dhar, Sardarpur and Badnawar tahsils. The average elevation of the plateau is 500 metres above the mean sea level. The land is undulation with a few scattered flat topped hills roughly aligned between the valleys from south to north. The general slope is towards the north. The valleys are covered with black cotton soil of varying thickness, mostly adapted for cultivation. The mounds may bear gravels or the underlaying sandstone rocks may have been exposed. The plateau covers an area of about 466,196 hectares in the district.
A part of the range extends in the district in a crescentic belt generally from south-east to north-west. The range is represented by a strip of hilly area 5 to 20 kilometres in width. It is about 5 km wide near village Dhani near the south-eastern boundary. Near Mograbav in the centre, it is about 10 km further widening to 20 km west of Tanda. To the west of Bagh and Kukshi the range stands disconnected by the valleys of the Mahi and Hatni.
It restarts along the Narmada in the south-west. The northern spur (peak 543.76 metres) froms the boundary between the Sardarpur tahsil and Jhabua district. It extends from the peak of Gomanpur a (556.26 metres) to Bajrangarh in Jhabua. Another spur extends to wards Jhabua in the north-west. The great Vindhyachal range extends generally from west to east and scarps at most of its length towards the south. In Dhar also the south-ward escarps are well marked, the wall rising from 400 to 600 metres. However, in the western part their faces have been eroded back into long and deep rugged valleys of the tributary hills of the Narmada. In fact the strong currents of the small streams on the steep southern side have cut back at their heads. The numerous streams of the Narmada valley find their sources on the Malwa plateau. The main line of the highest peaks has been left to the south of their present courses.
In the eastern and central parts of the Vindhyachal in Dhar the main hill range is continuous but in the west it is dissected by deep channels of the rivulets. The range slopes towards the north and gradually meets the Malwa plateau. Numerous spurs also extend over the Malwa plateau in the north. But in the western half in the district one may also find a series of denuded ridges alternating with the parallel stream-channels and running for some kilometres from local confusion, unless one tries to trace the line of the main peaks.
The hightest peak of the district, Mograba (751.03 metres) lies in the central part. Nilkanth (702.26 metres) lies further east and the Shikarpura hill rises up to 698.91 metres. The famous historical fort of Mandugarh towers the flat-topped hill about 600 metres, from the mean sea level.
Below the Vindhyachal scarps lies the narrow valley of the Narmada. It occupies the sourthern part of the district in Manawar tahsil and the south-eastern part of Kukshi tahsil. The width of the valley is 15 to 30 kilometres. The elavation varies from 275 metres in the northern part of Manawar tahsil to 150 metres in the low plain of Nisarpur in the south-west. To the east between Khalghat and Bakaner the valley is undulation wider, more open and fertile with alluvial cover. Proceeding westwards the valley is studded with hills alternatively cut up by numerous streams which join the Narmada along the southern boundary of the district. The result is that there are few stretches and pockets of alluvium along the streams.