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The Western Ghats are the mountain ranges and lies on the western side of Peninsular India. The Western Ghats are located parallel to the coast of the Arabian sea. 

The local name of Western Ghats: 

  • Sahyadri, Sahyadri Hills ( Maharashtra)
  • Sahya Parvatham (Kerala)
  • Nilgiri Malai (Tamilnadu)

Characteristics of Western Ghats:

  • The Western Ghats are fault scarp which is the crest of the western edging the Deccan plateau. It is also known as "The great escarpment of India".
  • The Western Ghats are made up of basalt (main), laterite, and limestone rocks during the age of the Cenozoic Era.
  • These mountain ranges are older than the Himalayas mountains.
  • The Western Ghats are 1600 km long and 50 to 100 km wide. It covers 160000 square km area ( 6% areas of total geographical areas of India). These mountains are continuous except for narrow passages. 
  • The average elevation of the Western Ghats is 900-1600 meters. 
  • The Western Ghats is recognized as one of the world's eight hottest hotspots due to biological diversity.
  • The Western Ghats are the UNESCO world heritage site in India due to their biological and endemism.

Geography:

  • Six states (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamilnadu) come under the Western Ghats. It starts from south of the Tapi river in Gujarat to the Southern tip of India. Karnataka shares its highest portion of the Western Ghats.
  • The Western Ghats located between longitudinal:  77°04 E  and latitude: 10°10 ̍ N.
  • The western ghats are divided into several hill ranges such as the Sahyadris, Nilgiris, Anaimalai, and Cardamom hills.
  • The Anamudi in Kerala is the highest peak (8842 feet) in the Western Ghats and also the highest peak in Peninsular India.
  • The western side of the Western Ghats has a steeply and narrow slope but the eastern side has a gentle and wide slope. The height of the western ghats increases from the north to south direction.
  • The Tropical rain forests are mainly found in the Western Ghats and, Tropical moist forests and Montane forests are also found in these mountain ranges.
  • Many rivers originate from the Western Ghats and flow to the Bay of Bengal due general slope of Peninsular India from west to East. The Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, and Tungabhadra, etc. are the main rivers in the Western Ghats.
  • Very few rivers flow towards the Arabian sea from west to the east such as Periyar, Sharavati, and Mandori, etc.
  • The drainage system in western Ghat is known as " Water towers of Peninsular India". The Western Ghats rivers drain 40% of the water in India.
  • Dudhsagar, Jog, Meenmutty, Athirappilly, and Sathodi, etc are famous waterfalls in the Western Ghats.


  • The western slope of the Western Ghats receives more rain than the eastern slopes. Orographic type rainfall received by the Western Ghats. Karnataka receives maximum rainfall in western ghats after that Kerala and Maharashtra respectively.
  • Lower regions of the Western Ghat are Tropical and Temperate climates in the above 1500 M. 
  • Narrow coastal plains situated between the Western Ghats and the Arabian sea, divided into 3 parts (a) Konkan Plains: plains between Maharashtra and Goa (b) Kanara: plains between Goa and Karnataka (c) Malabar Plains: plains between Karnataka and Kerala.
  • These mountains are continuous except for narrow passages. e.g. Palghat gap and Thorghat gap.
  • The Western Ghats and eastern ghats meet at Nilgiri mountains in Tamilnadu.

Flora and Fauna in the western ghats:

The western ghats are famous for their biodiversity and endemism. These mountain ranges are one of eight hotspots in the world and have a 30 % population of plant and animal species in India.

(A) Flora:

  • Tropical Evergreen forests (mainly) and Subtropical Montane forests are found in the Western Ghats. Plant species of the Lauraceae family are mainly present in the evergreen forest of the western ghats.
Western Ghats in India
Evergreen forest

  • Wildflowers meadows, Shola forest, and Mystical swamps are unique to the western ghats.
  • 645 species of evergreen trees, 4000 species of flowering plants are found in the western ghats.
  • The silent valley in Kerala has only the last virgin tropical evergreen forest in India and is only 7% of the total forest in the western ghats.

(B) Fauna:

  • The western ghats have 120 species of mammals, 500 species of birds, and several species of amphibians, reptiles, and fishes.
  • The 30% population of Asian elephants and 17% of Bengal tigers are found in the western ghats.
  • 16 Western Ghats endemic bird species are present in these mountain ranges such as Grey-breasted laughing thrush, Nilgiri wood pigeon, Nilgiri flycatcher, and Malabar grey hornbill, etc.
  • Bengal tiger, Lion-tailed macaque, Indian elephants, Nilgiri Langur, Nilgiri Tahr and Malabar large spotted civet( Critical endangered) are endangered mammal species present in the western ghats.
Western Ghats in India
Lion-tailed macaque

  • 13 national parks and 2 biosphere reserves situated in the western ghats.

National Parks

State

Eravikulam National Park

Kerala

Grass Hill National Park

Tamilnad & Kerala

Karian Shola National Park

Karnataka

Silent Valley National Park

Kerala

Mukurthi National Park

Tamilnadu

Kudremukh National Park

Karnataka

Chandoli National Park

Maharashtra

Pambadum Shola National Park

Kerala

Anamudi Shola National Park

Kerala

Mathikettan Shola National Park

Kerala

Bandipur National Park

Kerala

Nagarhole National Park

Karnataka

Mudumalai National Park

Tamilnadu

 

Biosphere Reserve

State

Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve

Tamilnadu

Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve

Tamilnadu, Kerala

 

Important peaks in the Western Ghats:

Peaks

State

Heights

Anamudi

Kerala

8842 ft

Mannamala

Tamilnadu, Kerala

8724 ft

Meesapulimala

Kerala

8660 ft

Doddabetta

Tamilnadu

8652 ft

Kolaribetta

Tamilnadu

8625 ft

Mullayanagiri

Karnataka

6330 ft

Kalsubai

Maharashtra

5407 ft

Important Western Ghats passes:

  • Palghat: The mountain pass is also known as "Palakkad Gap". It connects Tamilnadu and Kerala states. The Palghat also connects Nilgiri hills to the north and the Anaimalai Hills to the south.
  • Thal Ghat: This mountain pass is also known as "Kasara Ghat" or " Thul Ghat" and situated in Maharashtra.
  • Amba Ghat: The mountain pass is situated in Maharashtra and connects the Ratnagiri district to Kolhapur. It is well known for paragliding sports.
  • Chorla Ghat: This mountain pass connects Karnataka, Goa, and Maharashtra. It is famous for the rare species of wolf snake.
  • Malshej Ghat: It is situated in Maharashtra.

Importance of western Ghats:

(A) Rainfall: The orographic rainfall occurs in the western ghats from the South-West monsoon during summer. This rainfall helps to make luxuriant forests and supply water to perennial rivers in these mountain ranges.
(B) Water sources: Many rivers originate from the western ghats and continue the supply of water to 50 million population with agricultural and industrial activities. Hydroelectricity generated from dams situated in rivers.
(C) Forests: Tropical evergreen forests are generally found in these mountain ranges. It provides timber wood, bamboo, and herbal medicine, etc. Teak and eucalyptus are grown in the plantation forests.
(D) Mining of Minerals: The western ghats are the mineral-rich regions in India. Many types of minerals such as Bauxite, Iron, Copper, etc are deposited in this region, and mining them provides a great opportunity for the economic growth of India. The central part of Western ghats is the main region of minerals especially Goa and Karnataka.
(E) Agriculture activities: Rice (Northern Sahyadris), Tea( Munnar &Udagamandalam), Coffee( Baba Budan hills), Spices( Kerala), and Coconuts(Coastal regions) are mainly grown in the western ghats.
(F) Tourist destination: The Western Ghats attracts tourists for its greeny, wildlife sanctuaries, tea gardens, and hill stations. Ooty(Karnataka), Satpura (Gujarat), Mahabaleshwar (Maharashtra), Kodaikanal (Tamilnadu), and Munnar (Kerala) are famous hill stations in the Western Ghats. 
Nilgiri mountain railway is a part of the "Mountain Railways of India", and is a UNESCO world heritage site situated in Tamilnadu. 13 National parks and 2 biosphere reserves situated in these mountain ranges. Bengal tigers, Asian elephants, lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri Tahr are some famous animals found in this region. 

Reasons for the Western Ghats under threat:

The western ghats are rich in biodiversity but the current situation of these mountain ranges is worse.
Many reasons for destroying the biodiversity in western ghats:
  • Faulty development projects such as mining, industrial activities, and road construction, etc.
  • Plantation of Invasive species such as eucalyptus and pinus during British time causes the loss of biodiversity. Parthenium and Prosopis juliflora are present in the lower part of the Western Ghats and form a mat-like structure which leads to degradation of the native biodiversity.

  



















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