Western Ghats

The Sahyadri Mountains

The Western Ghats or Sahyadri mountains is a chain of highlands that runs along the western coast of India through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu covering an area of 159,000 sq km. The average elevation is around 900 m and the highest point is reached at Anamudi peak(2695 m).

The main peaks in the Western Ghats are Kalsubai, Mahabaleshwar, Harishchandragarh, Kudremukh, and Anamudi. The Palakkad Gap is a major gap that connects Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The small ranges Nilgiri Hills and the Tirumala range link the Western Ghats to the Eastern Ghats.

Konkan Coast comprises the northern portion of the ghat and Malabar, the southern part. The hilly region east of the Ghat in Maharashtra is Desh, while the eastern hills of central Karnataka are known as Malnad region.

Scrub jungles, grasslands, dry and moist deciduous forests, semi-evergreen and evergreen forests are the variety of vegetation along the Ghats. Agasthyamalai hills and the Silent Valley are the two main centers of diversity. The only biodiversity reserve in the Western Ghats is the Nilgiri biosphere reserve. It is estimated that about one-third of the flowering plant species in India is found in this area. The complex terrain and heavy rainfall have helped preserve the flora and fauna in this region.The ancient Sanskrit name, 'Sahyadri', suggests 'benevolent mountain' and this is a pointer to the mountain ranges' capacity to absorb monsoon rains and release them gradually over the rest of the year, thus keeping the regions of south India sufficiently wet.

The perennial rivers of the ghat - Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri and their tributaries flow into the Bay of Bengal. Some of the national parks situated in this region are the Borivali National Park, Nagarhole National Park, Bandipur National Park, Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, and Periyar National Park.

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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