Western Ghats

Quick Facts about Western Ghats

Water Tower  : Western Ghats is also called the “Water Tower “ of peninsular India and form the catchment area for complex riverine drainage systems that drain almost 40% of India

Length : 1600 km parallel to the West Coast of India from river Tapi in the north to Kanyakumari in the south.

Area of the Ghats : 160,000 sq km

Species Diversity : Nearly 4000 species of flowering plants or about 27% of the Country’s total species are known from the Ghats. . About 63% of India’s woody evergreen taxa are endemic to the Western Ghats.  Of 645 species of evergreen trees, about 56% is endemic to the Ghats. Among the lower plant groups, the diversity of bryophytes is impressive with 850–‐‑1000 species; of these 682 species are mosses with 28% endemics and 280 species are liverworts with 43% endemics



Area : The Ghats descend steeply to the coastal plains on the west, but merge rather gently through a series of hills with the Deccan plateau. Geologically the Ghats fall into two sections. North of the river Kali is the Deccan trap country of relatively fragile rocks and flat hill tops. The hills do not rise much beyond 1500 m in this tract. South of Kali is the region of Precambrian archean crystalline rocks which are much harder. The hills tend to be rounded and rise to 2000 m or more.


Bringing monsoon :The Western Ghats force the moisture laden winds coming off the Arabian Sea to rise and receive in consequence heavy precipitation of 2000 mm or more a year. The east of the Ghats is a region of rain shadow and is much drier than the Western face. The rainfall is heavier to the south and extends over 8 to9 months a year. The rainfall is lower in the  northern parts of the Western Ghats  and is restricted to 4 months of.


Water Tower of Peninsular India : The Western Ghats block rainfall to the Deccan Plateau.  Important rivers include the Godavari,Krishna and Kaveri. These rivers flow to the east and drain out into the Bay of Bengal. The west flowing rivers, that drain into the Arabian Sea and the Laccadive Sea, are fast-moving, owing to the short distance travelled and steeper gradient. Important rivers include the Periyar, Bharathappuzha, Netravati, Sharavathi, Mandovi and Zuari. Many of these rivers feed the backwaters of Kerala and Maharashtra. Rivers that flow eastwards of the Ghats drain into the Bay of Bengal. These are comparatively slower moving and eventually merge into larger rivers such as the Kaveri and Krishna. The larger tributaries include the Tunga River, Bhadra river, Bhima River, Malaprabha River,Ghataprabha River, Hemavathi river, Kabini River. In addition there are several smaller rivers such as the Chittar River, Manimuthar River,Kallayi River, Kundali River and the Pachaiyar River.


Biodiversity :  The western slopes of the Ghats have a natural cover of evergreen forest, which changes to moist and then dry deciduous types as one comes to the eastern slopes in proportion with the rainfall pattern that is higher on the western slopes compared to the eastern rain shadow regions. The vegetation reaches its highest diversity towards the southern tip in Kerala with its high statured, rich tropical rain forests.


Tropical rainforests represent primary centres of species richness and endemism within the Western Ghats and cover approximately 20,000 km². Dry  moist deciduous and scrub forests cover another 20,000 km².

A  unique mosaic of stunted montane evergreen forests, called sholas, and rolling grasslands  can be found above 1,500 m.

Western Ghats in Kerala : Tropical moist forest areas of potential conservation value in Kerala are scattered over more than 20,000 Sq Km. natural topographic features such as mountain ridges and valleys divide it into a number of sub-units.