[Conversation] Western Ghats: Overview of Physical Geography, Rivers & Biodiversity

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  1. What is Western Ghats?
  2. Administrative Regions
  3. Western vs Eastern Ghats
  4. Western Ghat: Forest
  5. Western Ghats: Rivers
    1. West Flowing Rivers
    2. East Flowing rivers
  6. Western Ghats- Other Names
  7. Agriculture
  8. Western Ghats: Biodiversity

Western Ghats has been in news because of Gadgil Committee report controversy.

What is Western Ghats?

Western Ghats Map

  • Entire tract of hills from the Tapi to Kanyakumari is called Western Ghats.
  • Length =approx. 1500km and Area= approx. 1.6 lakh sq.kms
  • About 30% of the area of the Western Ghats Region is under forests.
SIX StatesThree (important) Passes
  1. Gujarat (portions of Dang Forests).
  2. Maharashtra
  3. Karnataka
  4. Goa
  5. Kerala
  6. Tamilnadu
  1. Thalghat
  2. Bhorghat
  3. Palghat

Administrative Regions

(no need to mugup table, but if you’re from any of these districts, be more prepared for “profile based” interview questions on Western Ghats).

GujaratMaharashtraKarnatakaKeralaTN
The DangsAhmednagarBelgaumIdukkiCoimbatore
NavsariKolhapurChamrajnagarKannurDindugal
ValsadNandurbarChikmagalurKasaragodErode
NashikDakshin KannadKollamKanyakumari
PuneDavanagereKottayamNilgiris
RaigarhHassanKozhikodeTirunelveli
RatnagiriKodaguMalappuramTiruppur
SataraMysorePalakkadTheni
SindhudurgShimogaPattanamtittaVirudunagar
ThaneUdupiThiruvananthapuram
Uttar KannadaThrissur
Wayanad

+ UT- Diu Daman (Silvassa region)

Western vs Eastern Ghats

WesternEastern
Almost Continuous hillsDiscontinuous hills (thanks to River deltas)
avg. height : 1500 to 2000 mlower: 500-700 m
Highest peak: Anai Mudi (Kerala)Dewodi Munda (Odisha) (as per Majid Hussein). Update: Highest peak in Eastern ghat is Jindhagada peak Andhra- it is few meters taller than Dewodi Munda.
Fast flowing rivers, donot form deltaLong broad rivers, form delta.
Narmada-TapiKrishna, Kaveri, Godawai (these origin from Western Ghats though)
and Mahanadi
Flow into Arabian sea.Into Bay of Bengal.
  • Land between Western and Eastern Ghats=Deccan plateau.
  • Nilgiri hills connect Western and Eastern Ghats.

Western Ghat: Forest

Western SlopeEastern Slope
Rainfall: 200cm70-200cm
Tropical Evergreen+ Semi Evergreen.Moist Deciduous (also known as Monsoon forest)
There is no definite time for trees to shade leaves.
Hence the jungle appears green throughout the year.
Trees shed leaves during dry season.
  1. Rosewood,
  2. Mahogony
  3. Ebony
  4. Aini
  5. Cedar
  6. Hollywood ock
  7. Kail
  1. Teak
  2. Sal
  3. Shisham
  4. Mahua
  5. Sandalwood
  6. Mahua

Western Ghats: Rivers

  • Three main rivers of South India= Krishna, Godavari and Kaveri. They originate from Western Ghats.
  • Traditionally these water resources were used to irrigate the valleys for paddy and arecanut cultivation.
  • But later, construction of major river valley projects =irrigation + power generation.
  • The steep slopes to the western Ghats = ideal for constructing dams and hydel power generation.
  • In recent years construction of resorts and hill stations started around lakes and rivers. E.g. Amba Valley, Lavasa.
  • Rivers flowing from the Western Ghats drain almost 40% of land in India.
  • Roughly 250 million people depend on these rivers .
  • From Western Ghats, rivers originate and flow in both directions: West and East.
West Flowing Rivers
NarmadaTapi
Origin (both MP)Amarkantak hillsSatpura Ranges.
LengthLongerShorter
States coveredGuj, MPGuj, MP, Mah.
Other namesRevaHandmaid of Narmada.
  • Coastal plains between Western Ghats and the Arabian sea are very narrow. Hence, these coastal rivers are short (compared to East flowing rivers)

 

East Flowing rivers- they drain in Bay of Bengal
GodavariKrishnaKaveri
OriginNasik, Mah.MahabaleshwarBrahmagiri Range
Length (km)15001400750
Water Basin coversMah, MP, Odi, AP*Mah, Karn, APKarn, Ker, TN
Other namesDakshin Ganga/Vridha GangaGanga of South
Misc.notesSivasamudram water falls.
Tributaries
  1. Manjra
  2. Wainganga
  3. Penganga
  1. Tungabhadra
  2. Koyana
  3. Ghatprabha
  4. Musi
  5. Bhima
  1. Amravati,
  2. Bhavani,
  3. Hemavati
  4. Kabini.
Type of Delta?LobateArcuateQuadrilateral
  • *NCERT Class 9 Geography: Chapter 3 page 21.
  • Every once in a while, UPSC has a nasty habit of asking MCQ question from “delta-type” (Lobate, Arculate etc.) so do mug it up hahaha.
  • Mahanadi also drains in Bay of Bengal but it comes from Chattisgarh=not part of Western Ghats.

 

Western Ghats- Other names
  1. Maharashtra
Sahyadri
  1. Karnataka
Nilgiri hills
  1. Tamil Nadu
Same as above
  1. Kerala
Anaimalai + Cardamom hills.

Geologically, the Western Ghats is subdivided into three parts

  1. Surat to Goa
  2. Goa to Nilgiris
  3. South of Palghat Gap

 

Agriculture in Western Ghats
RegionCultivation of
ValleysPaddy
Hill slops
  • Earlier slash and burn type agriculture. Nowadays Terrace farming.
  • Millets and legumes.
  • arecanut
Coastal areas
  • coconut, mango, jackfruit

Plantation crops

Introduced by Europeans in Western GhatsNative to Western Ghats
  1. Tea
  2. Coffee
  3. Rubber
  4. Tapioca
  5. Potato
  1. Pepper
  2. Cardamom

Forest produce

  • Pepper, Cardamom,Honey,Wax, Myrobalan (Small Fruit),
  • Bamboos + Reeds = For Basket Weaving
  • 1980 onwards = explosion of forest-based industries such as paper, plywood, polyfibres, matchwood, tanning etc.

Western Ghats: Biodiversity

Western Ghats flora fauna

  • The Western Ghats is one of the Biodiversity hotspots of the country.
  • The wild relatives pepper, cardamom, mango, jackfruit and plantain=found here.
  • Thousands of endemic* species of flowering plants, insects, trees, fishes, butterflies, dragonflies, mollusks (land snails) present.

*What is Endemic Species?

  • Any species which is exclusively confined to a particular geographical area and it is found nowhere else in the world.

Nasikabactrachus sahyadrensis

  • Recently discovered frog species in Western Ghats.
  • It proves that Western Ghat was once part of ancient Gondwana region.

Western Ghat: Notable wildlife

Western ghat wildlife

  1. Tiger
  2. Elephant
  3. The Indian Bison
  4. Lion-Tailed Macaque
  5. Wynad Laughing Thrush (Songbirds)
  6. Travancore Tortoise
  7. Uropeltid Snakes
  8. Several Species Of Legless Amphibians.

In the next article, we’ll see the threats to this rich biodiversity of Western Ghats.

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books
  2. Environment by ShankarIAS
  3. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  4. Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania (Hindi | English)
  5. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  6. Bipin Chandra: Post Independence
  7. Fast-track to Arithmetic Rajesh Verma
  8. MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning
  9. Disha’s Topicwise Paperset (Hindi | English)
  10. School Atlas
  11. Mains: Language papers
  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha


So far 60 Comments posted

  1. aaditya singh

    God hits back with vengeanance!!…some were crticizing mrunal’s rc approach…take that he says

  2. Naveen Emmanuel

    Hello Sir,

    Aren’t there only 3 biological hotspots in India: Eastern Himalayas, Western Ghats and Sri Lanka and Indo-Burma? Please correct me if I am wrong.

    1. Manish

      only 2 hotspots

      1. Western Ghats/Sri Lanka
      2. Indo Burma

      1. Amol

        Hi Manish from MoEF 3 hotspots
        Eastern Himalaya, Western Ghats, Indo Burma.

        1. anks

          Those are national hotspots, assigned by the government also mentioned in the year book. while Western Ghats/Indo burma are biodiversity hotspots which are internationally acclaimed

    2. मनु झा

      According to IYB there are 4 Biological Hot spots
      – W ghats
      – Himalayas
      – North East (part of Indo Burma)
      – Andaman & Nicob Islands (closely related to Sundaland HS of SE Asia )

  3. ashok

    sir part 3 of western ghat is not open

  4. tarunendu singh

    in this article, it is mentioned that western ghats is one of the four biodiversity hotspots of the country.
    is it true?

  5. SUMIT YADAV

    Dear Mrunal PDF is not generating on IPAD.

      1. kaushal jha

        sir mahendragiri is highest peak of eastrn ghat???plz correct me if wrng?

  6. rocky

    sir, second part is not opening please help me

  7. rocky

    YEA IT IS WORKING IN EXPLORER

  8. Ravi

    Hi Mrunal, in the above article while giving the differences between Eastern ghats and Western ghats u had mentioned river Kaveri(cauvery), krishna and godhavari originates at eastern ghats. But all of them have their origin at western ghats.

  9. neha

    sir, its pdf is not open….it only shows print option

    1. Mrunal

      use Google chrome browser: click on that yellow Print/PDF button.
      A new window comes, then press ctrl+P simultaneously on keyboard
      and you’ll get option to take a PDF file.

      1. neha

        thanks sir….

  10. goodday naga

    dear ravi,

    correction..krishna(origin in mahasratra-western ghats), cauveri(karnataka-western ghats) and Gdvari(near nashik in maharastra, thus western ghats)…wot admin mentioned is correct.

  11. Bhavna Tanwar

    Dear sir.. the print and Pdf option is not shown even in Google Chrome..

  12. prashant

    sir ,i am not able to download pdf of arlicles .. option availabe earlire at top right side of article was good even i crome . can you please help

  13. Nikhil

    thanx alot sir great article… can shencottah gap also be considered an important gap of western ghats?

  14. inderjit singh

    Sir, with all due respect the godavari doesnot flow through Madhya pradesh..

  15. inderjit singh

    And odisha..it originates in Maharashtra enter Ap and flows further to the southeast..

  16. inderjit singh

    no it does..my mistake..i didnt notice its tributaries.sorry my mistake.

  17. Rakesh

    For all those getting problem in taking pdf
    Use this method :
    At the bottom of the article there is option of “Print II pdf(Need chrome)”on the right corner,click that then a new page opens and at the top right corner there is option of “Click here to print” ,click that then a new page opens and in the left corner there is option of “destination” then just below it there is a “Change” button ,click that and a new pop up will open of “Select a destination” then change the local destination to “Save as pdf ” then click Save button just below the Total Pages.
    Now you can take a pdf with Google chrome .

  18. narasimha

    sir in eastern ghats the highest peak is ARAKU HILLS….. please correct it.

    1. phani

      yeah., i do support u dude.
      read that Jindhagada Peak @ Aruku Hills is the Highest peak on eastern ghats

  19. ramya

    nice one thnks

  20. Hafsa

    Sir, I am using google crome but still not getting any option for PDF or to print the file.

  21. Juhi

    Sir, I was going through the type of deltas. Savindra Singh’s book on physical geography states that Godavari delta is an example of arcuate shaped delta whereas you have mentioned Lobate. I am very confused at the moment. Help me out.
    Regards,
    Juhi

    1. manukoleth

      It is simple:
      1. Godaveri Delta can be termed arcuate and lobate delta.
      2. I’ll explain Arcuate Delta means arc shaped and Lobate means having rounded projections, Arc is a rounded projection and hence “Lobate is Arcuate”.
      3. But there is difference also- an Arc can be concave and convex Lobate form requires a convex Arc. So a delta having a concave Arc shape is not Lobate and hence “All Arcuate is not Lobate”

      “(” <-concave ")" <-convex and lobate

      PS. look at the parenthesis for doubt on shape. Feel free to correct.

      1. manukoleth

        In this case Godaveri has a convex arc shape.

      2. Petroleum Engineer

        very well explained.thanks manu.

      3. manish sharma

        Such explanations helps.Thanks

  22. supradeep

    thanks. lion tailed macaque looks like jethalal’s wife from tarak mehta…

  23. jk

    sir in wikipedia it is given that narmada river flows thorugh gujrat also..pls clarify

  24. jk

    sorry…maharashtra also(gujrat u have mentioned already)

    1. Juhi

      Check the river map of India . It’s easily visible that Narmada flows through MP and Gujrat only.

    2. manukoleth

      It is a bit complex. Narmada river does not flow through Maharashtra. What you see in Wikipedia is the extension of Narmada Basin, there is a difference. Narmada basin does go through Maharashtra[Dhule District] and even Chattisgarh[Durg District]. The data given in Wikipedia is a straight copy paste of the info given in Narmada Control Authority[http://nca.gov.in/nb_geogr.htm]. The site doesn’t seems to be updated as they still regard Durg District as a part of MP and not Chattisgarh. So correct this when making notes. Hope I could help. Feel free to correct any mistakes.

      1. rahul

        I am from durg and there is no narmada basin in durg.

  25. om mishra

    the highest peak of eastern ghats is MAHENDRAGIRI / ISNT IT?

  26. Alkesh

    Thanks sir, This is very helpful article about western ghats

  27. Vijay

    Sir,
    After completed my degree…Recently I have changed my name state govt gazette….
    I want to apply for staff selection commission CGL posts…..
    &Also i want to apply for State bank PO exam ?
    In which name to apply as per ssc and bank exam rules and regulations?
    Thanking you.

    1. Mrunal

      @Vijay,
      SSC CGL online application form specifically says that
      Note 1: Name as recorded in the Matriculation/Secondary Examination Certificate.
      Note 2: Please do not use any prefix such as Mr. or Ms. etc.

  28. Rajan

    Dear Mrunal Sir,
    In “Western Ghats:Forest” section, you have given “Mahua” twice in second column.

  29. salman qazi

    Hi Mrunal,

    I have been following all your articles.Your depth of knowledge and mode of writing is truly absorbing.I am highly impressed by your Western Ghat and Nepal Logjam articles.
    It would be extremely helpful of you if you can write an article on the Himalayan and Trans Himalayan Region with all its aspects related to Biodiversity and Economic Development.Many Thanks in advance as I am sure CSAT 2013 will definitely ask questions pertaining to any of of the Biodiversity hotspots(Western Ghats or Eastern Himalayas.

  30. Abdulsathar

    sir according to wikipdia, Godavari river covers only 2 sates ie maha rashtra and Andhra, plz clarify

    1. मनु झा

      Wiki Can even be edited by Rahul Awesome Gandhi.

  31. samir

    Indravati is also a tributary of godavari.

  32. bhushan

    Deltas:-
    Kaveri–Last word:i(for all sub)–>quadrilateral
    Godaveri–Last words ga/ra(for subs)–>lobate
    Krishna–all other–>Arcuate

  33. Prabhu

    UPDATE:Highest peak in EG is JINDHAGADA(Andhra).

  34. Ranjan

    India’s largest boundary is with Bangladesh… 1496 km.
    [Length of western Ghat is 1500 km.]
    just adding to help in remembering both…

  35. sumit kumar yadav

    sir please gave the information about all biosphere reserves of india

  36. Aashi

    Amravati is not a tributary of kaveri. Its of Tapi.

    1. Aashi

      i think u meant Akrawati…

  37. Abhishek

    Which is the Highest peak in Eastern Ghats? pls clarify
    As given above is : Dewodi Munda (Odisha) (as per Majid Hussein). Update: Highest peak in Eastern ghat is Jindhagada peak Andhra- it is few meters taller than Dewodi Munda.
    In Wikipedia : Arma Konda (1680 m)
    In NCERT class 9 ch 2 Mahendragiri 1501M

  38. Abhishek

    Which is Highest peak in Eastern Ghats? pls clarify
    In Ncert class 9 ch 2 Mahendragiri 1501M given under topic Peninsular Plateau

  39. kamlesh

    Sir i have downloaded study material of ecology of IGNOU but it not supports in mobile so plz tell what should i do for that any suggestion for mobile App..

  40. Meeta

    Sir! You are such a gem of a person..you have my blessings,my duaein…keep up the good work beautiful mind..:))))

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