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 States Three (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).

Gujarat Maharashtra Karnataka Kerala TN
The Dangs Ahmednagar Belgaum Idukki Coimbatore
Navsari Kolhapur Chamrajnagar Kannur Dindugal
Valsad Nandurbar Chikmagalur Kasaragod Erode
Nashik Dakshin Kannad Kollam Kanyakumari
Pune Davanagere Kottayam Nilgiris
Raigarh Hassan Kozhikode Tirunelveli
Ratnagiri Kodagu Malappuram Tiruppur
Satara Mysore Palakkad Theni
Sindhudurg Shimoga Pattanamtitta Virudunagar
Thane Udupi Thiruvananthapuram
Uttar Kannada Thrissur

+ UT- Diu Daman (Silvassa region)

Western vs Eastern Ghats

Western Eastern
Almost Continuous hills Discontinuous hills (thanks to River deltas)
avg. height : 1500 to 2000 m lower: 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 delta Long broad rivers, form delta.
Narmada-Tapi Krishna, 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 Slope Eastern Slope
Rainfall: 200cm 70-200cm
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
Narmada Tapi
Origin (both MP) Amarkantak hills Satpura Ranges.
Length Longer Shorter
States covered Guj, MP Guj, MP, Mah.
Other names Reva Handmaid 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
Godavari Krishna Kaveri
Origin Nasik, Mah. Mahabaleshwar Brahmagiri Range
Length (km) 1500 1400 750
Water Basin covers Mah, MP, Odi, AP* Mah, Karn, AP Karn, Ker, TN
Other names Dakshin Ganga/Vridha Ganga Ganga of South
Misc.notes Sivasamudram water falls.
  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? Lobate Arcuate Quadrilateral
  • *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
  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
Region Cultivation of
Valleys Paddy
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 Ghats Native 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.