Western Ghats - A Brief Overview

The Western Ghats are a mountain range running parallel along the western coast of India starting from Gujarat and ending in Tamil Nadu covering the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. The Ghats are often called the Great Escarpment of India and are also a UNESCO World Heritage site. This article covers many important facts on the Western Ghats.

Aspirants would find this article very helpful while preparing for the IAS Exam.

The topic, ‘Western Ghats’ comes under Geography syllabus of Civil Services Examination. Download the notes on Western Ghats PDF provided in the end of the article.

Important Facts about Western Ghats for UPSC

There are a few questions that are frequently asked about the Western Ghats. The table below mentions those questions and supporting answers about Western Ghats for UPSC.

Why are the Western Ghats called Ghats? Ghats are known to be a mountain pass and as Deccan plateau of India is surrounded by Ghats on west and east, the Western mountain ranges are called as the Western Ghats
Why are the Western Ghats important? The World Wide Fund for Nature has defined the importance of Western Ghats as, “The Western Ghats perform important hydrological and watershed functions. Approximately 245 million people live in the peninsular Indian states that receive most of their water supply from rivers originating in the Western Ghats. Thus, the soil and water of this region sustain the livelihoods of millions of people.”
How many states are covered by the Western Ghats? Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are the six Indian states covered by the Western Ghats
What is another name given to the Western Ghats? There are a few local names given to the Western Ghats:

  • Sahyadri in Maharashtra
  • Nilgiri hills in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
  • Anaimalai hills and Cardamom hills in Kerala
Are the Western Ghats a continuous or discontinuous range of mountains? The Western Ghats are a continuous range of mountain
What is the speciality of Western Ghats? High Biodiversity and Endemism are special features of Western Ghats
What kind of forests are found in the Western Ghats? Evergreen Forests are found here
How were the Western Ghats formed? The erosion of Gondwana supercontinent led to the formation of peninsular India, and further erosion of Deccan plateau has given rise to the Western Ghats
Which is the highest peak of Western Ghats? Anaimudi is the highest peak
Are the Western Ghats older than the Himalayas? Yes, Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas
Which is the famous Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats? Nilgiri Biosphere is the famous one

Note on the Western Ghats for IAS Exam

The mountain range is also a “Hottest Hotspot” of biodiversity, being one of eight in the world. The Western Ghats contain 39 properties that include national parks, reserve forests and wildlife sanctuaries. The mountains of the range cover an area of approximately 140000 sq. km. It is 1600 km long interrupted only by a low mountain pass called the Palakkad Pass.

The Western Ghats are extremely important from several points of view. One is its geomorphic importance. It is older than the Himalayas and is considered an ‘evolutionary ecotone’ illustrating the “Out of Africa” and the “Out of India” hypotheses. The Ghats also have a major influence on the ecological and biophysical processes on the entire peninsula of India. They also influence the monsoon weather patterns across the country. They present a classic example of the tropical monsoon system. The mountains act as a barrier to the rain-laden southwest monsoon winds in late summer in India.

Another reason for the Ghats’ significance is the enormous diversity and abundance of species of flora and fauna in this region. Many of these species are also endemic to the region. There are 4 – 5 thousand plant species here out of which 650 tree species are found. And, out of the 650 tree species, 352 are endemic. There are also 179 amphibian species, 65% of which are endemic; 157 reptile species, 62% of which are endemic; and 219 fish species, 53% of which are endemic. There are many flagship mammal species also here. Some of the endangered species found here are Nilgiri Tahr, Lion-tailed Macaque and Nilgiri Langur.

Western Ghats – UPSC Notes:-Download PDF Here

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Western Ghats – Recent News

  1. A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the draft notification issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) concerning demarcation of 56,825 square kilometres as Western Ghats Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).
  2. A team of conservationists from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Sathaye College, and the University of Camerino has discovered a new species of plant, Echinops sahyadricus, in the northern Western Ghats. A paper on the discovery has been published in the international journal ‘Nordic Journal of Botany’.


Candidates can find the general pattern of the Civil Service Exam by visiting the UPSC Syllabus 2020 page.

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