(GIST OF YOJANA) From Peaks to Valleys: A Holistic exploration of The Western Ghats

(GIST OF YOJANA) From Peaks to Valleys: A Holistic exploration of The Western Ghats


From Peaks to Valleys: A Holistic exploration of The Western Ghats


The Western Ghats are recognised as a global biodiversity hotspot and often referred to as the Great Escarpment of India, also holding the prestigious designation of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Western Ghats, also known as the Sahyadri Mountain Range, stretch from a latitudinal extent of 8°-22°N from the river Tapti in the north to Kanyakumari in the South. It encompasses regions in six States: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, and one Union Territory (Dadra & Nagar Haveli).

Topography and Natural Resources

  • The Western Ghats hold significant importance from several perspectives. One of its significant aspects is that its geomorphic value belongs to the Malabar Rainforest Biogeographic Province. 

  • Their positioning makes the Western Ghats biogeographically distinct and exceptionally biodiverse—a valuable repository of biological wealth. 

  • The Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas and hold the distinction of being an ‘evolutionary ecotone, ‘providing evidence for both the ‘Out of Africa ‘and the ‘Out of India’ hypotheses.

The Western Ghats can be subdivided into three primary parts:

i. The Northern Ghats: The area extends from Gujarat to Maharashtra and represents the lowest and least rugged section of the Western Ghats.

ii. The Central Ghats: They extend from Karnataka to Kerala and represent the highest and most rugged section of the Western Ghats.

iii. The Southern Ghats: The area extends from Kerala to Tamil Nadu and represents the most dissected section of the Western Ghats.

Some of these unique names are:

i. Sahyadri: The meaning of Sahyadri is ‘the abode of Sahya’ (a mythological rain serpent), also known as the ‘benevolent mountain’ due to its verdant landscapes. This range stretches from Gujarat in the north to Maharashtra and Karnataka in the south.

ii. Nilgiri Hills: Signifying ‘blue mountains’, this name is attributed to the southernmost section Grass Hills of Akkamalai of the Western Ghats, located at the junction of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

iii. Sahya Parvatam: In Malayalam, this term translates to ‘Sahya Mountains’ and is commonly used in Kerala, particularly in the southern reaches of the range.

iv. Cardamom Hills: Located on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, these hills derive their name from the cardamom plant, a prominent spice cultivated in the region.

v. Anaimalai Hills: Situated in the southern reaches of the Western Ghats along the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, these hills derive their name from the Tamil word ‘aanai,’ meaning ‘elephant,’ symbolising the presence of wild elephants in the region.

Animals of the Western Ghats 

  • Mammals: The Western Ghats are home to 139 mammal species, with 16 of them being endemic. Among the most threatened species are the Nilgiri Tahr, Lion-tailed Macaque, Gaur, Tiger, Asian Elephant, Sloth Bears, Nilgiri Langur, Indian Leopard, and Nilgiri Marten. The Malabar large-spotted civet is critically endangered.

  • Birds: There are 508 bird species in the Western Ghats, including 16 endemics. Notable species attracting ornithologists worldwide include the Broad-Tailed Grassbird, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Nilgiri Pipit, Black, Rufous-Breasted Laughing Thrush, Rufous Flycatcher, Crimson-Backed Sunbird, Malabar Grey Hornbill, and Grey-Headed Bulbul.

  • Reptiles: Approximately 124 reptile species inhabit the Western Ghats, with Melanophidium, Teretrurus, Plecturus, and Rhabdops being common endemic shield-tailed snakes. Endemic venomous snakes include the Malabar pit viper, striped coral snakes, and the horseshoe pit viper.

  • Amphibians: Nearly 80% of amphibian species in the Western Ghats are endemic. Endemic frogs include the Malabar frog, Micrixalus, and Indirana, while Mercurana, Ghatixalus, and Beddomixalus are among the endemic tree frogs. Ghatophryne and Pedostibes are endemic toads.

  • Fish: The Western Ghats are home to over 288 freshwater and 35 marine fish species, with 118 being endemic. Of the freshwater species, 97 are threatened, with 12 critically endangered, 31 vulnerable, and 54 endangered.

  • Invertebrates: Over 331 butterfly species and 174 dragonfly species can be found in the Western Ghats, with 69 dragonflies being endemic.


  • Priorities include strengthening enforcement mechanisms, promoting sustainable development practices, enhancing collaboration among stakeholders, investing in research and monitoring, and addressing the challenges posed by climate change. Collaboration among the Government, local communities, NGOs, and other stakeholders remains crucial for the successful conservation of the Western Ghats.



Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

Get The Gist 1 Year Subscription Online

Click Here to Download More Free Sample Material

<<Go Back To Main Page

Courtesy: Yojana