The Western Ghats or the Sahyādri constitute a mountain range along the western side of India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the eight hottest hotspots of biological diversity in the world. It is sometimes called the Great Escarpment of India. The range runs north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau, and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain along the Arabian Sea. The range starts near the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra, south of the Tapti river, and runs approximately 1,600 km (990 mi) through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala ending at Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of India. These hills cover 160,000 km2 (62,000 sq mi) and form the catchment area for complex riverine drainage systems that drain almost 40% of India. The Western Ghats block rainfall to the Deccan Plateau. The average elevation is around 1,200 m (3,900 ft). The area is one of the world's ten "Hottest biodiversity hotspots" and has over 5000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species; it is likely that many undiscovered species live in the Western Ghats. At least 325 globally threatened species occur in the Western Ghats.
The Western Ghats are not true mountains, but are the faulted edge of the Deccan Plateau. They are believed to have been formed during the break-up of the super continent of Gondwana some 150 million years ago. Geophysicists Barron and Harrison from the University of Miami advocate the theory that the west coast of India came into being somewhere around 100 to 80 mya after it broke away from Madagascar. After the break-up, the western coast of India would have appeared as an abrupt cliff some 1,000 m (3,300 ft) in elevation. Basalt is the predominant rock found in the hills reaching a depth of 3 km (2 mi). Other rock types found are charnockites,granite gneiss, khondalites, leptynites, metamorphic gneisses with detached occurrences of crystalline limestone, iron ore,dolerites and anorthosites. Residual laterite and bauxite ores are also found in the southern hills.
A view of Anamudi, the highest peak of western Ghats 2,695 metres (8,842 ft) from Eravikulam National Park, Kerala. Hill ranges
The Western Ghats extend from the Satpura Range in the north, go south past Maharashtra, Goa, through Karnataka and intoKerala and Tamil Nadu. Major gaps in the range are the Goa Gap, between the Maharashtra and Karnataka sections, and thePalghat Gap on the Tamil Nadu and Kerala border between the Nilgiri Hills and the Anaimalai Hills. Sahyadhris
The major hill range starting from the north is the Sahyadhri (the benevolent mountains) range. This range is home to many hill stations like Matheran, Lonavala-Khandala, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Amboli Ghat, Kudremukh and Kodagu. The range is called Sahyadri in northern Maharashtra, Karnataka and Sahya Parvatam in Kerala. Nilgiris
The Nilgiri Hills,also known as the Nilagiri malai, are in northwestern Tamil Nadu. The Nilgiri Hills are home to the hill station Ooty. The Bili giri rangana Betta southeast of Mysore in Karnataka, meet the Shevaroys (Servarayan range) and Tirumala range farther east, linking the Western Ghats to the Eastern Ghats. In the South, the range is or Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu. Anaimalai Hills
South of the Palghat Gap are the Anaimalai Hills, in western Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Smaller ranges are further south, including theCardamom Hills. In the southern part of the range is Anamudi peak 2,695 metres (8,842 ft) in Kerala the highest peak in Western Ghats. Chembra Peak 2,100 metres (6,890 ft), Banasura Peak 2,073 metres (6,801 ft), Vellarimala 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) and Agasthya mala 1,868 metres (6,129 ft) are also in Kerala. Doddabetta in...
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