ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Western Ghats: The Rain God of South India

Updated on June 18, 2022
Deepa damodaran profile image

Deepa is a freelance researcher and journalist. She writes and makes documentaries and videos.


Rich in Species Diversity

The Western Ghats mountain stretch begins in the heartland of India, south of the Tapti river, along the border of the states, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Its undulating heights meander through five more states of India, including Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. However, Karnataka hosts 60% of this gigantic and evergreen mountain behemoth.

The Western Ghats provide water to a river network that keeps 40% of India fertile and inhabitable. The forests and hill ranges cover an area of 1,80,000 square kilometres and its average elevation is 1200 square kilometres. The Western Ghats is among the 36 identified biodiversity hot spots of the world.

Lion Tailed Macaque: An Endemic Species of the Western Ghats


The Rain God

The Western Ghats is home to more than 5000 species of flowering plants, about 140 mammals, around 500 bird species, and a more than 180- member amphibian diversity. Among the above, around 350 are globally endangered species. The Western Ghats also houses 50% of the total amphibian species of the whole of India. Thirty percent of the world population of Asian elephants reside in this forest stretch. This wilderness is also home to 17% of the tigers that the world is left with.

Geographically, this mountain range came about 150 million years ago when the continents drifted away from Gondwana land, the supercontinent of the pre-Jurassic era. The western edge of India thus rose to form into a mountain consisting mainly of basalt rocks.

There are only two mountain passes in this entire mountain range, and they serve as the two doors that help one cross the otherwise formidable fort of this majestic geological kingdom. One is the Goan pass that separates the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. The second is the Palghat pass which is situated in the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.

The Indian subcontinent owes its monsoon rains to the Western Ghats mountain ranges as it intercepts the monsoon winds and brings rain to the plateau and the coasts of south India. The evergreen forests of its ecosystem create a cool atmosphere above them for the rain clouds to condense and pour. During monsoons, these forests receive up to 9000 mm rain and on average, 3000 mm rain year-round.


The Rivers and Shola Forests

Thamraparni, Krishna, Godavari, and Kaveri are the four rivers that originate in these mountains and flow east to merge with the ocean after reaching the Bay of Bengal. Kabani, Periyaar, Bharathapuzha, Pennaar, and Bhavani are a few of the 40 west-flowing rivers that start their journey from the Western Ghats and reach their destination in different Arabian sea estuaries.

The lower ranges of Western Ghats have a tropical climate that is humid and hot. When the elevation is up to 1500 sq.ft. from the sea level the climate changes to a temperate one. In these regions, the temperature throughout the year remains 15 degrees Celsius, on average. The highest peaks have freezing climatic conditions.

The forests in the Western Ghats belong to a classification into 4 types. This classification is made based on the tropical-sub tropical- moist broadleaf ecoregions category of scientifically classifying forest ecosystems. The forests that thrive in the western parts of the mountain ranges are named as north-western Ghats moist deciduous forests. The south-western part hosts two types of forests- the south-western Ghats moist deciduous forests and the south-western Ghats montane rain forests. The deciduous forests are comparatively dry forest areas while rain forests are evergreen wet forests. There is a region of the forest in Wayanad, in Kerala, where one can see the characteristics of both types. The south-western Ghats montane rain forests are the most biodiversity-rich region of the entire Indian sub-continent. This region hosts 80% of the flowering plants of Western Ghats. Another unique feature of Western Ghats is the shola forests. These are vast stretches of montane grasslands with small patches of evergreen forest growing within them.


A Unique Ecosystem

The virgin forests of Western Ghats began to be felled for the first time by the British colonizers to harvest wood and to grow tea plantations. This indiscriminate destruction began in the 1860s and continued till the 1950s. Even after India became independent in 1947, the tree felling did not lose momentum or pace as by then there existed a big industry that thrived on natural resources. It was through the tireless efforts of the British environmentalist, Norman Myers, that the Western Ghats was eventually declared as an ecologically fragile biodiversity hot spot in 1988, which once and forever stopped the mindless exploitation of this pristine forests.

Home to endemic species such as the lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri Tahr Nilgiri Langur, and the great Indian hornbill, abode of many magnificently colored frogs, flying lizards and breathtakingly beautiful orchids, these mountain ranges are a haven for all nature lovers and earth trotters.

© 2020 Deepa


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)