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The "Western" and "Eastern" Ghats of India

N.K. Chauhan in Geography of India
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Sep 28, 2021 , Updated: Jun 08, 2022 · 10 min read

Western and Eastern Ghats of India and two mountain ranges forming the eastern and western edges, respectively, of the Deccan plateau of peninsular India.

The two ranges run roughly parallel to the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea coasts, respectively, from which they are separated by strips of fairly level coastal land.

Western Ghats

The Western Ghats is a steep-sided, terraced, flat-topped mountain range parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula.

The range starts near the Songadh town of Gujarat, south of the Tapti river, runs approximately 1,600 km through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and ends at Marunthuvazh Malai, Swamithope near the southern tip of India in Tamil Nadu.

The Western Ghats are relatively higher in their southern region.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the eight hotspots of biological diversity in the world.

It has over 7,402 species of flowering plants, 1,814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species, 6,000 insects species, and 290 freshwater fish species.

It contains a very large proportion of the country's flora and fauna, many of which are only found in India and nowhere else in the world.

Western Ghats influence Indian monsoon weather patterns by intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the south-west during late summer.

The northern portion of the narrow coastal plain between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea is known as the Konkan, the central portion is called Kanara and the southern portion is called Malabar.

Western Ghats meet the Eastern Ghats at the Nilgiri mountains in northwestern Tamil Nadu.

The Western Ghats have many peaks that rise above 2,000 m, with "Anaimudi (2,695 m), Kerala" being the highest peak.

There are different local names of Western Ghats:

1) Sahyadri in Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka,
2) Nilgiri hills in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,
3) Anaimalai Hills and Cardamom hills in Kerala.

Northern section

The northern section (900-1,200 m) of the Ghats from Tapi valley to a little north of Goa is made of horizontal sheets of Deccan lavas (Deccan Traps), it is also called Sahyadris.

Sahyadris are made of volcanic igneous rocks (basalt), hence they are geologically younger than the rocks in the other sections of the Western Ghats.

Sahyadris give rise to more number of large rivers, relatively than any other section of the Ghats.

Mahabaleshwar plateau (Maharashtra) is the highest region of the Sahyadris, river Krishna has its origin from this plateau.

Northern Western Ghat Hills
Name Location Elevation
Kalsubai Peak Maharashtra 1,646 m
Salher Maharashtra 1,567 m
Satmala Range Maharashtra 1,472 m
Mahabaleshwar Maharashtra 1,353 m
Harishchandra Maharashtra 1,422 m
Balaghat Range Maharashtra 550-825 m

Middle Section

The middle (~1,200 m)) section is made of granites and gneisses and this area is covered with dense forests.

This section runs through the States of Karnataka and Goa, it terminates in the Nilgiris, where it joins the Eastern Ghats.

Nilgiris are the prominent hills of this section, they rise abruptly at the trijunction of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala to a height of up to 2,000 m.

Doddabetta (2,630 m) on Ooty hills is the highest peak in the Nilgiri Mountains at 2,630 metres.

Nilgiris are block mountains, they rose between two faults and are hence considered to be Horst landforms.

Middle Western Ghat Hills
Name Location Elevation
Doddabetta Peak (Nilgiri) Tamil Nadu 2,637 m
Mukurthi (Nilgiri) Tamil Nadu 2,544 m
Vavul Mala Kerala 2,339 m
Mullayyana Giri(Baba Budan Giri Range) Karnataka 1,930 m
Kudremukh Karnataka 1,894 m
Pashpagiri Karnataka 1,712 m

Southern Section

The southern section of the Western Ghats is separated from the main Sahyadri range by Pal ghat Gap.

Pal ghat Gap it is a rift valley used by a number of roads and railway lines to connect the plains of Tamil Nadu with the coastal plain of Kerala.

Palghat gap (Palakkad gap) is the largest gap (24km wide) in the Western Ghat, it separates the Nilgiris from the Annamalai hills.

It is through this gap that moist-bearing clouds of the southwest monsoon can penetrate some distance inland, bringing rain to the Mysore region.

Southern Section includes the hill ranges of Annamalai and Cardamom:

Annamalai (हाथी पर्वत)

"Annamalai (हाथी पर्वत)" is situated at the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Anaimudi peak (2695 m), Kerala is the highest point of Annamalai hills (Tamil Nadu and ‎Kerala), also the highest point of peninsular India.

Palani hills (Tamil Nadu) are a part of the Annamalai range, they are made of Dharwar igneous rocks.

Kodaikanal hill station (Tamil Nadu) is a part of the Palani hills.

Cardamom hills (Kerala)

Cardamom hills (Kerala) are to the south of Annamalai hills and are separated from them by the Shenkottai pass.

Their name comes from the cardamom spice grown in much of the hills' cool elevation, which also supports pepper and coffee.

Agasthyamalai hills are the southernmost section of the Western Ghats, situated in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Southern Western Ghat Hills
Name Location Elevation
Anamudi - Annamalai Hills Kerala 2,695 m
Palani Hills Tamil Nadu 2,533 m
Agasthyamalai Kerala 1,868 m

Eastern Ghats

The Eastern Ghats are a low lying (150-300m), discontinuous range of mountains along India's eastern coast, extending between the Mahanadi (Odisha) to the Vagai (Tamil Nadu).

They almost disappear between the Godavari and the Krishna.

The Eastern Ghats pass through Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and some parts of Karnataka and Telangana.

They are eroded and cut through by four major rivers of peninsular India: Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri.

The Eastern Ghats are made up of charnockites, granite gneiss, khondalites, metamorphic gneisses and quartzite rock formations.

Limestone, bauxite and iron ore are found in the Eastern Ghats hill ranges.

Geologically they are Precambrian fold mountains and the younger contemporary to Aravalli.

In Tamil Nadu, they are called Shevaroy Hills, Javadi Hills.

In Andhra Pradesh, they are caled Palkonda range, Vellikonda range and Nalamallai hills.

It is called Northern Circars b/w Godavari and Mahanadi basin, which are the highest part of the Eastern Ghats.

These mountains are hardly watershed (जलविभाजक), thus no rivers except Indravati emerge from the Eastern Ghats.

Eastern Ghat Hills
Name Location Elevation
Sinkram (सिंकराम) Gutta Odisha 1,620 m
Mahendragiri Odisha 1,501 m
Garhjat Hills Odisha 1,187 m
Nallamala Hills Andhra Pradesh 1,100 m
Jindhagada Peak (जिन्धगाडा), Araku Valley
(Highest Peak of Eastern Ghats)
Andhra Pradesh 1,690 m
Arma Konda Andhra Pradesh 1,680 m
Galikonda Andhra Pradesh 1,643 m
Javadi Hills Tamil Nadu 1,400 m
Shevroy-Kalrayan Hills Tamil Nadu 1,620 m
Pachaimalai (पचाईमलाई) Hills Tamil Nadu -
Sirumalai Hills Tamil Nadu 1,600 m

. . .
Ajanta mountain range is spread over only one state in India - Maharastra.

Mountain passes in Peninsular & Central India

A mountain pass is a navigable route through a mountain range or over a ridge. At lower elevations it may be called a hill pass.

Mountain passes in Peninsular & Central India
Pass Location Significance
Goran Ghat South of Mount Abu (Aravalli Range), Rajasthan Connects the city of Udaipur with Sirohi and Jalore.
Haldighati Pass Aravalli Range, Rajasthan Connects Rajsamand and Pali districts of Rajasthan.
Asirgarh Fort Pass
(Dakkani Darwaza)
Satpura Range, Madhya Pradesh Connect north India with Deccan Plateau.
Bhor Ghat Western Ghats, Maharashtra Between Palasdari and Khandala for railway and between Khopoli and Khandala for road route.
Thal Ghat
(Kasara Ghat)
Western Ghats, Maharashtra Located on the busy Mumbai's Nashik route.
Amba Ghat Pass Western Ghats, Maharashtra Connects the Ratnagiri district to Kolhapur.
Malshej Ghat Pass Western Ghats, Maharashtra Famous for wide varieties of birds
Naneghat Pass Western Ghats, Maharashtra It connects Pune district to Junnar City.
Tamhini Ghat Western Ghats, Maharashtra Connects the talukas of Mulshi and Tamhini in the Pune district.
Amboli Ghat Pass Western Ghats, Maharashtra It connects Sawantwadi of Maharashtra to Belgaum of Karnataka.
Kumbharli Ghat Pass Western Ghats, Maharashtra Connects Ratnagiri District of Maharashtra with the Satara District.
Chorla Ghat Pass Western Ghats, Goa, Karnataka, and Maharashtra It connects Goa, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.
Palghat Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore) - Kerala (Palakkad) Runs along the entire eastern edge of Kerala isolating it from the neighbouring Tamil Nadu. Nilgiri to the north and the Anaimalai to the south.

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