1. The range starts near the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra, south of the Tapti river, and runs approximately 1,600 km through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala ending at Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of India.
2. The mountains intercept the rain-bearing westerly monsoon winds, and are consequently an area of high rainfall, particularly on their western side. The dense forests also contribute to this. The Western Ghats block rainfall to the Deccan Plateau. The average elevation is around 1,200 m (3,900 ft). 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. Thus the Western Ghats form one of the four watersheds of India, feeding the perennial rivers of India. The east flowing rivers drain into the Bay of Bengal and the west flowing rivers which drain into the Arabian Sea, are fast-moving, owing to the short distance travelled and steeper gradient. Many of these rivers feed the backwaters of Kerala and Maharashtra.
3. The area is one of the world’s ten “Hottest biodiversity hotspots”. The area is ecologically sensitive to development and was declared an ecological hotspot in 1988 through the efforts of ecologist Norman Myers. Though this area covers barely five percent of India’s land, 27% of all species of higher plants in India (4,000 of 15,000 species) are found here. Almost 1,800 of these are endemic to the region. The Western Ghats has over 5000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species and several of these species are not found elsewhere in the world and are endemic to this region. It is likely that many undiscovered species live in the Western Ghats. At least 325 globally threatened species occur in the Western Ghats.
4. In August, 2011, the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) designated the entire Western Ghats as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) and, assigned three levels of Ecological Sensitivity to its different regions. (For more details, see