We all have vague recollections about the school lessons that taught us how the Western Ghats (or the Sahyadris) moderate the monsoons in India, but there’s so much more to them. Here are some facts that you might not know.
1. The Sahyadris are a chain of mountains that run along the west coast of India. They rise from near the Maharashtra-Gujarat border, and run through both states as well as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Goa.
2. The Sahyadris have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That means that the whole world recognizes their natural and historical significance. With the numerous ancient forts scattered around Mumbai and Pune, there’s always a new part of history to be discovered.
3. This area has been declared one of the ‘hottest hot-spots’ of biodiversity in the world. Do you know what it takes to qualify as one of these spots?
– The area must contain at least 1500 species of plants that are natural to that region
– The area should have lost at least 70% of its primary vegetation.
That means, not only are the Western Ghats filled with spectacular plants and animals; they’re also at least 70% less than all they could have been.
4. The Western Ghats have over 7000 species of flowering plants, almost 2000 non-flowering plants, over 100 mammal species, over 500 bird species, almost 200 amphibian species, almost 300 fish species, and an incredible 6000 insect species. That’s one helluva lotta species. And you know what the best part is? The specialists say that there are a lot more undiscovered species still living there!
5. India was once a part of a supercontinent called Gondwanaland. When the continent began to break up about 150-180 million years ago, it split into pieces, one of which was India. The Western Ghats were actually the edges of the Deccan Plateau that were pushed upwards due to volcanic eruptions. That’s pretty cool, huh?
6. Ever heard of the Deccan Traps? We hadn’t either, until we started doing some digging. The Deccan Traps are layers of lava that covered the land about 65 million years ago. All those volcanic eruptions (most of them in the region that we now know as Mumbai) caused a lava flow that covered a massive area, releasing poisonous gases. There are some theories that say that these gases changed the climate and contributed to the extinction of dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs! The fossils of previously unknown species of dinosaurs have been discovered in the Western Ghats. Parts of bones from the Rajasaurus and the species of Titanosaurus have been found, and there’s a possibility of more.
Between ancient continental shifts, volcanoes, dinosaurs, undiscovered species of animals and bird, and a lot more, this is starting to sound a lot like Jurassic Park meets Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Why on earth didn’t our teachers tell us all this cool stuff in school?
But to summarize it all, nothing else matters as much as how much we love our own wild Western Ghats, right here in our own backyard. Our feet start itching before the first monsoon drizzles even arrive, and we’re waiting to get out there and start trekking.
If you haven’t yet been out to explore the Western Ghats, now’s the time. Sign up for our treks around Mumbai and Pune for a weekend taste of adventure.
P.S: Some of the numbers and dates in this blog post are disputed by experts, so we’ve used the closest range, and we’ve simplified everything as we understood it. If we’ve lost something in translation, forgive us. For exact details, you should refer to the originators/researchers. (Basically, don’t quote us in your school or college essay! This was just to boggle your mind.)
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