You probably have vague memories of school lessons that showed how the Western Ghats (or the Sahyadris) moderate the monsoons in India, but there’s lots of cool stuff that we weren’t taught. Here are six facts that you’ve not heard before. (At least, WE hadn’t.)
1. The Sahyadris have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That means that the whole world recognizes their natural and historical significance.
2. 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.
3. 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 the best part? The specialists say that there are a lot more undiscovered species still living there!
4. The Western Ghats are not really mountains or hills. India was once a part of a super continent called Gondwanaland. When the continent began to break up about 150-180 million years ago, it split into pieces, one of which was India. They’re actually the edge of the Deccan Plateau, and they were pushed upwards due to volcanic eruptions. That’s pretty cool, huh?
5. 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.
6. 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.
All this isn’t even touching upon the hundreds of forts, temples, architectural ruins and myths of the area. If you haven’t yet been out to explore the Western Ghats, now’s the time. Sign up for our monsoon treks in the areas 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.)
We referred to the following sources:
– World Wildlife Fund
– Some amount of rapid Googling