Tiger reserves, woodsy cardamom forests, mist-sunk British hill stations, high altitude meadows – vacations to the Western Ghats delve deep into one of the world’s most biodiverse landscapes. This hulking fold of low mountains is powerful stuff. It singlehandedly shapes India’s monsoon season, creating the moderate tropical climate that causes forests and rivers – and tea and spice plantations – to boom.
Ghat comes from the Sanskrit ghatta
: a series of steps leading down to holy water. It’s just a hint at the reverence attached to the Western Ghats.
The numbers tell the story. The Western Ghats cradle over 300 threatened animal species (51 are near extinction), 650 tree species, 5,000 different flowering plants and 30 percent of the world’s Asian elephants. And the makeup entirely transforms as you move from north to south. Amongst the deep, dark canopy you’ll feel far removed from the coast, but it’s only ever about 40km away from Goan beaches and Keralan waterways. Not sure where to begin exploring a mountain range that spans the whole length of peninsular India? Read our Western Ghats travel guide.