The Western Ghats are internationally recognized as a region of immense global importance for the conservation of biological diversity, besides containing areas of high geological, cultural and aesthetic values. A chain of mountains running parallel to India’s western coast, approximately 30-50 km inland, the Ghats traverse the States of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat. These mountains cover an area of around 140,000 km² in a 1,600 km long stretch that is interrupted only by the 30 km Palghat Gap at around 11°N.
Older than the great Himalayan mountain chain, the Western Ghats of India are a geomorphic feature of immense global importance. The Outstanding Universal Value of the Western Ghats is manifested in the region’s unique and fascinating influence on large-scale biophysical and ecological processes over the entire Indian peninsula. The mountains of the Western Ghats and their characteristic montane forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather patterns that mediate the warm tropical climate of the region, presenting one of the best examples of the tropical monsoon system on the planet. The Ghats act as a key barrier, intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the south-west during late summer.
A significant characteristic of the Western Ghats is the exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism. This mountain chain is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity along with Sri Lanka. The forests of the Western Ghats include some of the best representatives of non equatorial tropical evergreen forests in the world. At least 325 globally threatened (IUCN Red Data List) species occur in the Western Ghats. The globally threatened flora and fauna in the Western Ghats are represented by 229 plant species, 31 mammal species, 15 bird species, 43 amphibian species, 5 reptile species and 1 fish species. Of the total 325 globally threatened species in the Western Ghats, 129 are classified as Vulnerable, 145 as Endangered and 51 as Critically Endangered.
Criterion (ix): The Western Ghats region demonstrates speciation related to the breakup of the ancient landmass of Gondwanaland in the early Jurassic period; secondly to the formation of India into an isolated landmass and the thirdly to the Indian landmass being pushed together with Eurasia. Together with favourable weather patterns and a high gradient being present in the Ghats, high speciation has resulted. The Western Ghats is an “Evolutionary Ecotone” illustrating “Out of Africa” and “Out of Asia” hypotheses on species dispersal and vicariance.
Criterion (x): The Western Ghats contain exceptional levels of plant and animal diversity and endemicity for a continental area. In particular, the level of endemicity for some of the 4-5,000 plant species recorded in the Ghats is very high: of the nearly 650 tree species found in the Western Ghats, 352 (54%) are endemic. Animal diversity is also exceptional, with amphibians (up to 179 species, 65% endemic), reptiles (157 species, 62% endemic), and fishes (219 species, 53% endemic). Invertebrate biodiversity, once better known, is likely also to be very high (with some 80% of tiger beetles endemic). A number of flagship mammals occur in the property, including parts of the single largest population of globally threatened ‘landscape’ species such as the Asian Elephant, Gaur and Tiger. Endangered species such as the lion-tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Tahr and Nilgiri Langur are unique to the area. The property is also key to the conservation of a number of threatened habitats, such as unique seasonally mass-flowering wildflower meadows, Shola forests and Myristica swamps.
Coimbatore is a major industrial city in Tamil Nadu, often likened to being the Manchester or Detroit of Southern India. It’s famous for the manufacture of motor pump sets and varied engineering goods. Coimbatore, also known as Kovai is known for its various industries, engineering goods, textile mills, educational institutions, health care facilities, pleasant weather, friendly culture and hospitality. There is a significant minority of people of North and West Indian origin in Coimbatore which gives it a cosmopolitan outlook. The Tamil spoken here is called Kongu Tamil. Other languages spoken include English, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada. Very friendly & courteous people in South India. Except for early summer it otherwise has a very pleasant climate throughout the year, similar to a resort town. It’s one of the upcoming Information Technology Hub with new initiatives from the State Govt. [read more]
Pune (formerly spelt Poona) is in Maharashtra, India. It is considered the state’s cultural capital and is the second largest city in the state. Pune is known for its educational tourism and has a blend of cultural, business, health, cuisine tourism background. The large student population in the city makes for a lively nightlife and vibrant atmosphere. Pune also houses fantastic restaurants, good museums, and hill forts which offer panoramic views. Since Pune is in the state of Maharashtra, most of the residents are Marathis (or Maharashtrians). The city contains the headquarters of the Pune administrative division. Pune has history that stretches back nearly 1600 years. Pataleshwar caves (Near Jangli Maharaj Road) from the 5th century are evidence to Pune’s old settlements. Pune is a gateway to knowledge about the past with opportunities to learn from the help of forts, monuments, museums and higher-learning institutions. [read more]
Mumbai, a cosmopolitan metropolis, earlier known as Bombay, is the largest city in India and the capital of the state Maharashtra. Mumbai was originally a conglomeration of seven islands on the Konkan coastline which over time were joined to form the island city of Bombay. The island was in turn joined with the neighbouring island of Salsette to form Greater Bombay. The city has an estimated metropolitan population of 21 million (2005), making it one of the world’s most populous cities. Mumbai is undoubtedly the commercial capital of India and is one of the predominant port cities in the country. Mumbai’s nature as the most eclectic and cosmopolitan Indian city is symbolized in the presence of Bollywood within the city, the centre of the globally-influential Hindi film and TV industries. [read more]