Wednesday, July 4, 2012

In Praise of Western Ghats.

I am very happy to learn that Western Ghats have been added to the prestigious list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. This happened on 1st July 2012. Its rich biodiversity and natural splendour has made it one of the eight most remarkable spots on earth; that needs utmost care and protection. As I am a witness to the beauty and splendour of Western Ghats for five years, the news of its recognition by UNESCO has made me happy.
I was at Manipal, Karnataka, which is sandwiched between the Arabian Sea on the West and the Western Ghats on the East. You can see this information in the map just above this article. I was at Manipal studying Electrical Engineering Course for 5 years. Manipal is on a hillock with our Engineering College (MIT) and all our Hostel buildings on the eastern end of the hillock directly overlooking the Western Ghats. From majority of the hostel rooms facing the Ghats the view was wonderful with a green valley between us and not so distant Ghats. The sunrise was amazing with the clouds emanating different colours and patterns each day as the Sun rose majestically. With each changing season, the rising mist, the clarity of the mountains during bright sun and the incessant monsoon rains added to the scenery of the Ghats. All rooms facing the Ghats were much in demand among the students and similarly a few top floor rooms on the western side overlooking the Arabian Sea were very popular, for witnessing a picturesque sunset over the Arabian Sea.  I am sure the scenario at Manipal and MIT is the same today.
In those days I went to the Western Ghats a few times specially to a very popular vantage point near Agumbe Town from where the Sunset over the Sea looks very beautiful. Though the most convenient and popular routes to Hyderabad in those days were via Mangalore and Bangalore by Bus or via Mangalore and Chennai by Train, I and my friends sometimes travelled by hired car by crossing the Western Ghats via Agumbe and Shimoga to reach Hyderabad and enjoyed our journey. This is about my memorable experience with the Western Ghats.
Coming back to the UNESCO recognition, it is because of many wonderful aspects of the Western Ghats. The 1600 Kms. long Western Ghats Mountain Range that you can see in the second picture from top of this article has rain forests older than the Himalayan Mountains. They are home to a very wide range of plant and animal life. It is said that there are over 45,000 plant species, over 650 tree species, a number of popular mammals like Asian Elephant, Gaur, Tiger, Lion-tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri Langur and amphibians up to 179 species, reptiles-157 species, fishes-219 species; some of them are globally threatened species. And most importantly the Western Ghats influence the monsoon weather pattern of our country. ALL THIS NEEDS TO BE PROTECTED, in its very natural form.

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