Sahyadri mountain range which is also known as the Western Ghats is an important series of high hills. The contribution of this range in weather, environment, defence & tourism is very vast. This mountain range is called as Sahyadri Mountains in Maharashtra and Karnataka states, Nilagiri-Malai in Tamil Nadu state and Sahya-Parvatam in the state of Kerala.
Geography of Sahyadri Mountain Range
The Sahyadri Mountain Range or the Western Ghats is among greatest mountain ranges in India. The Sahyadri Mountains are located in south-west India. It is one of the longest mountain ranges in the world as well with its stretch spreading over 1600 kms. This line of mountains originates at Tapti River near state boundary of Maharashtra & Gujarat which later extends up to Kanyakumari region of South most India.
These mountains lie in the various states of India like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the end. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had started building his empire from this range only![caption id="attachment_136" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Amazing view from Rajgad Fort![/caption]
The Sahyadri Mountain Range is protecting western coast region of India since last many ages. India has got the strong line of defence from foreign enemies as well as from adverse weather conditions due to Sahyadris. The average height of these mountains is about 1200m.
All mountains are densely covered with thick lavish green jungles having large varieties of trees. This causes heavy rainfall near the West Indian coast region. Annually, Sahyadri hills receive a huge rainfall of about 400 cm. In the rainy season, these hills wear a beautiful thick green blanket. Entire Sahyadri mountain range looks very splendid in the monsoon months.[caption id="attachment_137" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Varandha Valley Nestled between Sahyadris![/caption]
Wildlife in the Western Ghats
As the Sahyadri mountain region has a thick forest, it has a large number of wildlife animals. Various species of animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects & many other creatures have their homes in the Western Ghats.
Flora (Plant Species)
Various varieties of crops, fruits, flowers & trees can be seen near the Western Ghats. There are close to 7402 plant species in the Sahyadri mountain range. Out of them, 5588 are native, 1438 are planted and 376 species are exotics naturalized.
There are huge numbers of travel spots in the entire Sahyadri mountain range. Various Hill Stations, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Forts, Religious Spots, Trekking Routes, Adventure Spots are situated amidst these mountains. As these hills are located close to the coastal region, many beaches are also located nearby the hills. These spots offer ample of travel opportunities to tourists.[caption id="attachment_138" align="aligncenter" width="750"] View of Matheran Valley![/caption]
The Western Ghats unleash their beauty during the monsoon. It attracts many tourists to enjoy trekking, see magnificent beauty of nature and to spot animals-birds. We will specifically see the tourist spots nestled in Sahyadri mountains of Maharashtra state.
1] Hill Stations:
Many hill stations such as Lonavala, Khandala, Matheran, Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar, Amboli, Kudremukh and Kodagu lies on the Western Ghats.
- Matheran: It is placed close to Mumbai still it has preserved its astonishing natural beauty. The major attraction of Matheran is a Toy Train which runs from Neral to Matheran. It is located in Raigad district along Sahyadri mountain range.
- Lonavala: Lonavala is a perfect weekend destination for tourists of Mumbai & Pune. It drags huge crowd of these cities throughout the year. There are many beautiful & adventurous sightseeing spots in Lonavala.
- Khandala: Being a neighbour of Lonavala, Khandala offers same natural beauty than that of Lonavala. Various tourist spots like Amrutanjan Point, Tigers Leap, Dukes Nose, Bhushi Lake, Bhaja Caves pulls many people.
- Mahabaleshwar: Mahabaleshwar is popular for its beautiful and pleasant climate. Mahabaleshwar has very dense forest and it receives the second highest rainfall in India. Due to the heavy rainfall & elevation, this place offers amazing atmosphere.
- Panchgani: Panchgani is blessed with amazing natural beauty & soothing climate. The eye pleasing beauty of this hill station is amazing.
- Varandha Ghat: Varandha Ghat road is a beautiful mountain pass in Pune district. It is located amidst the Sahyadri mountains. This is an ideal location for the long drive near Pune. Very less number of tourists gives the visit to this place as it is least explored.
- Amboli: Amboli ghat is a beautiful mountain pass (Ghat) on the route from Pune to Goa. This ghat offers amazing scenic views. There are many splashing waterfalls at Amboli Ghat. This place looks like a paradise in monsoon season when many waterfalls originate from the mountains.
2] Trekking Spots
Due to massive heights of Sahyadri mountain range, there are lots of popular trekking opportunities in following spots:
- Kalsubai Peak: Kalsubai Peak (कळसूबाई शिखर) is the highest mountain peak of Maharashtra & of Western Ghats too. Annually, a large number of hikers perform trek at Kalsubai Shikhar. It is a dream of any aspiring hikers to climb this peak.
- Harishchandragad: The Harishchandragad fort is a beautiful hill fort located in Ahmednagar area of Maharashtra. It is a very famous trekking destination among hikers. There are many harishchandragad trek routes for hikers.
- Ratangad: This fort is situated near Igatpuri. The surrounding region of fort has dense forest. One can see a number of umbrella waterfalls, water reservoirs, caves and lush greenery while doing trekking at Ratangad. One can see magnificent views of the Kalsubai peak from Ratangad.
- Rajmachi: Rajmachi fort trek is one of the popular trekking destinations among hikers & adventure lovers. A huge number of hikers visit rajmachi every year. As difficulty level of trekking is easy it takes 35-40 minutes to reach the top of the fort.
- Shivneri Fort: Shivneri is a birthplace of The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Bhosale. Shivaji Maharaj was born on this fort in 1630 AD. Altitude of the shivneri fort is 1067m (about 3500 feets) above Mean Sea Level. The shape of the fort is triangular & tapers to the one side. The fort is wide at the south end and narrow at the north side.
Apart from these, there are many other trekking destinations present at various places in Sahyadri mountain range.[caption id="attachment_140" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Cool lush green snap at Sinhagad Fort![/caption]
Maharashtra is a precious land of the Great Shivaji Maharaj. He built a huge number of land forts as well as hill forts in entire Maratha Kingdom. There are lots of forts situated on Sahyadri mountain range in Maharashtra.
- Raigad Fort: The Raigad fort was an important fort in a strategic point of view. This fort is one of the important forts in Sahyadri mountain range. It was the place of the capital of Maratha empire. The fort lies 820 meter above mean sea level.
- Shivneri Fort: Shivneri is the birthplace of The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Bhosale. Shivaji Maharaj was born on this fort in 1630 AD. This is the place where Shivaji Maharaj spent his most of the childhood.
- Sinhagad Fort: Sinhagad was formerly known as Kondana Fort. Almost everyone in Maharashtra knows the story of Tanaji Malusare who saved the precious life of the Shivaji Maharaj in order to capture Sinhagad Fort.
- Purandar Fort: Purandhar fort is one of the strong forts in the Western Ghats. This fort has fought many historical battles. The siege of Purandar is among remarkable sieges in the history of India.
- Lohagad Fort: Lohagad fort is a twin of Visapur fort located amidst Sahyadri mountain range near Lonavala region. The backwaters of Pauna dam looks spectacular from this fort.
- Torana Fort: Torna was the first fort won by Shivaji Maharaj in 1643. This fort has the highest hill fort in the Pune district (1403 metres above mean sea level). There were various monuments and structures built inside Torana.
- Pratapgad Fort: Pratapgad was among impregnable hill forts of Shivaji Maharaj. The fort has thick forest cover around it. This fort has the strong double line of fortification and walls on its all sides.
- Rajgad Fort: Rajgad was the capital of Maratha Kingdom for the long duration. Rajgad means the king of all forts. One can see magnificent views of Sahyadri Mountain range from this fort. This fort is an ideal spot for camping.
As you can see, Sahyadri mountain range holds each and every type of leisure spots for tourists. These tourists spots in the Western Ghats calls thousands of travelers every year. Trekking & exploring forts are among the most popular adventure activities in Maharashtra between enthusiastic adventure lovers!
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