Western Ghats

Western Ghats
Photo by Shandos Cleaver.

The Western Ghats is a forested mountain chain that shows high speciation in plant in animal life.

It has been formed during the break-up of the supercontinent of Gondwana some 150 million years ago, as the faulted edge of the Deccan Plateau. It forms a ridge from north to south across India, even influencing the monsoon weather patterns. Its rainforests, rivers and grasslands contain a high plant and animal diversity, including rare and endemic species such as Asian Elephant, Gaur and Tiger.

Community Perspective: out of the 39 inscribed components, Frederik visited the Kaas Plateau, while Nan and Shandos covered Silent Valley National Park.

Map of Western Ghats

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Shandos Cleaver

Australia - 03-Mar-24 -

Western Ghats by Shandos Cleaver

The Western Ghats are one of those intimidating natural WHSs to visit. With 39 locations scattered across a huge area of India, it's difficult enough to determine the geographical location of each location, let along whether it is accessible to visitors. After earlier considering Eravikulam National Park near the popular tourist spot of Munnar in Kerala, but then ruling it out as it's closed in January and February due to calving season, we decided to go with Silent Valley National Park, based on Nan's review.

There's actually a decent amount of information about Silent Valley NP online, thanks to its website and various reviews. However, when we tried to make a booking for a safari by email, we were told to call up! Of course it's a landline phone number that's not on WhatsApp, so a phone call was required. We also received no response when trying to book a driver through our Coimbatore Hotel - a common occurrence in southern India. 

Luckily, despite our misgivings, everything worked out. We visited as a day trip from Coimbatore, about 2 hours each way (even less early in the morning), only booking our 6am pick-up when we arrived at our hotel about 8pm the night before. We were told our safari departed at 8am, although it looked like some safaris departed later, and I'm not sure a booking was essential. Foreigners are pushed onto the safari jeep option, which is not too much more expensive for multiple people (2954 rupees for 2 people, versus 2 x 932 rupees) - but if you're single the mini bus is a lot cheaper.

We enjoyed the safari more than expected. Our jeep was very new and the dreaded bumpy road is now a pair of concrete tracks most of the way - the only bumpy sections were 1km in the centre and the short potholed road between the information/booking centre and the park gate. We regularly stopped along the way to view animals and the forest. After 90 minutes, we reached the end of the road, where we ascended the very tall (but quite sturdy) viewing tower for glimpses of pristine forest and took a short walk through the forest. The animal highlights were a Malabar Giant Squirrel, multiple Nilgiri Langurs, a brightly-coloured White-Bellied Woodpecker and week old elephant poo. We returned about 12:30pm. 

Note that despite the multiple signs for Silent Valley National Park, the national park only properly starts at the end of the road, near the viewing tower. There is a 20km buffer zone around the park, which according to the UNESCO maps is called the Attapardi Reserved Forest, which is another location in the core zone for the WHS - yes, you definitely enter the core zone! I also loved the sign at the info centre: "We go to forests not merely to see wild animals, such journey should be for imbibing the wild and free feeling of wilderness". 


Germany - 17-Dec-19 -

Western Ghats by Nan

After a few hours ride from Coimbatore to Silent Valley National Park, my driver dropped me off at the park entry. I think there were only a few tourists and I got my personal park ranger for the trip. This being remote India, prices were quite reasonable, both for the driver as well as the park ranger.

The park ranger took me into the National Park by jeep, acted as spotter and took me to the standard tourist stops including a view tower. The final stop of the tour was at a waterfall. The roads were rough; there is no way you can do this by normal car. Along the way we saw plenty of monkeys and other animals. We also found elephant tracks, but did not meet any.

What I liked about Silent Valley was its remoteness and space. Most of India, even areas that look remote, are not. You are hard pressed to find idle nature; Silent Valley is. Still, I was hard pressed to identify specific OUV. I have to admit, though, that animal watching is not my thing. I found the chats I had with my driver re living in India way more interesting.

Getting There

The first question you will have to answer is where? The Western Ghats stretch 1600km along western India from Pune all the way down to Kerala. Even if you have settled on the general area you want to visit, you will run into problems. I investigated several national parks and reserves along my route from Goa to Kerala and could find little to no online information or travel information. This was aggravated as most parks are in rather remote areas. I think Kerala is your best option.

Note 2019: The website of the Silent Valley National Park was redone and is now quite fancy. They even list different visiting options. I am not sure if other National Parks also received an upgrade.

In the end, I got a driver and combined my visit to Silent Valley National Park with the ride from Coimbatore to Kochi. Price was okay.

While You Are There

If you are visiting the Southern portion of the Western Ghats in Kerala like I did, there are few other sites to tick off. From Coimbatore you can take the Nilgiri Mountain Railways, one of the Mountain Railways of India to Ooty. In Tamil Nadu you find the Chola Temples.

Not a world heritage site, but quite popular with tourists are the Backwaters in Kerala.

BasavaraJ M R

India - 25-Sep-15 -

We visited to Dhoodsagar (milky falls) in Karnataka Goa boarder of India, In drought like situation also it is raining heavy. Several Big Mountains are not leaving rainy clouds to pass them and Mountains are stopping clouds and raining heavily, we became wet with dress and enjoyed the falls for 2 hrs and enjoyed rain 5 hrs in a day.

Uttara G

India - 06-Jun-14 -

The Kaas plateau is a wonderful place indeed but protective measures need to be hiked if the area is to be preserved as a natural heritage. I have been visiting the plateau for the past few years and must say the place is paying badly for its increasing popularity. Although the forest department has taken some steps, they are woefully inadeqaute.

In 2013, the plateau was besieged by visitors, espeically over the weekends. The long row of vehicles caused traffic jams that led to vehicles staying put in one place for as long as 30 minutes (and i am not exaggerating). People trampled the meadows in their eagerness to take pictures, stepping on flowers to position themselves in the middle of the flowery patches.

The Kaas lake and its vicinity, home to some very small but rare plants, is a favorite spot for picnickers; the place is littered with plastic and glass shards.

Hoping that the forest department will take stricter measures to limit the number of visitors and ensure better protection of the flowers.

Frederik Dawson

Netherlands - 22-Nov-13 -

Western Ghats by Frederik Dawson

As a World Heritage enthusiast, it is a big shame to visit a site that is a World Heritage and does not know it is until a week later! In late October, my colleagues and I had a quick and short business meeting trip in Pune, India. The meetings were not good and end rather quickly. At first we planned to move to Mumbai, so that we could use a free day with a possibility to see two World Heritage sites in that city, but our Indian business partner did not want to pay Mumbai hotel price and persuade us to stay in Pune instead. One of their suggestions was to take us to see the flower valley which sounds quite interesting at least for my colleagues.

Next day morning, we were on a van out of Pune, the areas were still green even in the late monsoon season. We saw two lovely waterfalls, and many beautiful green mountains, the view was not a typical Indian at least in my opinion. The landscape with green grassland with cows reminded me of Sri Lanka! About two and a half hour we finally reached a flower valley, the view of area was lovely with many wide violet flowers full of the whole mountain. The location was not a valley at all but the flowers were located on the high plateau called Kaas. My colleagues told me that the view remind them Tuscany with much more untamed landscape, I could not agree more. After that we drove to see a dam and a lake, the area full of grassland and forest, a very pleasant place to visit.

After come back for a few days, my Indian business partner sent a mail with some photos of my trip and asked me how the Kaas Plateau and mentioned its World Heritage status! At first I was very confused as I never heard the name of Kaas Plateau on the Indian UNESCO list, then I suspected the Western Ghats since I pretty sure that the mountains between Mumbai and Pune was the famous Western Ghats, so I checked the serial sites list and found Kaas Plateau on one of them! So I really visited a World Heritage Site and not only one serial site but two serial sites actually as the lake, I saw, were located in Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary! I enjoyed a visit but felt very bad to call myself a World Heritage enthusiast.


India - 31-Aug-12 -

Hi All

Western ghats is a series of hills, valleys, mountains that form a part of the south western part of India. They form a complex ecosystem conserving water, supporting forests and a rich wildlife. they begin after the city of Pune in Maharashtra alongside the western coast of India and go down till the state of Kerala.

During the Indian monsoons, the ghats are transformed into a magical world of waterfalls, pools, mists and lush greenery.

Arguably the best time to travel is between June and September when its raining in almost all of India. Take a train from Mumbai (Bombay) and watch the western ghats through the Konkan railways. This train line stretches till Trivandrum and you get to see the ghats in all their glory.

You may als drive down but then you would have to watch the road as well, it being India after all!!

But its definitely pretty and worth a trip. Thanks to government intervention most of the ghats are protected through national parks and preservation centres hence you can actually enjoy the train journey.

Site Info

Full Name
Western Ghats
Unesco ID
9 10
Natural landscape - Mountain

Site History

2012 Advisory Body overruled

IUCN asked for Deferral

2012 Revision

Includes former TWHS Silent Valley NP (1991)

2012 Inscribed

2011 Referred

Review scope and composition, and other issues

2011 Referred

2011 Advisory Body overruled

IUCN asked for a deferral

2010 Incomplete - not examined

1991 Referred

As former TWHS Silent Valley NP: Bureau - India to reformulate with better boundaries etc


The site has 39 locations

Western Ghats: Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve
Western Ghats: Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary
Western Ghats: Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Western Ghats: Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary
Western Ghats: Kulathupuzha Range
Western Ghats: Palode Range
Western Ghats: Periyar Tiger Reserve
Western Ghats: Ranni Forest Division
Western Ghats: Konni Forest Division
Western Ghats: Achankovil Forest Division
Western Ghats: Srivilliputtur Wildlife Sanctuary
Western Ghats: Tirunelveli (North) Forest Division (part)
Western Ghats: Eravikulam National Park (and proposed extension)
Western Ghats: Grass Hills National Park
Western Ghats: Karian Shola National Park
Western Ghats: Karian Shola (part of Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary)
Western Ghats: Mankulam Range
Western Ghats: Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
Western Ghats: Mannavan Shola
Western Ghats: Silent Valley National Park
Western Ghats: New Amarambalam Reserved Forest
Western Ghats: Mukurti National Park
Western Ghats: Kalikavu Range
Western Ghats: Attapadi Reserved Forest
Western Ghats: Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary
Western Ghats: Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary
Western Ghats: Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary
Western Ghats: Padinalknad Reserved Forest
Western Ghats: Kerti Reserved Forest
Western Ghats: Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary
Western Ghats: Kudremukh National Park
Western Ghats: Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary
Western Ghats: Someshwara Reserved Forest
Western Ghats: Agumbe Reserved Forest
Western Ghats: Balahalli Reserved Forest
Western Ghats: Kas Plateau
Western Ghats: Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary
Western Ghats: Chandoli National Park
Western Ghats: Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary


The site has

Human Activity
WHS on Other Lists
World Heritage Process