The Ghats are two mountain systems of southern India, averaging 3,000 to 5,000 feet. The Western Ghats run parallel to the Arabian Sea coast, while the Eastern Ghats run roughly parallel to the Bay of Bengal. The two ranges join near the southern tip of India.
The word ghats, literally stairs that descend to a river, refers to the stairlike appearance of the slopes as they descend to the coastal plain. Both ranges receive very heavy rainfall from the Southwest monsoon, especially the Western Ghats, whose annual rainfall is double that of the East.
The Western Ghats cover 1000 miles of coastline, rising as bare jagged peaks above the jungled slopes. They receive considerable rainfall from the southwest monsoon, in contrast to the Eastern Ghats, which receive only half as much annual rainfall. Two peaks in the range top 8,000 feet, namely Anai Mudi (8,841 ft./2,695 m.) and Doda Betta (8,645 ft./2,635 m.).
The Eastern Ghats cover 875 miles, and average 2000 feet in elevation. The northern and southern ends of the range have distinct peaks rising to 4,000 and nearly 5,000 feet respectively. The highest summit is Mahendra Giri (4,924 ft./1,501 m.), which rises near the Southern tip of India. The eastern foothills spread into a fertile coastal plain that varies in width from 30 to 100 miles.