Ghats (gŏts) [key] [Hindi, = steps], two mountain ranges of S India, paralleling the coasts of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal and forming two sides of the Deccan plateau. Anai Mudi (8,841 ft/2,695 m) is the highest peak in the two ranges, which are joined by the Nilgiri Hills in the south. The Western Ghats, c.1,000 mi (1,600 km) long, extend SE from the Tapti valley, N of Mumbai, to Kanniyakumri (Cape Comorin) at the southern tip of India; a formidable barrier, they have only one major break, the Palghat Gap. The western side of the range, which receives heavy rainfall from moist monsoon winds, has lush tropical vegetation and dense hardwood forests; the eastern side is relatively dry. The Western Ghats are the watershed for S India's main eastward-flowing rivers, the Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri. Short, steep westward-flowing streams provide hydroelectricity to west-coast cities. The Eastern Ghats, a series of hills c.900 mi (1,450 km) long, extend SW from the Mahanadi valley to the Nilgiri Hills; the highest elevations are at the northern and southern ends. Numerous rivers cut across the Eastern Ghats and are used for hydroelectric-power generation and irrigation. The range has valuable hardwood trees.
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