GHAUT, s. Hind. ghat.

a. A landing-place; a path of descent to a river; the place of a ferry, &c. Also a quay or the like.

b. A path of descent from a mountain; a mountain pass; and hence

c., n.p. The mountain ranges parallel to the western and eastern coasts of the Peninsula, through which the ghats or passes lead from the table-lands above down to the coast and lowlands. It is probable that foreigners hearing these tracts spoken of respectively as the country above and the country below the Ghats (see BALAGHAUT) were led to regard the word Ghats as a proper name of the mountain range itself, or (like De Barros below) as a word signifying range. And this is in analogy with many other cases of mountain nomenclature, where the name of a pass has been transferred to a mountain chain, or where the word for ‘a pass’ has been mistaken for a word for ‘mountain range.’ The proper sense of the word is well illustrated from Sir A. Wellesley, under b.


1809.—“The dandys there took to their paddles, and keeping the beam to the current the whole way, contrived to land us at the destined gaut.”—Ld. Valentia, i. 185.

1824.—“It is really a very large place, and rises from the river in an amphitheatral form…with many very fine ghâts descending to the water’s edge.”—Heber, i. 167.

c. 1315.—“In 17 more days they arrived at Gurganw. During these 17 days the Gháts were passed, and great heights and depths were seen amongst the hills, where even the elephants became nearly invisible.”—Amir Khusru, in Elliot, iii. 86.

This passage illustrates how the transition from b to c occurred. The Ghats here meant are not a range of mountains so called, but, as the context shows, the passes among the Vindhya and Satpura hills. Compare the two following, in which ‘down the ghauts’ and ‘down the passes’ mean exactly the same thing, though to many people the former expression will suggest ‘down through a range of mountains called the Ghauts.’

1803.—“The enemy are down the ghauts in great consternation.”—Wellington, ii. 333.

„ “The enemy have fled northward, and are getting down the passes as fast as they can.”—M. Elphinstone, in Life by Colebrooke, i. 71.

1826.—“Though it was still raining, I walked up the Bohr Ghât, four miles and a half, to Candaulah.”—Heber, ii. 136, ed. 1844. That is, up one of the Passes, from which Europeans called the mountains themselves “the Ghauts.”
The following passage indicates that the great Sir Walter, with his usual sagacity, saw the true sense of the word in its geographical use, though misled by books to attribute to the (so-called) ‘Eastern Ghauts’ the character that belongs to the Western only.

1827.—“…they approached the Ghauts, those tremendous mountain passes which descend from the table-land of Mysore, and through which the mighty streams that arise in the centre of the Indian Peninsula find their way to the ocean.”—The Surgeon’s Daughter, ch. xiii.

c.— 1553.—“The most notable division which Nature hath planted in this land is a chain of mountains, which the natives, by a generic appellation, because it has no proper name, call Gate, which is as much as to say Serra.”—De Barros, Dec. I. liv. iv. cap. vii.

1561.—“This Serra is called Gate.”—Correa, Lendas, ii. 2, 56.

1563.—“The Cuncam, which is the land skirting the sea, up to a lofty range which they call Guate.”—Garcia, f. 34b.


“Da terra os Naturaes lhe chamam Gate,
Do pe do qual pequena quantidade
Se estende huua fralda estreita, que combate
Do mar a natural ferocidade.…”

Camões, vii. 22.

Englished by Burton:

“The country-people call this range the Ghaut,
and from its foot-hills scanty breadth there be,
whose seaward - sloping coast-plain long
hath fought
’gainst Ocean’s natural ferocity.…”

1623.—“We commenced then to ascend the mountain-(range) which the people of the country call Gat, and which traverses in the middle the whole length of that part of India which projects into the sea, bathed on the east side by the Gulf of Bengal, and on the west by the Ocean, or Sea of Goa.”——P. della Valle, ii. 32; [Hak. Soc. ii. 222].

1673.—“The Mountains here are one continued ridge…and are all along called Gaot.”—Fryer, 187.

1685.—“On les appelle, montagnes de Gatte, c’est comme qui diroit montagnes de montagnes, Gatte en langue du pays ne signifiant autre chose que montagne” (quite wrong).—Ribeyro, Ceylan, (Fr. Transl.), p. 4.

1727.—“The great Rains and Dews that fall from the Mountains of Gatti,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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