When planning a trip, you’re likely to schedule outdoor sightseeing activities during the day. But in some places around the world, the best times to experience nature are at night.
Bioluminescence, a chemical reaction that creates light, can be seen naturally in destinations all across the world. Some places glow as result of bioluminescent animals like shrimp and fireflies, while others are illuminated thanks to bright plants.
India’s mysterious glowing forests
During monsoon season, the rain fall in the jungles of the Western Ghats can give off an eerie glow, allowing a rare glimpse into one of nature’s spectacular eccentricities.
Dark storm clouds gathered above the head in front of us as we readied ourselves to hike through the jungles of Maharashtra’s Bhimshankar Wildlife Reserve, approximately 100km east of Mumbai.
It was late September and monsoon season had been in full force for nearly two months. Despite the leeches, slippery slopes and relentless rain, it was the perfect time of year to witness the unparalleled beauty of India’s Western Ghats. The incessant downpour brought the barren and rocky landscape to life in a vivid shade of green; fresh grass covered nearly every inch of the usually bleak scenery.
A Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the world’s eight biodiversity hotspots, the Western Ghats are among the planet’s richest rainforests, supporting a plethora of endemic flora and fauna. Stretching 1,600km along India’s west coast, from the state of Gujarat to the southern region of Kerala, the Ghats are home to tigers, leopards, the elusive black panther and the world’s largest population of wild Asian elephants. New animal species were discovered as recently as December 2014. But these are just some of the reserve’s more well-known treasures. A more fascinating phenomenon was in store for us later that night.
Deep inside the jungle, a mixture of sweat and rain was trickling down narrow gorge. Afternoon hike to the small tribal hamlet of Ahupe had extended late into the evening, hindered by the heavy showers. Night was falling, and when you switched off your torches , a faint green glow emanated from the ground around you. Astounded, eyes adjusted to the dark. You could see small patches of fluorescent light shining through the night. The forest was glowing!
Monsoon is the best time to see the glowing forest of Western Ghat
During monsoon season, from June through October, these rain-drenched tropical forests can give off an otherworldly glow, caused by a bioluminescent fungus that grows on rotting bark and twigs on the forest floor. Although it occurs in other parts of the world – predominantly in old growth forests in temperate and tropical climates where there is the right mix of moisture and humidity for the bioluminescent fungi to thrive – this mind-boggling phenomenon has only been seen in a few patches of the Western Ghats, particularly in regions within the states of Maharashtra and Goa. Beaches of goa, Juhu beach of Maharashtra and beaches of Karnataka.
Glowing Beaches of Western Ghat
And it’s not an easy phenomenon to spot. While bioluminescent waters and glowing marine organisms are relatively common, terrestrial bioluminescence is far less pronounced, with the only two widely known instances being fireflies and glow worms. Less well known are the 70 – out of nearly 100,000 – species of luminescent fungi, some of which are large enough to easily see. The fungi in the Western Ghats, on the other hand, belong to the Mycena genus, a group of tiny mushrooms that almost look like moss. Scientists still don’t know why they glow.
These unbelievable places are found in India, believe or not but they really exists. Just take rest from your work and visit these wonderful places atleast once in your lifetime, don’t miss the natural beauty of India.