Nature is filled with never-ending surprises. We hear scientists discovering something new everyday; a myriad of new elements are recognised every year. One such mesmerising factor about nature that has been recognised and might not have been heard of is the existence of bioluminescent forests. In simple terms, glowing forests!
You might have heard of bioluminescent seas, organisms that beautifully light up the shores during the night. But there also exist very few bioluminescent forests, one of which is right here in India! The forests of Western Ghats have shown this stunning property-particularly the forest in the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary. It is found in the Karnataka-Maharashtra-Goa belt of the glorious Western Ghats.
How Do These Forests Glow?
Especially during monsoon, the forest, which is completely soaked in rain, lights up. This is caused by a bacteria called Mycena which has a unique property of lighting up when there is a huge amount of moisture in the air.
These bacterias settle on rotting leaves, branches and twigs that are found on the forest grounds. Visit the tiny tribal village of Ahupe to see the glow of forests in the Bhimashankar Wildlife Reserve, particularly during monsoon.
Apart from these bacterias, many places in the Western Ghats located in Maharashtra are filled with fireflies-another reason for the forests to glow. Go on a night trek to Bhandardara, Rajmachi Fort, etc., to find fireflies putting up the best light show! The pre-monsoon season of May or June is the ideal time to witness fireflies.
More About The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
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The Bhimashankar Wildlife Reserve was mainly made a sanctuary to protect Indian giant squirrels. The rich biodiversity of the forest has been preserved, since these are considered sacred by the tribals living in these places.
Other animals that you may witness at the sanctuary include golden jackals, striped hyenas, leopards, to name a few. You can also spot certain endangered species of birds, such as green pigeon, quaker babble, lesser kestrel, etc., due to which it comes under the Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA).
Bhimashankar is located about 213 km from Mumbai, which takes only 5-6 hours to be reached.
Things To Do At Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
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Apart from the trekking trails, wildlife and bioluminescent forests of Bhimashankar, the sanctuary is home to the Bhimashankar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The forest gets the name from this temple, which happens to be one of the 12 Jyotirlingas found in India.
It is an ancient temple built in Nagara style of architecture that dates back to 13th century. You can see one unique feature of the temple in the bell installed. It has the idol of Mother Mary along with Jesus, which is said to have been gifted by the brother of Bajirao Peshwa I, Chimaji Appa, to the temple.
Best Time To Visit Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
Like previously mentioned, the best time to visit the sanctuary to witness the forests glowing would be during the monsoon months of June to October. It is also the time you can attempt a challenging trek, since the route might be dotted with leeches and slippery rocky terrain.