Nature is filled with never-ending surprises. We hear scientists discovering something new every day; a myriad of new elements are recognized every year. However, one such mesmerizing factor about nature that has been recognized and might not have been heard of is the existence of bioluminescent forests. In simple terms, glowing forests.
The Glowing Nature
Maharashtra’s Bhimashankar Wildlife Reserve which is situated approximately 100 km to the east of Mumbai has a rare yet beautiful occurrence — after sunset when the whole forest is dark, it actually glows and lights up.
This is usually witnessed only in tropical forests that have decaying wood. Also called as foxfire or fairy fire, the glow is credited to luciferase which is an oxidative enzyme that emits light when it comes in contact with a light-emitting substance present on the rotting bark of trees. Moreover, to find bio-luminescence on land is far more difficult than it is in water bodies with only about 70 out of 10,000 species of fungi being bio-luminescent. This fungus glows in the dark to give the impression that the trees in the forest are glowing. The forest floor is covered in a night light that makes for one of the biggest spectacles in nature.
The Karnataka-Maharashtra-Goa belt is home for bio-luminescence on land. Scientists believe that bio-luminescence is a common phenomenon but to see it on land is extremely rare. Only around 70 of the over-1,00,000 species of fungi are capable of bioluminescence.
The Beauty of Western Ghats
The Western Ghats, considered among the richest rainforests in the world, it is home to an abundance of endemic flora and fauna. Sahyadris stretch up to 1600 km, starting from the state of Gujarat to the southern region of Kerala. However, this forested region along the west coast of the country is inhabited by a number of wild animals. Including leopards, tigers, black panthers, wild Asian elephants and several species of snakes. Interestingly, about 39 properties in the Western Ghats have been acknowledged as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The best time to visit the Western Ghats to witness this beauty is during monsoons. Anytime between the months of June to October is ideal. Just be aware that spotting this rare phenomenon is not guaranteed. It all depends on the intensity of rains, moisture present in these forests and also some luck. Only a few have been lucky enough to witness the glow. Apart from Bimashankar Wildlife Reserve, these sightings have also been spotted near Chorla Ghats in Goa.