All that glitters….. Fireflies Festival – Bhandardara

Imagine yourself passing through a dense forest in the middle of the night, just after the 1st rain of the season has rejuvenated the entire place. Apart from the rev of the vehicle engine, only thing you can hear is the chirping and the buzzing of the insects in the night. And from the woods, around the trees, you observe a glitter, which leaves you spell bound and make you think about the magical world we live in.

Lampyridae is the scientific name for family of winged beetles, which are commonly known as fireflies, are the lovely creatures which use bioluminescence to attract their mates. When 1000s and 1000s of fireflies, or ‘jugnus’ as referred to in Hindi, hover around your head in search of their mates, emitting glittering light, it creates a mystical and beautiful phenomenon, one which remains in your mind for the rest of your lives.

The fireflies are found in large quantities in and around the forests surrounding the Western Ghats in Maharashtra. Year on year, it draws large number of tourists and adventure enthusiasts from all around the country to witness this limited edition spectacle. Rajmachi, Purushwadi, Prabalmachi, Malshej and Bhandardara are the famous locations where firefly sighting is the highest in the months prior to the onset of the monsoon.

Luxor Trails, an adventure travel company, in association with ‘Things To Do in Mumbai’ planned a trip to witness this spectacle last weekend, where I joined them. A heavy thunderstorm en route to the location made me skeptical about the chances to witness this beauty and raise my concerns with the tour planner.
“The chances of fireflies increase many fold just after the 1st rains. You will definitely be able to see the fireflies,” said Harsh Shah, owner of Luxor Trails.

As the night sky took charge, the rains receded and the mercury dipped, all the eyes were now fixed on the windows as the bus took the serpentine turns up the hill towards the firefly sighting point. A thrilling experience in itself, roaming out in the pitch dark night, using only the sense of your judgment for the next step you take, out on trees, you see 100s and 1000s of fireflies, glowing and glittering at specific intervals as if they are practicing a routine in excellent synchronization.

After 3 dozen clicks and mud slain shoes, as I looked around the woods where I set up my camera, I was left mesmerized and spell bound by the harmless little glowing insects, merry-making all around me. All that glitters is not gold, but this glitter definitely brings a smile to your face, sanity to mind and peace to heart.

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