Anticipating Monsoon in Western Ghats


Rohit Bhat: ‘…But it’s a wild, wild world. In the lap of these rolling hills where perennial rivers and non perennial streams are born, you pull yourself unwillingly from your own fantasy world to witness this.’

‘…Thunder boomed. Lighting went zapping into the sea….Then beyond the cumuliform anvils and soaring castellans turrets we saw a broad ragged band of luminous indigo heading slowly inshore…’

A few of my folks and I keep an eye on the IMD website regularly, when summer is at its peak. The Indian Meteorological Department gives the monsoon forecast in April. They inform whether there would be a drought, a normal monsoon or a bumper monsoon for the year.

And when the rain first hits Kovalam in Kerala, there is an excitement.  Perhaps no other place awaits rains so eagerly- for with the arrival of monsoon, the West Coast and the Western Ghats of India come alive.

‘The rains!’ everyone sang….

But for a trekker, the pleasant breeze, the teasing dark clouds, the dramatic twilight is a huge anticipation altogether.

By the end of May, the weekends of a calendar for  the next few months are bookmarked for various trips to the intriguing Western Ghats which is also known as the Sahyadris ( Maharashtra & Goa), the Malenad(Karnataka) and the Sahya Parvatham(Kerala). Amateurs begin investing in new boots and hiking gears suitable to tackle rains and mud on the trail. As the time passes, the excitement among these adventurers is fulfilled by pre-monsoon clouds: which are just mesmerizing to behold from the cliffs of these mountains. The entire atmosphere is like a beautiful lullaby. Just one good trip to the mountains on weekends makes rest of the week joyous.

………..The wind struck us with a force that made our line bend and waver. Everyone shrieked and grabbed at each other……..

When the blanket of mist embraces the hills, the cool breeze touches you, and the aromatic fragrance of a moistened earth blends with the rhythmic sound of raindrops around, one grows to appreciate the true rewards of trekking- contrary to considering it as yet another schedule for shedding a few extra calories. In our multiple visits to Western Ghats, there were places where we could just have settled down without a second thought. But it’s a wild, wild world. In the lap of these rolling hills where perennial rivers and non perennial streams are born, you pull yourself unwillingly from your own fantasy world to witness this. The stories that are in making amidst scorching heat of summer, will evolve to unique tales of affair between monsoon and one of the oldest mountain ranges of India in coming days. As I write this, I can almost smell the new earth after the first rains, which is yet to fall.

The deluge began.”  – Chasing the Monsoon by Alexander Frater

One of the finest times to trek in Western Ghats is the monsoon. With proper precaution, interest and knowledge one can relish these mountains to the fullest. Beginning from the southernmost part of Gujarat and stretching all the way to Tamil Nadu after traversing through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka & Kerala for over 1600kms, the region presents one of the best examples of the monsoon system on the planet; and because of the biological diversity and endemism it comprises, it is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity.

Words and Photos: Rohit Bhat

About the author: Just as Tolkien said, Rohit can be described as a wanderer who is not lost. He is on a journey far away and enough to meet himself. When he is not trekking the un-trodden trails of the Himalaya, he can be found exploring his favorite haunts in the folds of the Western Ghats mesmerised by the onset of monsoon.

Rohit has created a Facebook group “Intriguing Western Ghats”.

Some of Rohit’s photos can be found here:

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