The diverse topography of India allows it to have a platter of scenic landscapes. There’s a lot to witness from the mountains of the Himalayas to the coastal plains on the east and west. The diversity reaches a peak in the rainforests of India, being near the equator, most of India’s rainforests are tropical. They have dense vegetation and are home to innumerable species of mammals, birds, and reptiles.
When the monsoons arrive, India’s rainforests gain a new life. If you stand in between a rainforest in monsoon, you can hear the insects and birds, smell the moist soil, and see the bright colors of the forest glow after every shower. Rainy months make it easier to spot some distinct varieties of birds, raising hopes of bird watchers. Monsoon is the time you should leave your forest lodges and hammocks to explore the wonders that await you. Put on your hiking boots and grab those binoculars, let’s explore the 5 rainforests in India you must visit during the monsoon:
Exploring this rainforest is a unique experience, almost like finding a hidden treasure in every route. Seeing less footfall as compared to the rainforests in the Western Ghats, the northeastern rainforests are less explored and thus pristine. This rainforest covers northern Assam, bits of Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur, and a part of Arunachal Pradesh. The topography of the forest allows it to have thick dense forests on low-lying hills, that’s why the forests in this region are at an altitude of around 900 meters.
The entire forest gets a lot of rainfall every year, which causes diverse landscapes of riparian forests, swamps, and grasslands. The evergreen forests of Assam Valley are especially bright in the monsoon months, with the forests gleaming under the sunshine after every rain shower. There are widespread evergreen forests around the Naga Hills, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Manipur. While many parts of these evergreen forests are untouched, some bits are commercialized and invite many travelers every year. If you’ve seen the root bridges of Meghalaya, you’ll know the kind of great trees and natural structures these forests are capable of creating.
The favorable climate is perfect for thriving sal forests across the region, walking between which is going to feel as if you are walking through a wallpaper. Green sceneries and vegetation are not the only highlights of the northeastern rainforest, a huge elephant population and different species of primates make these rainforests their home. You can spot primates like the rhesus macaque, Assamese macaque, pig-tailed macaque, stump-tailed macaque, slow loris, hoolock gibbon, and capped langurs in the forests.
Things To Do In The Northeastern Rainforest
The natural splendors of the region let you try unique things on your trip to the north east. Go on an elephant or jeep safari to spot the one-horned rhinos and tigers in the Kaziranga National Park. It’s quite thrilling to spot the animals from between the elephant grass growing in the region. Make a detour to the Kakochang Waterfall located near Kaziranga and take a shower under its clear cold water. Just watching this brimming waterfall from a distance fills you with satisfaction in the monsoon.
Since the rainforest is spread over a wide area, there are several tribal settlements falling in between. Tribes like the Dimasa Kachauris, Zeme Nagas, Hmars, and the Kukis have been living in the rainforests for centuries. There is a lot to learn from the tribals, their livelihood depends on the forest, and watching them go about their activities is enthralling. Though some settlements are remote and don’t entertain outsiders, many of them are open to tourists. In the villages around Assam, you can see women sewing shawls and saris by hand.
If you wonder where to spend your days, you can choose the Dima Hasao district of Assam. This hilly region has lots of natural beauty, hiking in the hills around the region allows you a close brush with the northeastern rainforests and their mysteries. The view of the Borail mountains from this hill district is breathtaking in the monsoon season.
The most popular and most visited rainforests in India are the deciduous moist forests of the Western Ghats. They’re home to many species of animals, hosting a huge population of elephants. The presence of elephants is in such great numbers that the largest elephant population in Asia is seen in the Western Ghats. Starting from southeastern Gujarat, the forest runs through Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Maharashtra, Goa and spreads up to Karnataka, covering an area of approximately 30,000 square kilometers.
It’s in the forests of Wayanad, Kerala, that the forests make a transition and meet the South Western Ghats forests. A lot of areas in these rain forests fall under protected lands. Chances are you’ve already seen bits of this rainforest if you have been to sanctuaries like the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnala Bird Sanctuary, Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary, etc. More than 1,100 species of animals and hundreds of species of birds reside in the rainforests and its protected areas.
The location of this rainforest is quite unique as compared to the other rainforests in India. The forests run parallel to the Arabian Sea and are nestled between the slopes of the Western Ghats. This diverse topography has caused the rainforest to be among the top 10 hottest biodiversity hotspots in the world. Wild cats like tigers, leopards, and panthers leave their pugmarks behind on the moist soil of the North Western Ghats. Visiting the forests in the monsoon season increases your chances of spotting the Great Indian Hornbill, crested hawk eagle, big barn owl, and many other bird species that live in the region.
Things To Do In The North Western Ghats Rainforest
Check out the Chandoli National Park in Maharashtra, you might end up spotting any one of the 9 tigers in the region. If not tigers, you are sure to spot one of the 66 leopards that roam around the national park. You can go boating on the Tulsi Lake in the park or go bird watching in the region.
Spend a few days in the Kudremukh hill station in Karnataka. The hill ranges are famous for their scenic beauty and biodiversity. While you’re here, you can visit the Kudremukh National Park to see the North Western rainforest really up close. The explorer in you can go trekking to the Kudremukh Peak or hike to the Hanuman Gundi Falls.
Don’t limit yourself, the Western Ghats are widespread, opening travelers to many trek routes and wildlife sanctuaries. Monsoons add an extra element to the forests around the Western Ghats, you can find many ways to explore them at your own pace.
After the forests of North Western Ghats trail off after reaching Wayanad in Kerala, the montane rain forests of the South Western Ghats start. The forest covers some bits of Karnataka and is majorly spread in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Visiting this montane rainforest in the monsoon season is more pleasant than the nearby South Western Ghats’ moist deciduous forests. Since the montane rainforests are at a higher elevation of 1,000 meters, they’re cooler and wetter in monsoon than the deciduous forests which tend to get hotter in rainy months.
The South Western Ghats’ montane rain forests cover an area of around 22,600 square kilometers, but only 3,200 square kilometers are protected. Monsoons here are influenced by the moisture-laden winds of the Arabian Sea, making the South Western Ghats the wettest portion of peninsular India. These climatic conditions make this rainforest very fertile, the canopy of some trees taking over an area of 15 to 20 meters. The fertile soil has benefitted the flowering plants too, you can see varieties of epiphytes growing in the region.
The dense montane rain forests of the South Western Ghats are home to threatened tigers, leopards, sloth bears, Indian bison, and the Indian wild dog. If you explore the area between the Nilgiri Hills in the Agasthyamalai Hills, you can stand a chance to spot the Nilgiri tahr. You’d be lucky if you spot these rare animals as they are native to a 400 km belt of the shola-grassland mosaic in the montane rain forests.
Things To Do In The South Western Ghats Rainforest
Consider taking an intense trek to the top of the Brahmagiri peak in the Coorg-Wayanad area during the monsoon, from this peak you can see the rainforest in full bloom. Rains make the dense foliage seem more inviting, making you wish you could stare at the landscape forever. While you are in the region, you can also visit the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. The best way to explore this sanctuary is not by safari, but by taking a nature walk inside the forest with the locals guiding you about.
If you’re interested in spotting a tiger, check out the Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary as this region in Tamil Nadu is a tiger habitat. Major rivers like the Thamirabarani River and Pahrali River originate in the forest; the presence of these rivers calls for some great bird-watching experiences. Even the Anamalai Tiger Reserve is your best bet at spotting a tiger, but if you don’t spot one, the forest is an amazing way to experience the South Western Ghats rainforest closely.
You can spend your days right in the middle of the forest if you stay in a treehouse in Wayanad, Kerala. The experience is the closest you can get to the beautiful hidden rainforests of the South Western Ghats. Waking up to the sound of birdsong and sleeping to the music of the jungle in Wayanad is going to be a rainforest experience like no other.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are not popular for surfing and scuba diving alone. Wait until you have stepped in their dense tropical evergreen forests. The rainforests give an edge over other rainforests in India because of the different plant and animal species found here. In addition to the native species of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, many plants and animal species are similar to the nearby lands of Myanmar, Thailand, and Bangladesh. The reason behind this similarity in vegetation is because the Andaman Islands were once a part of the same continental landmass.
The evergreen forests receive a lot of rain every year, an average total of 2,000 mm every year to be precise. Such abundant rainfall has resulted in 2,200 varieties of plant species in the evergreen forest. When it comes to wildlife, there are many native mammal species found here like the Andaman horseshoe bat, Andaman spiny shrew, Andaman white-toothed shrew, Jenkin's shrew, and the Andaman rat.
Tsunamis, increase in residential lands, clearing for agriculture and climate change have affected the evergreen forests of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands over the years. Of the few protected areas, Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park and Mount Harriet National Park are the major ones. But they too lack in providing adequate and effective coverage to the rich biodiversity of the evergreen forests. So make sure to do your bit and not harm this landscape!
Things To Do In The Andaman And Nicobar Rainforest
Embark on a nature walk around Barren Island, since the island is an active volcano, it is uninhabited by humans. You can spot many rare animal and bird species on the island since there is zero disturbance of any settlement. Exploring this island feels like you have stepped into the uncharted territory of a pristine evergreen forest.
Trek to the Saddle Peak, the highest point in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The route that goes parallel to the coast gets scenic as you enter dense vegetation and climb up to the peak. The view from the top is spectacular as it gives a panoramic display of the evergreen forest of Andaman and Nicobar. You can check out the Saddle Peak National Park and experience being close to the forests.
You can lose yourself in the natural wonders of Baratang Island. The Limestone Caves and dense mangrove creeks on the Baratang Island bring you intensely close to the forests of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The semi-evergreen forests of Odisha are spread over an area of 8,600 square kilometers on the coastal plain of Odisha state. The forests host wide varieties of flora and fauna, some of them native only to Odisha. Animals like the tiger, Indian bison, and elephants are found aplenty in these semi-evergreen forests. A variety of 215 known species of birds call these semi-evergreen forests their home.
The forests of Odisha which were once widespread and dense have been cleared over decades for urbanization and agriculture. What you see today is just 4% of the entire semi-evergreen forest, the rest 96% was cleared, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Despite the deforestation, many large mammals live in the semi-evergreen forests of Odisha. Whatever remains of the forests today offer beautiful diverse landscapes, like mangroves and palm trees near the coastal areas and a special bamboo habitat in the forests of Chandaka. The wildlife sanctuaries in Odisha have protected globally threatened species like the lesser florican. 12.8% out of the total forest area is protected, something you should witness before this forest cover too starts depleting.
Things To Do In The Odisha’s Semi-Evergreen Forest
See the 10 white tigers in the Nandankanan Zoological Park in Bhubaneswar and check out its botanical garden. At the Chilika Lake Sanctuary in Puri, you can learn about some aquatic wildlife because of the presence of dolphins, crabs, crustaceans, and limbless lizards. The Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary allows you to spot animals like blackbucks, spotted deers, golden jackals, and hyenas.
You can see many migratory birds coming in and settling in the Nalbana Bird Sanctuary for a few months. In the monsoon, this island gets submerged underwater. But when the monsoon subsides, you can see a number of migratory birds making an entry into the sanctuary, a sight you shouldn’t miss. You can also explore the Balukhand-Konark Wildlife Sanctuary that lies between Puri and Konark. This sanctuary is near the coast and lets you witness some distinct flora and fauna in the semi-evergreen forest.
We are sure that nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers must already be excited at the prospect of exploring the rainforests of India in the monsoon season. The idea is more appealing since fewer tourists lead to easier hotel bookings and flight availability in the monsoon. But it’s no cakewalk, India’s rainforests receive heavy rainfall in the monsoon season, the forest paths get slippery and muddy. It’s always better to take precautions to enjoy your monsoon rainforest trip safely.
What Should I Wear While Going To A Rainforest?
Wear a collared long sleeve cotton top and loose light pants. The collared top will keep the sun away from tanning your neck and the long sleeves will protect you against blades of grass that might hurt your arms. Wear ankle-length boots that can withstand mud and water if you’re going in the monsoon. Don’t forget to carry mosquito repellent to keep insects and mosquitoes away.
Will I Be Attacked By Wild Animals If I Explore A Rainforest?
If you’re going by a jeep safari, you won’t be attacked by any wild animals. You’re exposed to insects and reptiles like snakes if you go for a nature walk between the rainforest. But it’s unlikely that you’ll be attacked by large mammals like tigers or bears since they’re in the interior belt of the forest.
Are There Chances Of Landslides In Rainforests In The Monsoon?
No, quite the opposite, forests prevent landslides in the monsoon. If you go to dense rainforests, there is less threat of landslides as the roots of large trees keep the risk of landslides away. Landslides occur when deforestation happens on slopes, as there is nothing to hold the soil on the bare steep slope.
Is Jungle Safari Very Expensive?
Yes, jungle safaris especially in wildlife sanctuaries of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are very expensive. If you’re including a safari in your travel plan, you need to keep a considerable budget aside for a safari.
Are Forests Of India Dangerous?
Yes, some Indian forests are indeed dangerous; deadly animals like tigers, panthers, and leopards can be found in India’s forests. Reptiles like the king cobra and other venomous snakes also pose a threat to the ones exploring the forests without any precautions.
Why Do Animals Ignore Safari Vehicles?
The animals living in a National Park or a sanctuary see these vehicles often. They become used to the vehicles' presence and simply ignore them.
Can You Wear Sneakers On A Safari Ride?
Yes. A sturdy pair of sneakers or even lightweight trekking shoes would be great for a safari ride.
How Many Jungle Safaris Are There In India?
Jungle and/or wildlife sanctuary safaris are very popular in India. There are more than 99 national parks and over 450 wildlife sanctuaries in India, with more than half of them offering safaris.