By the end of May, post the hot Indian summer, low pressure looms over the country. Winds from as far as the Southern Hemisphere begin to move across the Indian subcontinent from a south-westerly direction. The moisture-laden winds meet the mighty Western Ghats where they are pushed higher up into the atmosphere. Water condenses into rain-bearing clouds. The clouds are then drawn inland due to the low pressure. The southwest monsoon begins in India and the country receives nearly 75% of its rainfall during the months of June through September.

In the forests of Karnataka, a transformation begins – from a dull brown to lush green.

To watch rain drops trickling down ancient trees, gaining volume to form a run-off, the run-offs converging into streams and eventually, streams gushing away to be a part of something bigger is an enchanting experience.

Water invades the lives of the denizens of forests and each one of them is touched by it in some way or the other.

For a nature photographer, it is one of the finest times to be in the jungle. The vibrance of fresh greens, a sky that is ever-animated with clouds, the occasional ‘peek-a-boo’ by the sun and even the relentless rain are all very desirable elements in a nature photograph.

The jungle bustles with activity that is very unique to the season. For Asiatic Elephants, monsoon is mud spa season. They coat themselves with the red earth, treating their skins to some much-needed nourishment after a harsh summer. The mud provides a protective layer to shield their body from the sun’s rays and also helps to protect them from insect bites.

Rainfall and moisture prompt the emergence of winged termites from deep underground and Sloth Bears work overtime in this season, looking for a good meal.

For the ungulates, the monsoon is a season of bounty and they feast on a variety of fresh vegetation sprouting all across the forest.

With slush everywhere, birds such as the Indian Peafowl have to preen their tail feathers more frequently so as to keep them clean of soil.

The big cats, on the other hand, keep a low profile and move about less as compared to the drier months when they are out in search of water. Leopards aren’t very appreciative of storms and can often be seen on the trees, sheltering under the broad leaves of Teak trees.

Tigers, who are opportunistic hunters, use the thick undergrowth to their advantage and move with stealth to sneak up on unsuspecting prey.

Forests are essentially giant sponges. They soak up all the water in the monsoons and release it slowly during drier times. For our own water security, it is of utmost importance to save the tiger and more importantly, the forests that it inhibits.

From being drenched head to toe, to jeeps shifting to four-wheel drive on slushy roads, to the freshness in the moist air and some really hot tea back at the camps, I thoroughly enjoy my monsoon safaris.