From the rain-lashed Konkan Coast, to the wet and wild Northeast, the country has no dearth of choices when it comes to monsoon destinations.
Each year, at the end the summer, monsoon winds envelope the country with their wet, wide arms, bringing in incessant rainfall, lightning and thunderstorms over a period of three months. From the beginning of June to the end of August, the country turns into a lush, green paradise. From the backwaters of Kerala to the misty mountains of Uttarakhand, from the rain-soaked streets of Mumbai to the rolling meadows of the Northeast, there are plenty of places, where the monsoon can be enjoyed in its fullest glory. Today’s Traveller has rounded up the best places where the wet season can be enjoyed to the hilt.
KERALA God’s own country comes alive in the rain. The backwaters, with their labyrinthine network of brackish lagoons, coconut trees and rustic huts, beckon the traveller to experience the ethereal play of the dark clouds. This is also the time when traditional Ayurvedic texts recommend healing treatments to rejuvenate the body and the soul.
Places to Visit Munnar: The emerald-green tea gardens of Kerala hold immense promise for travel lovers. In the morning, mist covers the hill slopes of the region, while the beautiful and ferocious waterfalls nearby provide the perfect opportunity for an outdoor trek or a hike. The best part is that hotels are crowd-free and the rates are discounted. Alleppey: Alleppey is divine during the monsoon season. The backwaters are filled to the brim, while the vegetation, nurtured by the soothing touch of the rains, turns lush green. The best way to explore the region is atop a houseboat, where you can even enjoy pungent fish curries cooked in authentic Kerala style. Wayanad: Bountiful rains, greenery and exotic flora and fauna make Wayanad a must-visit place during the monsoon. The Neelakurinji flowers, that bloom once in 12 years, are a special treat.
GOA This pleasure paradise of India is great in the monsoon, although tourists prefer the winter season. Off-season discounts, virtually empty beaches, availability of rooms and lush greenery are some of the reasons why you should visit Goa during the monsoon. On the flipside, the beach shacks are often dismantled and there are no water sports available on the beaches. However, outdoor adventures like hiking, adventure trips and nature trails are available aplenty.
Places to visit Dudhsagar Waterfalls: Goa’s pride, the Dudhsagar Waterfalls, is at its best during the monsoon season. Perched atop the Western Ghats, the 600-m falls provides the perfect opportunity for a day trip. Take the train in the morning, hike up the mountainous trail and soak in the beauty of the surrounding areas Beaches: The rain-swept beaches of Baga, Calagunte, Candolim and Arambol have a different charm in the monsoon than they do in winter. The beaches are free from throngs of tourists and strikingly clean. Swimming might be prohibited, but long afternoon strolls are great. Some of the shacks may open in the weekend, where you can catch a beer or two, along with golden fried prawns.
MAHARASHTRA Nature comes alive during the wet season in Maharashtra. The rain-swept Western Ghats, the lush vegetation of the countryside, the beautiful Konkan coast, all throw up captivating vistas and challenging trails. Choice places to visit in Maharashtra include Matheran, Amboli, Lonavla and Khandala.
Places to visit Matheran: India’s smallest hill station is a lush paradise, covered with thickets of evergreen trees. Its proximity to many cities in Western India means that the hill station can be easily reached via car over the weekend. Alexander Point, Charlotte Lake, One Tree Hill Point and Hart Point are some of the major tourist attractions. Lonavla and Khandala: Charming waterfalls, lush green vegetation and the rugged mountains of the Western Ghats make Lonavla and Khandala perfect weekend retreats. Monsoon time is especially pleasant at these places, as the rain-drenched mountains come alive in all theirs glory. Mumbai: Monsoon in Mumbai often receives bad press for waterlogging and torrential rains. However, beyond the hyperbole, Mumbai is a great city destination to enjoy the rain. The rain-swept beaches, the quaint streets of the old quarters, the plentiful options for street food, are some of the highlights of the monsoon.
Uttarakhand The rains reach Northern India usually in the last week of June and July. The hills become verdant and green, while the streets become wet and shiny from the first spell of rain. Hill stations like Almora, Mussoorie and Lansdowne are some of the most beautiful places to visit during the monsoon season.
Places to visit Almora: Also known as the ‘Switzerland of India,’ Almora is blessed with panoramic views of the majestic Himalayas, charming pine forests and a range of exotic flora and fauna species. Valley of Flowers: Located in Northern Chamoli, Valley of Flowers is known for its rare breed of orchids, and animals like snow leopard, musk deer, brown bear and blue sheep. Great for hiking and trekking, this difficult-to-access valley holds great promise for those willing to tread the extra mile. Mussoorie: Perched atop a hill, Mussoorie is the crowning jewel in Uttarakhand’s tourism landscape. The rolling hills, lush vegetation, the quaint streets of the hill station, the charming cafes – all create a pleasant atmosphere, allowing you to enjoy the monsoon in its full glory.
The Northeast The crowning jewel in India’s monsoon destination is the Northeast. The states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Manipur are at their most beautiful state during the rains. The rain-washed hills, the verdant expanse of the lush green vegetation, the distant growl of thunder in the cloudy sky, the manicured tea gardens – all add up to a great experiential travel during the monsoon.
Places to visit Meghalaya: From the picturesque town of Shillong to the wettest places on earth, like Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram, Meghalaya offers an out-of-this-world experience when it comes to monsoon travel. Explore the cascading beauty of the Seven Sisters Fall or the dark, cavernous Arwah Caves. Walk down the Roots Bridge for a breathtaking view of the surrounding forest area. Nagaland: The largely monsoon climate of the state means that it remains wet throughout the year. Kohima, Dimapur and Kohonoma are places that offer a range of experiences – from museum-watching to outdoor activities. Manipur: This charming state with its friendly people is a must-visit place when it comes to travel. Rain or no rain, Imphal and its surrounding areas, Shirui Hills, Zeilad Lake and Khoupum Valley are the main attractions.