Stay SafeWhile India is a gem during the monsoon, the risk of water-borne infections may increase in the wet season. Take all necessary precaution, particularly with raw foods and drinking water.
India is a veritable treasure trove of destinations for all kinds of tourists. The winter months of November to March are popular for traveling within the country, since the climate is more agreeable. However, if you want to enjoy the rain on your travels, there are countless places for that as well.
The monsoon rains bring about some much-needed greenery to the mostly semiarid landscape, and also bring about a drop in two crucial factors: temperature and hotel prices. After the stifling summer, the temperature drops to pleasant levels in the monsoon, though it can get quite muggy occasionally. Also, since the monsoon is considered the off-season in the country's winter-centric tourist timetable, hotels lower their price, and accommodation can be obtained even in locations that tend to get booked months in advance.
Here's a list of some of the best monsoon destinations in the country.
Indian Destinations to Visit in Monsoon
Kerala, called "God's Own Country", is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Its backwaters, situated on the western side of the state, are among the best tourist destinations in India
, and are also great during the monsoon. But whereas the coast is a year-round tourist hotspot, attracting travelers from both within India and abroad, Kerala's mountainous eastern side really comes alive in the rain. The eastern part of Kerala, which includes wildlife-rich regions, such as the Periyar National Park, is dotted with various tea plantations. Munnar is arguably the best known, and is a popular getaway. The tea terraces can be toured with a guide, and the process of manufacturing tea can be understood in greater detail. The idyllic environs also add to the charm of the town. It is also quite close to other south Indian tourist hotspots, such as the Anaimalai Hills and Periyar National Park.
Munnar is about 130 km (81 mi) from Kochi, which is a major city in southern India, and is extensively connected by rail, road, and air to Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, etc.
Goa is one of the most popular travel destinations for foreign travelers coming to India. The tourism industry in India's smallest state is centered around its spectacular beaches, but there's also historical and natural wonders to marvel at. Goa is situated at a nexus between the coastline and mountains, and enjoys the best of both―the ever-popular Arabian Sea to the west, the snaking roads in the Western Ghats to the east. Being an erstwhile Portuguese colony, Goa also has several artifacts from the European rule, and the culture is an indiscernible mixture of Indian and Portuguese. The temples in the interior of Goa and the Christian monuments in Old Goa are best visited in the rains, when hotel prices in this normally-expensive destination drop, and you can enjoy the other, equally enjoyable, side of Goa in leisure.
Goa's capital, Panaji, is connected by rail to major cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi, etc., while the only airport in Goa, Dabolim Airport, is 30 km from the capital city.
Karnataka is a state blessed with ample natural beauty in the form of the long coastline to the west, rivers such as the Kaveri, and lush forests such as Bandipur and Anshi. The Coorg district lies in the hilly southern half of the state, nestled in the Western Ghats. It is famous for its coffee plantations, which produce the Coffea robusta
variety. Like the tea farms in Munnar or Darjeeling, the coffee plantations in Coorg are a tourist hotspot, thanks to the guided tours and, of course, tasting. The various hill stations in the district are a popular getaway thanks to the sheer natural beauty of the location. Many waterfalls are found in the district, such as Abbey Falls and Iruppu Falls, as well as the Nagarhole National Park. The origin of the river Kaveri also lies in Coorg, at Talakaveri. The Dubare elephant camp, where you can ride and even bathe elephants, is a notable tourist destination.
Madikeri, the headquarters of this picturesque district, is connected by road to Mangalore and Mysore. It does not have a railway station or airport, and Mysore and Mangalore are the best options. If you live in the neighboring states, driving there in your own vehicle is a journey of a lifetime.
Take a guess where this one is located. Yup, no prizes for guessing―it's the Western Ghats. A popular weekend getaway from Mumbai and Pune―the two major cities in Maharashtra―Matheran is situated between the two, and is one of the few well-developed hill stations on the western face of the Western Ghats. The USP of Matheran is a simple retreat to nature, and its beautiful surroundings. It is an eco-sensitive region, and, despite relying on metropolitan traffic for its commercial sustenance, it is the only vehicle-free hill station in Asia; the parking is a few kilometers away, and you can walk or hire a horse to cover the remainder.
Mumbai is connected to Matheran through a combination of broad gauge and narrow gauge trains. The latter starts from Neral, and is similar to the 'toy trains' found in Darjeeling and Nilgiri; it is under consideration for being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The northeastern states, called the Seven Sisters, are one of the few regions in India where the annual cycle of seasons doesn't really exist, and rains persist all year round. In the monsoons, though, the rainfall is beyond belief. This is due to the presence of the Garo-Khasi hills, which trap warm air form the Bay of Bengal and concentrate it within the region. Meghalaya is chief among the seven states, with two places in the state claiming to be the wettest on Earth. Mawsynram, situated about 65 km from Meghalaya's capital, Shillong, is arguably the wettest place in the world, with an average annual rainfall of 467 inches. Its forests and waterfalls are a treat to the eyes, and are definitely worth a place on your travel bucket list. The rest of Northeast India is better visited in the winter months, where the lack of the daily showers will help you enjoy more of the local tourist spots and activities.
Shillong is connected by road and rail to Guwahati, the largest city in Northeast India. Guwahati is connected by road, rail, and air to major Indian cities such as Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, etc.
These were the more conventional monsoon destinations, in the sense that they are (largely) only enjoyable in the rain. However, the unique topography of India means that while the rest of India soaks in the monsoon rains, the arrival of summer opens up the route to northern regions such as Ladakh. Covered in snow for most of the year, Ladakh and northern reaches of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh start to thaw in May, opening up to tourists in the monsoon months of June-October.
Here are two famous destinations that can only be visited in the monsoon months, but are not famous for the monsoon showers.
Valley of Flowers
Located in western Uttarakhand, the valley of flowers is a national park famous for its alpine meadows. After thawing around April, the valley starts to bloom with endemic flora. The valley is at its verdant best in August-September, at the peak of the monsoon season in the rest of India.
The valley can be reached by a trek, starting from Joshimath, which can be reached by road from Delhi or Dehradun. Rail network is absent in the upper Himalayas, and the nearest airport is in Dehradun. Accommodation is not available (and is illegal) inside the national park, and can be sought in the nearby town of Ghangaria.
The motorcyclist's dream, Ladakh is a bewilderingly beautiful land. Its many lakes, including the Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri, are the highlights in a region that also contains one of the highest motorable roads in the world, at Khardung La. The Nubra Valley and the Zanskar Valley are worthy detours, and the Leh-Manali highway, featured on Ice Road Truckers
, is an adventure in itself.
The capital of Ladakh, Leh, can be reached by the Manali-Leh highway, or from Srinagar. Leh can also be reached by air from Srinagar and New Delhi.
An important factor to keep in mind while planning your monsoon vacation is that certain regions in Ladakh and Northeast India are quite close to the border with China and, in the case of the latter, Bangladesh, and require permits for even Indian tourists. These permits are usually granted without any hassles, though it's recommended to procure them in time.
The monsoon season offers a varied array of destinations in India. Decide exactly what you want from your monsoon vacation, and, rest assured, she will deliver. Choose wisely, plan well!