Monsoons. The word conjures up contrasting images. Piping hot coffee and hot snacks, and flooded roads and traffic jams, children dancing joyously in the rain, and potholes getting wider and overflowing drains. While the monsoons are mostly a much awaited event for the sheer beauty it brings, it is also a dreaded time for pedestrians and getting around in the city. Little wonder then that many of us balk at the idea of traveling during the monsoons. It need not be so. Here is a personal list of our 5 favourite places where you can enjoy the lushness of the monsoons in India. No, Kerala is not one of them.
Cherrapunji, the wettest place on earth
Cherrapunji, pic courtesy Arshiya Urjiva Bose
Where better to see the rains than the wettest place on earth? Contrary to common perception, Cherrapunji is a must-visit during the rainy season when rain pours non-stop in sheets. It requires a bit of planning and a readiness to get wet but it’s a treat for sore eyes. The magnificent living root bridge, the jaw-dropping Nohkalikai Falls and emerald green valleys amongst other sights add to the wonder of this place.
Butter tea and other things in magical Leh
Butter Tea, pic courtesy Serious Eats
Leh is magical any time of the year. But it’s even more so during the monsoons. The white water rafting is stupendous as the rivers swell with rainwater and rush with strong currents. The treks are challenging but worth the stunning views that they offer. The Hemis Festival in June where colorful, masked dancers sway to music is an unforgettable spectacle. But the highlight for us is something as simple as drinking hot, butter tea watching the chilly rain from the window.
Rain in the colorful Valley of Flowers
Valley of Flowers, pic courtesy Amazing India Blog
The Valley of Flowers is a fairyland opens up once every year. In the monsoons, this green valley turns into a color riot as flowers big and small start to bloom. As the rain, that ranges from a gentle mist to icy sheets, falls silently on the flowers, the valley looks like a brightly woven carpet.
Festivals in the rain in Goa
San Joao festival, pic courtesy Daijiworld
While everyone flocks to Goa to experience its sun drenched beaches and sit in the shade of swaying palms, there is another, lesser known side to this sandy paradise. Goa in the monsoons is a thing of beauty. Enjoy the isolation of usually crowded beaches. Take advantage of massive discounts at all hotels and guesthouses. Go fishing and surfing in the huge waves that form at this time. Most importantly, experience some of its quirky festivals like the fertility feast of Sao Joao where men jump into overflowing wells to fish out bottles of feni.
Lush green meadows of Pushkar
Pushkar: pic courtesy 4ocima via Flickr
Yes, you heard it right. The usually dry, barren, dust bowl that is Pushkar undergoes a magical transformation after a few weeks of incessant rain during the monsoons. Gone is the dry air and dust balls. The town now wears a green coat everywhere and it’s a pleasure to walk along its ponds, fields, and roads, snacking on local food and drink along the way. Don’t miss the songs of the peacocks that emerge, adding to the overall charm.