Dark clouds, pitter-patter, that heavenly earthy scent when rain falls on the scorching ground and finally a heavy downpour. As the country welcomes the monsoon, here are five places that are spectacular and charming during the rainy season.
1. Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand
If nature had to pick its favourite child, it would be the Valley of Flowers, best visited during the monsoon season when roads and hiking paths in Garhwal are at their treacherous best. Part of the vast Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, the breathtaking sight of a profusion of multi-hued wild flowers carpeting the valley is worth every slip, slide and ache. You could trek or opt for a chopper ride from Gobind Ghat to Ghangria for an incredibly invigorating hike into the beauty of this Valley, discovered accidentally by a British mountaineer.
Although it sounds strange, a monsoon holiday in Goa is sheer bliss, provided you aren’t looking to swim in the ocean. The dark menacing waves on the Arabian Sea can leave you spellbound, while away from the beach, the blinding green countryside with streams and waterfalls awaits you. And you won’t miss out on any fun. Even during the rainy season, numerous rain dance parties, grinds and monsoon parties are organised.
There are many trekking expeditions organised to chase the glorious monsoon through the forests and hills and across waterfalls and streams at Chorla Ghats, Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. One of the highest cascades in the country, Dudhsagar Waterfalls is a spectacular sight during the rains. The waters appear almost milky white, and it is from this phenomenon that the falls gets its name. They are located in Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary.
3. Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra
Even the worst detractors of the monsoons would love to romance the rains in Malshej Ghat, where the hills come alive with watery vigour. The lush countryside glows with emerald luminescence, an earthy aroma of the forest hangs heavy in the moist air and innumerable waterfalls suddenly spring to life, rushing wantonly down the rain-washed mountainsides and infusing freshness into an already vivid landscape. To savour this moody bounty of nature (without drenching yourself!), embark on a drive in these hills the moment you see the dark clouds roll in over the southwestern horizon.
4. Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya
Meghalaya – the ‘abode of clouds’ – is a cool, wet and pine fresh mountain state set on dramatic horseshoes of rocky cliffs. Cherrapunjee is one of the world’s wettest places and the region is home to cascading waterfalls, long caves and fascinating root bridges. The grassy moors surrounding Cherrapunjee justify Meghalaya’s over-played ‘Scotland of the East’ tourist office soubriquet. Much more impressive is the series of ‘grand canyon’ valleys that plunge into deep lush chasms of tropical forest sprayed by a succession of seasonally inspiring waterfalls. The Nohkalikai Falls are particularly dramatic, especially in the monsoon when their capacity increases 20-fold. You can see them easily enough without quite entering the official viewpoint, 4.4km southwest of Sohra market.
5. Backwaters of Kerala
The quintessential Kerala experience lies in the green backwaters of Alappuzha (Alleppey), Kumarakom and Kollam (Quilon). But this becomes more spectacular when grey and dark clouds loom over the lake. While the channels of Alappuzha and Kumarakom open out into the massive Vembanad Lake, the Kollam water bodies congregate at Ashtamudi Lake. As you float past palm-fringed canals, you can glimpse vignettes of village life along the banks from a houseboat.