Top monsoon getaways in India

Top monsoon getaways in India
Photo Credit: Sanjiv Valsan

Top 10 destinations to explore anew as the monsoon picks up in India

Lalitha Sridhar
July 24 , 2015
07 Min Read

Shantiniketan’s seasonal festivals are unique and special and the Tagorean town celebrates the monsoon as a time to renew and rejuvenate. If the Vriksharopana and Halakarshana festivals centre on tree-planting and ploughing, with music, singing and Vedic chanting adding to the hopeful air, Varshamangal is all about the rainy season itself. All three occur in August. September brings the Silpotshava exhibition of arts and crafts from enterprises in Shantiniketan-Sriniketan. Don’t forget to stop by the khoai, which is the name Tagore gave to the undulating laterite land formations here: they look especially lovely with rainwater streaming over them. Visitors bestow the same affection upon Shantiniketan’s monsoon festivities, and their numbers rise by up to ten times on festival days. (



There’s Hampi and then there’s Hampi in the rains, when every stony nook and old crevice explodes in sprightly green, the kalyanis (water tanks) brim over to rippling gorgeousness, and the Tungabhadra rises swiftly and breathtakingly. Once the Sanapur reservoir nearby fills up and the river floods its banks, some guest houses are forced to shut shop, daily ferries stop plying, and Virupapura Gadde and Anegundi can only be reached by road. It helps that the key sites and monuments are on easily accessible level ground (no bouldering, hikes, or hilly drives). Even better, only a handful of people are around to enjoy these stunning vistas. Observe the saalu mandapas near the Krishna Bazaar that collapsed in an evening of heavy rain recently; ASI has promised to restore them soon. (


Oddly enough, whereas Mumbai often gets messy and waterlogged in the rains but still loves the monsoons with gusto (enormous waves crashing upon Marine Drive, seas of umbrellas, bun-maska and Irani chai), the loveliness of monumental Delhi and its many well-cordoned ruins, ensconced in fabulously kept infrastructure, get overlooked. Monsoon in Delhi is a time to rejoice the deliverence from intense heat, so pack an umbrella, slip on rain-friendly footwear and start with the Purana Qila. If you enjoy that, head next for Humayun’s Tomb, Shahjahanabad, Ferozshah Kotla and the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, to which it’s better to go as a group because it’s a dispersed area with a thin population even on regular days. We dare say you’ll discover a delightful side to Delhi. (

Have you been to the Sun Temple in the monsoon? Konark’s coastal-tropical weather normally doesn’t make it easy for sweaty visitors to linger except in the winter. The monsoon not only makes it easier but more visually beautiful. This wasn’t possible even a couple of decades ago, when the ASI was struggling to stop rampant pillaging and was racing to restore the crumbling ruins. Back then, a trip in the monsoon meant negotiating treacherous pools of mud everywhere. No more. Arrive very early in the morning for the iconic sunrise experience and, more often than not, you will find the expansive courtyards, tall walls, and the dark stones of the ‘black pagoda’ washed clean and somehow sharper, especially the eastern view. Another good time to visit is after sunset, when the temple is bathed in the glow of focus lamps. If you are lucky, it will begin raining just then, the gently billowing drizzle ethereal in the diffused light. (


Take the Kirandul Passenger from Vizag to Araku Valley at least one way—its scenic route is an engineering marvel in the Waltair Division of the East Coast Railway. Incidentally, Shimliguda station, perched 997m above sea level, was the highest in India till J&K’s Qazigund was built, though it remains the highest broad gauge station. The train plies at an average speed of 33kmph and doesn’t have any air-conditioned coaches. But there is a first class so it’s old-fashioned rail travel with passengers cognisant of the season and countryside (plus 58 tunnels and 84 bridges) making it a fantastic introduction to monsoon in the valley (also its ideal season). Always remember to keep your camera handy! Most of Araku’s numerous pretty waterfalls spring up nameless in the rains, but you should be able to easily ask your way to the gorgeous Thatiguda, Katiki and Chaaparai cascades. (

Ooty is 2,240m above sea level, which makes it marvellously chilly even in the height of the southern summer. It’s also that rare hill station where most quality hotels (even mid-range) offer real fireplaces in the rooms. Then the rains arrive and drive temperatures down further. It’s the best time of the year to cosy up in a nice hotel and enjoy quality time with the family. When you do venture out, take the short toy train trip from Ooty to Coonoor and back, and explore particularly monsoonfriendly scenic spots—the 6th mile and the 9th mile, and the Pykara lake. Or simply sit out in garden chairs to catch squirrels and sparrows make the most of the sunshine between the rain. (

Coorg, being a hilly district, is often perceived as a classic summer getaway. But many people land up to discover that it’s disconcertingly warm, with temperatures from March to May going up to 35Ë? Celsius. In the monsoons, the plantations get misty, and there’s a distinct nip in the air, the Abbey, Mallali and Irupu falls swell up dangerously, and fireplaces get stoked when the weather doesn’t let up. The roads are variable, but this doesn’t deter bikers, cyclists and hikers from making the most of the seasonal solitude that brings them here. Hot idli-sambhar and filter coffee add to the experience. (

The MTDC resort at Ganapatipule is a triumph of location—simple and tidy rooms set upon a palm-fringed beach, which offer unstinting views of the sort of water-sky interplay that only the monsoon can deliver. It’s hard to photograph (and describe!) the power of this seascape as low-hanging clouds advance in minutes over the water, there’s a heavenly display of light and shadows over breaking waves, and the mood of the sea darkens visibly as we watch from the safety of the pristine shore. When the drenching begins, retreat to your room, leave the door open, pull back the curtains, and call for chai-pakoras.(


Mumbai celebrates the monsoon like noother Indian metro, and this love has expandedto include rainy day funspots likeMatheran and Lonavla, which are lovely nodoubt, but fewer folk visit Malshej Ghat,especially from the start to the middle ofthe season. Waterfalls and smaller rivuletsof cascading fresh water are already formingat every turn of the road, their ebb andflow by turns soft and roaring, dependingon the quantum of rain. The KonkanKada overhang, shaped like a serpent’shood, looks positively mysterious in themist. And the swirling clouds and droppingtemperature are best enjoyed with ahot omelette whisked at a roadside stall,washed down with a cup of steaming tea.(

Long before high-end hotels and plush spas turned Ayurveda into a must-do vacation experience as tourism boomed in Kerala, the Arya Vaidya Sala in Kotakkal was dispensing therapies with no-frills seriousness, which is what it continues to do to this day. The hospital and health care centre is managed by a pioneering not-for profit trust that established quality control practices over a century ago and has grown a hundred times over since. It’s that time of the year when we remind you that Ayurveda works best in the monsoon—most toxins accumulate in the summer months. The cleansing spell of rains bring relief, washing the air clean and unclogging moistened pores. KAVS is one of the best places to experience this transformative process. Be sure to book ahead.(

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