The four months of the south-west monsoon transform the Indian landscape, bringing mist and lush greenery to a parched country. It’s perfect weather for a long weekend drive to explore new places and old favourites. The monsoon is also off-season in most places, meaning there are great discounts and you may have the place to yourself. Discover something new this year with these offbeat monsoon destinations:
Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
Just over five hours’ drive from Delhi, Corbett comes alive in the monsoon, with hanging mist and lush greenery. The park has very few visitors in this season, as most zones except Jhirna are closed, which means you can explore the wilds in peace. The monsoon is also the only time you can try rafting here. Jeep/elephant safaris with expert guides allow the visitor to take in the park’s remarkable wildlife, including boar, antelope, rare birds and tigers.
Bishnupur, West Bengal
About four hours’ drive from Kolkata, Bishnupur was the seat of a 7th-century dynasty and is renowned for its cultural heritage and magnificent 16th-century temple architecture. The monsoon here runs from August-October, and the water leaves the temples with an unusual glow that goes well with the lush countryside. The town also boasts of magnificent crafts (including a renowned school of art), woven silk saris and a fine musical gharana.
About 90 minutes’ drive from Bangalore, Antharagange has ancient volcanic rock formations filled with caves and perpetual springs. It’s a great spot for adrenaline junkies, with trekking, hiking, rappelling, cave explorations and rock climbing opportunities. The place looks especially spectacular in the monsoon, with rich greenery in the surrounding area.
About three hours from Pune and five hours from Mumbai, Tapola is unspoiled, with spectacular monsoon greenery. The monsoon enhances the amazing view of the Koyna Dam, one of the state’s largest. The Kas Pathar area blooms with fields of magnificent flowers in the monsoon, and the lake is extremely popular with adventure-lovers for its rafting, speed-boating etc.
About six hours’ drive from Delhi, the monsoon mist adds mystique to Bhimtal’s lake and forests, with their colourful birds, butterflies, monkeys and other wildlife. Dotted with terraced rice paddies and colourful house and lovely colonial architecture, Bhimtal turns lush green in the rain, and it’s much less crowded than Nainital. You could hike around the lakes, take in the natural beauty from the many vantage points and even swim in the lake.
It’s a perennial favourite, but the monsoon is Goa’s best-kept secret. Tourists tend to avoid beach holidays in the rain, but those who brave the drive will enjoy a quiet and peaceful vacation with great hotel discounts. The sea is too choppy to swim, but the dark clouds and sea offer spectacular views, as does the verdant countryside with streams and waterfalls. Trekking groups can enjoy unspoiled forest paths in places like Chorla Ghats, Cotigao and the spectacular Dudhsagar Falls.