India is the only millionaire. the One land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.
- Mark Twain
India is a land of many different cultures, traditions, and people - the only country in the world that portrays unity in such cultural diversity.
Bordered in the north by lofty mountain ranges and covered by beautiful tropical rain forests, plateaus and mesmerising beaches in the south, India is truly a sight for sore eyes!
As you travel from north to south and from east to west of the country, you will experience a plethora of different climates, divided largely into hot [summers], wet [monsoons] and cold [winter].
Rain, rain, everywhere
Monsoon in India is the all-important binding force that links the summer and the winter months.
By early June, the first signs of monsoon become visible towards the south of India and cover the entire northern regions by July. It is during this time, that the hot, dusty and dry weather is replaced by wet, cool and humid weather, depending on which part of country you are in and the amount of rain in that region. The monsoon rains are extremely important for nourishing the dry lands after the summer months, and it is a boon for the farmers who long for these rains in just the right proportion. The falls and waterways receive a surge of new life and are replenished during the season.
Monsoons are one of the most romantic and extremely liked seasons in India. After the first showers, nature seems to be at its best — the dancing leaves on the trees, the bushes and shrubs as well as the birds and squirrels resting on the trees. They all come alive, fresh and full of life. The aroma of the fresh wet earth fills the atmosphere and lingers on as if reminding you to live in the moment and enjoy life.
No matter how tense, upset or sad you may be, the monsoon rains have the magical ability to take away all your sadness and uplift your mood. Monsoons bring with them a refreshing coolness which soothes the mind, body, and soul.
If you are one of those people who enjoy getting wet in the rain, or simply love to admire and experience the freshly bathed nature in all its glory, you must consider planning a trip this monsoon. However, before making plans for your visit, you must make detailed enquiries about climatic conditions and the amount of rains predicted in that area.
Kerala is, undoubtedly, one of the most sought-after and popular tourist destinations. Its capital, Thiruvananthapuram, is replete with true natural beauty, thanks to its long shoreline and a mix of some of the most enchanting jungles, picnic spots, beaches, backwater stretches, waterfalls and culturally-rich, historic monuments. Kerala is rightly known as the Venice of India. It has some of the most luxurious resorts. Your must-see list for Kerala should include the Kovalam Beach, the Napier Museum, Padmanabha Swamy Temple and the Veli Tourist Village. Heavy rainfall: June-September.
How to reach there: There are three airports in the state: Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. There are around 200 railway stations in Kerala connecting most of the places in the state to places in other parts of India and inside the state. Long-distance express trains connect important places in the state to places outside Kerala like Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. An extensive network of metalled roads connects most of the places in the state. National highways 47, 17, and 49 connect Kerala with other parts of India.
Also known as Udhagamandalam, Ooty is the capital of the Nilgiris District in Tamil Nadu. A picturesque place, Ooty, often referred to as the "Queen of Hill Stations," is also one of the most preferred tourist resorts in India. The lush green grasslands, the wonderful blue hills and the sprawling tea gardens will leave you awe-struck. As you marvel at the natural beauty here, you can also take some time out and visit the Botanical Garden, the Doddabetta Peak, and the Pykara Falls.
How to reach there: The nearest airport to Ooty is at a distance of about 88 km and is located in Coimbatore. By rail, Ooty railway station is merely two km from the City Centre and the other railway station is 46 km away at Mettupalayam. There is also a toy train that connects Ooty with Mettupalayam and Coonoor, another famous hill station. Though it is not really the fastest way to get there, you can the enjoy scenic beauty all along the way.
Situated on the western coast, Goa shares its borders with Mumbai and Karnataka. First time as well as regular visitors to India make it a point to spend some wonderful moments in Goa, enjoying its lovely beaches and colourful culture. If you love the rains, then Goa is the place to be this monsoon. The list of "must-dos" while in Goa is long and very exciting. This small, yet culturally rich, state is a haven for those who love spending time on the beach, and being one with nature! Some of the most famous beaches include Baga, Calangute, Dona Paula, Miramar, Palolem, and Vagator. Enjoy exploring the dense forests, wildlife sanctuaries, and experiencing the magical river cruises!
How to reach there: Goa's international airport is Dabolim, 29 km from the capital, Panaji. Most domestic airlines operate here apart from chartered private airlines from UK and Germany. Reaching Goa by train is easy from Mumbai [490 km], Bangalore [430 km], and New Delhi [1874 km]. Goa's two main stations are Margao and Vasco da Gama. Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka state transport buses operate from Panaji. You can find buses as well as rent-a-car services in Goa. An interesting mode of conveyance in Goa is the motorcycle taxi. Unique to this state, these "taxis" carry only one passenger.
At an altitude of 690 m, Amboli is a beautiful hill resort enveloped in the southern range of the Sahyadri Hills. This picturesque hill station in Maharashtra receives a good amount of rainfall from June to October. If you visit Amboli during the last leg of the monsoons, you can witness the Nangardas Waterfalls in all its glory. Other sights to see include the Amboli Ghat, Mahadev Gad, the lush green hills and the plains, the Hiranya Keshi and Narayan Gad.
How to reach there: The nearest airport is Belgaum, 64 km. By rail, from Sawantwadi, it is 28 km. Mumbai-Amboli, 549 km. Pune-Amboli, 390 km. Ratnagiri-Amboli, 215 km. State Transport and luxury buses run from Vengurla, Belgaum, Sawantwadi and Ratnagiri to Amboli.
Chikmagalur is a scenic beauty situated about 250 km from Bangalore. Its beautiful hills, valleys and streams will win you over and make you feel one with nature. While in Chikmagalur, you can go trekking [subject to the intensity of rainfall], explore mountain ranges, or simply experience the calmness, beauty and serenity of this hilly district. Places you can visit close by include Kemmanagundi, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, and Kudremukh. During the monsoons, Chikmagalur is like Heaven on Earth.
How to reach there: The nearest airport is Mangalore, 150 km from Chikmagalur. Bangalore airport is 250 km away. Chikmagalur is not reachable by train from other Indian cities. However, Kadur is the closest railway station located 40 km from Chikmagalur. There are buses every 30 minutes from Bangalore. During the weekends, these buses run full and getting a ticket can be a bit of a problem unless you book them in advance. You can reach Chikmagalur by road from Bangalore. The fastest route is via Hassan on NH 48.
Lonavla and Khandala
Lonavla and Khandala are twin hill stations situated 110 km from Mumbai on the Mumbai-Pune Highway. Tourists flock these two lush green beauties, especially during the monsoons when they are at their best. While here, you can also visit the Khandala Ghat, Visapur fortress, the Bhaja and Bedsa caves, Tungarli Lake, and the Bhushi Dam.
How to reach there: The nearest airport is Pune, 64 km from Lonavala. As Lonavala is on the main railway line between Mumbai and Pune, all express trains plying between the two cities stop here.
Khandala is well connected with Mumbai and Pune by road [travel time 2? hours]. However, it takes about four hours to reach Mumbai from Khandala. Buses shuttle between Khandala and Lonavala [15 minutes].
Matheran, a small, beautiful hill station about 100 km from Mumbai, is situated on the Western Ghats. There's a lot you can do while in Matheran - admire its natural beauty, visit the Charlotte Lake, the Panthers' Caves and the Paymaster Park. If shopping is on your mind, you can visit the Main Bazaar for all local specialties.
Besides these, there are many more beautiful places that you can visit every monsoon: Jodhpur, Agra, Dalhousie, Dharamshala, and Shimla.
The rains have the power to make everything look fresh, new and full of life.
However, make it a point to enquire about climatic conditions before planning your trip as landslides and floods are not uncommon in many areas. Make sure too to carry umbrellas, rain coats, including first-aid kit, medicines, for a safe and enjoyable monsoon trip.
How to reach there: Matheran is about 100 km from Mumbai and 70 km from Thane. You can board a train to Neral from Mumbai and then take the famous toy train to reach Matheran.
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