Monsoon travel in India has picked up in the last decade. What helps is that there is no dearth of monsoon travel destinations in India. Many people ask us which is the best place to visit in monsoon. This post is in deference to them.
What is monsoon tourism?
Most people travel in winters. But we are huge suckers for monsoon travel. After long dry summer, there is suddenly the moist smell of the wet earth, the sparkling greenery, the fresh air and respite from heat. There is no worrying about the sweat if you are out in the sun. There is no more the need for constant air-conditioning. There is just the wanderlust and you…and the occasional chai pakora at roadside dhabas. Sheer bliss we say.
No wonder monsoon travel in India has picked up in the last decade. What helps is that there is no dearth of monsoon travel destinations in India. In fact, there are many travellers who wait for the season to see the peacock dance as they say. Given that this could be a lean tourism period, many find travelling during monsoon way more affordable than in peak seasons.
Places to visit in monsoon from Delhi
Many people ask us which is the best place to visit in monsoon? To answer this question, we are spoilt for choice. But for the sake of brevity, here’s a list of our favorite places to visit in monsoon from Delhi: As and when we come across a new spot, it will come in here, so do keep visiting.
Lansdowne is a hill town in Uttarakhand. Being the centre of Garhwal Rifles, Lansdowne is maintained by the cantonment board (read cleanliness, orderliness and efficient administration). It is still pristinely green and quiet. We happened to visit Lansdowne multiple times, always in monsoon. When it drizzles here, apart from the mind-blowing moist earth smell, the trees look freshly painted green from the factory and it drives any nature lover crazy. Plus, there is something about this place, the rain transforms into the most amazing mist. The fog around makes it one of the most romantic getaways from Delhi one can ever imagine.
How to reach Lansdowne
We are big suckers for slow travel. We have always taken the overnight train to Lansdowne. We have dropped at Kotdwar and then a hired cab or jeep would drive us uphill to Lansdowne. But Lansdowne is approximately 246 km from Delhi. If you are used to hill driving, you can cover this distance in about 7 hours. Another option is to take a bus from ISBT, Delhi and drop at Kotdwar. Thereafter, you can take a local bus or a taxi for the uphill ride.
Where to stay at Lansdowne
There are not too many great boarding options here. We love the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam guesthouse very close to the Mall Road. This is basic but cosy and the food is home-cooked variety, so no complains. In fact, they have a separate cottage too with a patch of garden in front. We just love that.
Things to do in Lansdowne
Tip-in-Top or Tiffin Top, the summit of Lansdowne- You can walk or trek up to this point to get a bird’s eye view of the city. Don’t forget your umbrella since it may start pouring any minute.
St. Mary’s Church – Near Tip-in-Top is a British-era church. Complete with turrets, stained-glass windows and a Gothic architecture, this is one of the oldest churches in India. It looks straight out of a fairytale book.
Bulla Taal – This is a man-made lake, complete with boating facilities, a hanging bridge and gaggle of geese for effect. To top it, to make this experience surreal, nature did her two bits worth and filled the place with fog. We do not have words to describe the beauty of this place the evening when we visited. We can only draw parallels with Disney Pixar’s recent animation Jungle Book.
Tarakeshwar Shiv Temple – This is about an hour’s drive from Lansdowne. An idyllic Shiv temple, it is tucked among deodar trees and is a photographer’s delight. An array of bells hangs on the path to this temple and makes the place look like a zone of installation art.
Morni is a hill station in Panchkula, one among the few in Haryana. It lies just beyond Chandigarh just at the foot of the elevation for Kasauli, Shoghi, Kufri, Shimla and other hill stations of Himachal Pradesh. Pines crowned the hilltops in Morni and trees like oak, neem and jacaranda cover the slopes. The area is steep and when it rains, little streams start flowing down the soil to the concrete road. The fusion of wet smell of the soil with the fresh smell of the rain-washed trees is better that any room spray you can imagine. If you don’t want to get wet, fret not. You can enjoy the rain falling over the mountains from the balcony of your resort. It is a most cathartic experience.
How to reach Morni Hills
Morni Hills is still offbeat and we could not see a lot of public transport in this area. Truth be told, public transport is not the most reliable mode of travel to Morni Hills. Therefore, Morni Hills is best visited from Delhi by car. Most of the route is very comfortable and the road condition is excellent. The last stretch is somewhat steep and should be attempted by an experienced driver.
Things to do in Morni Hills
You can have an excellent holiday just enjoying your break by relaxing and enjoying the rain. There are some sight-seeing options as well that are easily doable from Morni Hills.
Tikaar Taal – This is a water basin surrounded by mountains and the view is surreal. Haryana Tourism Department maintains this place and there is a restaurant and games for kids.
Morni Rani Fort – This is a quaint 17th century fort atop a hill and we walked it amidst pitter-patter rain. The fort has now been converted into a museum cum cafeteria. There is a colourful temple outside.
Pandava Temple / Thakur Dwar Temple – This temple dates its history to the 10th century and is said to commemorate the visit of the Pandava brothers of Mahabharata to the lake nearby. Much of the temple is of concrete but you can spot many exquisite stone carvings on the temple walls or on the courtyard. A beautiful ancient Krishna statue adorns the sanctum sanctorum.
Neemrana Fort Palace
This is a refurbished 15th century fort that now functions as a heritage hotel. Technically Neemrana is in Rajasthan. Yet, it is an hour and a half drive from Gurgoan and makes Neemrana an easy getaway. When it rains, the sandstone edifice assumes a beautiful colour. We do not have words to describe the moist smell the stone walls emit when damp with fresh rain. Moreover, the fort has numerous nooks and crevices and is done up with fantastic art. You don’t need to worry about stepping out in the rain and can easily entertain yourself indoors for a day or two.
How to reach Neemrana Fort
Given its proximity to Delhi, driving or hiring a cab is your best bet. You will reach comfortably in 2 hours maximum. Also, less likely chances that rain deters your plans.
Where to stay at Neemrana
Neemrana Fort Palace is your accommodation option here. While once can visit Neemrana for a day trip, we strongly recommend spending the night. Although it’s a indulgence, the experience is value for money and great for celebrations.
Things to do at Neemrana Fort Palace
You can explore the nooks and crevices, click away, get clicked, enjoy a live performance at their amphitheatre, enjoy the meals in open air, below the sky, take a dip in the pool or just laze on the pool-side. There is nothing much but regular Indian village outside. A village walk can be arranged by the hotel on a camel cart if you request for it.
While creating this post, we had many dejavu moments. Reliving the memories of our monsoon tourism destinations from Delhi, we felt so challenged. There is no apt description as to how monsoon transforms nature around us. It is moist with hope. And here is hoping we can scour best place to visit in monsoon and present those to you.