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 the heat. There is no worrying about 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 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 favourite 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. Therefore, 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 Mall Road. This is basic but cosy and the food is home-cooked variety, so no complaints. In fact, they have a separate cottage too with a patch of garden in front. We just love that.
Things to do in Lansdowne
There are some simple activities in Lansdowne that are even more interesting in the monsoon. We walked up to Tip-in-Top and the colonial St. Mary’s Church, both perched on a hilltop. The light drizzle made the visit so much more memorable. You can also visit Bula Taal that is a curated waterbody complete with watchtowers and quaint footbridges. The rain covered the lake with dreamy mist and we were suddenly in a Hollywood film setting with a host of special effects.
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 the wet smell of the soil with the fresh smell of the rain-washed trees is better than 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. You can walk up to the Morni Rani Fort which was fun in pitter-patter rain. You can also drive down to Tikaar Taal, a lake maintained by Haryana Tourism Department. The raindrops on the surface of the water surface almost made the lake do a merry dance. If you are here, you can also visit an ancient Pandava Temple in the vicinity.
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 one can visit Neemrana for a day trip, we strongly recommend spending the night. Although it’s an 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 the open air, below the sky, take a dip in the pool or just laze on the pool-side. There is a regular Indian village outside the fort. A camel cart ride to the village can be arranged by the hotel on request.
Renukaji is a lesser-known hill station in Himachal Pradesh. Its claim to any little fame is the Renukaji Temple on the side of Renuka Lake. Close to Renuka temple, there is a Parashuram temple as well. Like Hidimba – Ghatotkach temples in Manali, this is another fine example of Mother-Son temples in India.
We came here during the monsoon and was enamoured by the humid charm. We stayed at the HPTDC property The Renuka. Our room had a balcony opening to the mountains. When it started raining, it was like looking at nature through a wall fountain. Added to that, the sound of rain on Renuka Lake made it an indescribable experience.
How to reach Renukaji
We had driven from Delhi to Renukaji. It took us about 9 hours to cover 315 km. However, the last part of the drive is difficult what with frequent road repairs in Himachal Pradesh. If need be, you are better off in a taxi with a driver habituated with hill driving in the monsoon.
Where to stay at Renukaji
The HPTDC property The Renuka is your best bet. It is clean, spacious and has the most beautiful view of Renuka Lake.
Things to do at Renukaji
This is one spot for all advocates of slow travel. You can visit the Renuka and Parashuram temples that are totally charming. Sitting on the steps beside Renukaji lake and looking at the raindrops on the lotus flowers is a most cathartic experience. There is a small zoo beside Renuka Lake which is all cuteness. We found a sloth bear that was sleeping with all its limbs up in the air. The bear must have been Bedabrata’s long lost twin.
Chail is an offbeat spot in Himachal Pradesh with just a handful of things to do. We visited Chail in August while it was still monsoon. Chail itself is endowed with stunning natural beauty. The glory of Himalayan foliage is visible here like nowhere other. But when it rained, the brown and green of the mountains against the gray of the sky made a painting that no artist could make. We drove up to Kali ka Tibba, the highest point of Chail. It started drizzling and we were we were surrounded by dense fog. It was like the special effects of a Hollywood movie and we were part of it. The experience was so surreal that it seems like a dream.
How to reach Chail
One can drive from Delhi and it takes 8 to 9 hours to reach Chail. But when we went, we reached Shimla by overnight bus from Delhi. From Shimla, we took a local bus to Chail.
Where to stay at Chail
There are many hotels and homestays at the Chail that suit your budget and comfort. HPTDC also runs The Chail Palace, a converted heritage property that is booked almost forever.
Things to do at Chail
The Chail Palace, Kali ka Tibba and the Cricket Ground are among the to-dos here. Monsoon transforms all these spots that are in the lap of verdant greenery. You can take long walks and the air would greet you with the smell of moist leaves and soil. It’s a place to absorb nature, take long walks and enjoy slow travel.
We had to include Karna Lake in this post because of the ease of things. Located close to Delhi, it is a water body with trees and greenery surrounding it. Karna Lake is a popular picnic spot that is full of visitors. But rain transforms this place. Even with a little drizzle, there is a beautiful moist breeze and the leaves look bright green like sparkling emeralds. Add to that the visual of raindrops on the lake and the damp invigorating smell, and you are transported to a world of peace.
How to reach Karna Lake
The best option is to drive from Delhi or hire a cab. You should reach Karna Lake in less than 2 hours.
Where to stay at Karna Lake
Given its proximity to Delhi, most people return the same day. However, Harayana Tourism Departments runs the Karna Lake Resort at this spot for tourists who wish to spend the night.
Things to do at Karna Lake
It is a family spot with various recreational facilities. There are parks with swings and the lake has boating facilities. You can snack or dine at the adjacent restaurant cum bar. Or you can just settle under a shade and watch the splendor of monsoon around you.
While creating this post, we had many deja vu 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.