Monsoon season in India always creates a split — some hate it, some love it. Well, it is totally understandable that the wet and humid weather is a disaster for travellers, but that’s not always true in India. The rain washes the trees and soil and paints the cities green. The breezy weather always adds a certain romance to the ambience. So soothing, so calming.
As everyone else prefers staying at home during monsoon, it’s your chance to enjoy some of India’s most beautiful cities minus the crowd.
Where to go during Monsoon Season
1. Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya
One of the thrilling steel hanging bridges in Cherrapunjee
Clinching the title of the wettest place on the planet, Cherrapunjee receives rainfall almost throughout the year. How is it different during monsoon? More and more rain! It rains cats and dogs during monsoon season here, but once the rain stops, the beauty shines.
Heaven for nature lovers, Cherrapunjee is well-known for its bio-engineering marvel: The Double Decker Living Root Bridges of Nongriat.
Double Decker Living Root Bridges
A few thousand stairs downhill, and voila! The rewarding view is worth all the sweats and muscle aches. Take a swim on the gushing stream below the bridges or take a thrilling walk across steel hanging bridges — this place is a real adventure for everyone.
Enroute to the Living Root Bridges in Cherapunjee
Other must-visits here are the Mausmai caves and the newly opened Arwah caves. You can feel the natural underground water sweeping your feet while watching the cave guide pointing at the different fossils etched in the walls of the caves.
Tips: Make sure you are adequately equipped with raincoats, umbrellas, waterproof boots and rain jackets. Also, keep your eyes on the local news since landslides are quite frequent and thus, roadblocks.
How to get there: Fly or take a train to Guwahati. Continue your journey to Shillong and Cherrapunji via cabs or buses.
2. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Tourists flock to Andaman and Nicobar for the sunshine, but if you are going on a budget trip, head to the Andaman during the monsoon period. That was exactly what I did!
The beaches were mostly empty, the vegetations were in their greenest hues, and the hotels were slashing their prices. What a fantastic deal! Yes, it might rain here and there, but I didn’t mind because once in a while, I needed a break from the beach as well.
If you are looking for a peaceful getaway overlooking the turquoise water of Bay of Bengal from Radhanagar Beach, spend a few nights at Dolphin Resort in Havelock Island. You won’t want to miss the spectacular light and sound show at the Cellular jail.
Tips: Don’t swim in the ocean during monsoon period due to its strong current.
How to get there: Fly to Port Blair and take a taxi to Andaman.
Where to stay: If you are looking for somewhere close to nature, I would recommend Symphony Palms Beach Resort. This resort sits in the centre of Havelock Island with Scottish cottages, beach shacks, and a private beach just around the corner.
3. Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra
Mahabaleshwar is one of the most sought-after hill stations during the monsoon season, thanks to its stunning undulating landscape.
During the monsoon period, the mornings at Mahabaleshwar are foggy with lush greenery all around. I couldn’t forget spending my time lazying around Venna Lake with a piping hot cup of chai.
Do give Chinaman and Dhobi Waterfalls a visit when you are in Mahabaleshwar during the monsoon period. The monsoon rains bring loads of water to the otherwise dry waterfalls, so don’t miss the chance!
Tips: Do not forget to shop for fresh strawberries and raspberries, every local’s favourite snack in Mahabaleshwar.
How to get there: Take a train from Pune. Alternatively, take a bus or taxi.
Where to stay: You should check Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa out. The cosy hotel overlooks the valley, with a swimming pool surrounded by greenery.
4. Goa, Maharashtra
Sunset in Goa
One of the most popular places in India, Goa is usually associated with beaches, raving parties and vibrant nightlife. Monsoon brings Goa to an entirely new level with its tranquil, romantic atmosphere.
Besides the lower prices, Goa offers nearly empty beaches and affordable yet fantastic seafood during the monsoon period. Trek to the mighty Dudhsagar Falls and enjoy the splashing cold water while standing right next to it.
Other favourite activities of mine were exploring Old Goa, wildlife sanctuaries, spice plantations, forts and old churches. The stunning architecture of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church was definitely a sight to behold!
Tips: Beach shacks and water sports usually remain shut in the monsoon season due to the strong sea current.
How to get there: Fly directly to Goa.
Where to stay: To enjoy a comfortable and budget stay in Goa my to-go place hotel is the Ibis Styles Goa Calangute Hotel located in the popular Calangute Beach.
5. Darjeeling, West Bengal
A walk through the Darjeeling Tea Gardens
A paradise for tea lovers, Darjeeling‘s green-carpeted tea slopes turn into a fresher shade of green in monsoon months. It is no longer a secret that Darjeeling tea is one of the best in the world. So there is no reason for you to miss sipping a cup of Darjeeling tea, especially on a cold and windy day.
Garland of clouds
The old colonial town is also popular for its old-school bakeries. My recommendation is to grab some fresh bakes from Glenary’s or to gorge on the giant sausage platter from Keventer’s to start your morning in Darjeeling.
The giant very popular Sausage platter at Keventers
World famous Toy Train in Darjeeling
After the rain subsides, you may not want to explore the muddy trail of the tea plantation. Instead, hop on a ride on the coveted Toy Train over the hills slopes to see the lush tea gardens along the way.
How to get there: Fly to Bagdogra Airport and take a cab to Darjeeling. Otherwise, take a train and alight at Siliguri or New Jalpaiguri Railway station, before taking a cab to Darjeeling.
Where to stay: The colonial-style The Elgin Resort was once the summer residence of the King of Cooch Behar but is now a hotel.
Inside Hotel Elgin, Darjeeling
6. Kumarakom, Kerala
Famously called as God’s Own Country, Kerala hides a gorgeous monsoon city destination: Kumarakom.
The picturesque backwaters of Kumarakom | Source: BobbyJoshi
Recently declared as one of the World’s 25 remote and exotic destinations by Conde Nast Travellers, it is a land of unmatched charm full of paddy fields, coconut and mango groves. Bird watching at Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary during the rains is a great way to spend some time here in the midst of nature.
Make sure you don’t rent a tiny boat or shikkara when cruising down the lake, especially during sunset, because the strong wind may rock the boat violently.
Sunset over the backwaters of Kumarakom | Source: BobbyJoshi
How to get there: Kochi is the nearest airport while the closest railway station is in Kottayam. You can also take a bus or cab from Trivandrum, Kochi or any other city of Kerala to reach Kumarakom.
Where to stay: Nestled in the lap of nature, Kumarakom Lake Resort is my favourite pick thanks to its evergreen surrounding meadows.
The colourful houses of Pondicherry
Pondicherry is India’s Little French area. The pastel-coloured buildings, French architecture, and sumptuous French cuisine make it an absolute tourist favourite.
I love to visit Pondicherry during the monsoon season as the temperature is much more bearable for a stroll around the city. You can also hire a scooty or bike to explore the Heritage town or ride further to Auroville.
Matri Mandir, Auroville
Mediterranean Sandwich at Auroville
8. Jog Falls, Karnataka
Jog Falls at its best during monsoon season | Source: PreritSharma
Jog Falls is the second-highest plunge waterfall in India, and visiting it during the monsoon month gives you a glimpse of a mightier and more powerful waterfall due to the heavier water load. Not surprising that it’s often mistaken as the tallest waterfall in India!
Bring along your picnic mat and some snacks to enjoy the scenic view and cooling weather. It is an absolute wonder to watch and is also a trendy picnic spot owing to the pleasant weather and picturesque surroundings.
You can also trek downhill to get a closer look at the mighty waterfall — be prepared to climb down and up thousands of steps though!
Tips: The stairs leading downhill can be slippery, so make sure you wear decent sports or trekking shoes.
How to get there: Mangalore is the nearest airport, but you have to cab to Jog Falls from the airport. Otherwise, take a train to Shimoga.
Where to stay: My recommendation will be Wild Woods Spa and Resort. Located deep in the woods, the hut-like cottages let you stay very close to nature and wake up to chirping birds in the woods.