Ladakh: Jammu and Kashmir’s adventure paradise
Due to it being in somewhat of a rain shadow during the monsoon season, and due to much of the snow in the region having melted over the summer months, Ladakh becomes a place full of adventure travel opportunities at this time of year. Bounded by two of the world’s largest mountain ranges, and surrounded by spectacular alpine desert landscapes touched with the red, yellow and blue prayer flags of ancient Buddhist monasteries – Ladakh is an incredibly beautiful sight to behold. There’s excellent whitewater rafting to be had due to melted snow filling the rivers; breathtaking trekking next to giant mountains and valleys; and colourful culture on display at the many Buddhist festivals that take place at this time of year. For photographers, of course, Ladakh provides some dream-like landscapes to capture.
Valley of Flowers National Park: Uttarakhand’s carpet of colour
The landscape that makes up Uttarakhand’s famous Valley of Flowers in northern India is a blissfully beautiful place to be during the monsoon season. The best time to visit this high altitude valley is from mid-July to mid-August, when the flowers are in full bloom after the first monsoon rains – and when they appear as a richly colourful carpet against the backdrop of the snow-clad Himalayan peaks. The park’s relative inaccessibility in the mountains, and the fact that you’ll need to trek to the valley on foot, have ensured that it remains a pristine paradise for nature lovers.
Meghalaya: India’s “Abode of clouds”
If you really are keen to get wonderfully soaked during the monsoon, the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya, which means “Abode of clouds" in Sanskrit, is often credited as one of the wettest places on earth. Natural wonders like the Balpakram and Nokrek national parks will leave you spellbound as they come alive with flowing waterfalls, rivers and streams. As will the famous root bridges in the area, which look like something out of a fantasy story book landscape – and which have been created over many decades by local villagers, who have trained tree roots to form bridges across sections of river valleys. Also, a highlight on the Meghalaya cultural calendar at this time of year is the Behdienkhlam harvest festival, which is celebrated by the region’s Jaintia tribes.
Kerala: Green and gorgeous
During its long monsoon season, the gorgeously green Kerala landscape becomes lusher, greener, and many say even more alluring. On many days, some sunshine still manages to peek through the clouds for a few hours – bathing the landscape in a glistening golden light. There’s more colour to be experienced during the monsoon at Kerala’s famous snake boat races, and at the Onam Hindu festival. This is also a time of year to indulge in traditional Ayurveda treatments. As the Kerala Tourism team explains, “According to Ayurveda practice, the monsoon season is the best time for rejuvenation therapies. This is when the air and atmosphere in the region becomes dust free and cool, which opens the pores of your skin to the maximum – and making them receptive to the healing and rejuvenating properties of Ayurvedic herbal oils.”
Goa: Monsoon magic
Of course, India’s western seaboard state of Goa is most famous for its beautiful palm fringed beaches and party scene, but you’d be amiss to think that this is all it has to offer. During the monsoon season, travellers to Goa will find that there are waterfalls and rivers to explore, lush green forests to hike through, and charming back-country villages to visit. There are also vibrant monsoon festivals, and some exciting white water rafting adventures to be had due to the full rivers. Plus, many of Goa’s luxury hospitality establishments offer excellent off-season rates.
For more on where to travel around India, and what to see and do, check out the official site www.incredibleindia.org
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