To Chase a Storm!
Monsoon Journey through India
The late Khushwant Singh, prolific writer and historian, once said that the Indian Monsoon is presaged by the arrival of the Pied Crested Cuckoo, whose birdcall is a signal for the imminent waterworks. The monsoon is one of the most awaited seasons in India, for it follows in the footsteps of the usually harsh months of summer. From the villages to the cities, rains are welcomed with open arms, as they break the otherwise tropical heat which is part and parcel of living in the subcontinent. The relief is compounded by the sweet perfume of petrichor, the breathtaking panoramas of the skies, and the burst of emerald that paints the land in the form of flora. Indeed, the Indian monsoon is something to behold, and what better way to do so, than planning a vacation to those locations which are favored a wee bit more by the beauteous season.
Sindhudurg, Maharashtra, India
Monsoon always serves nature the best, and Sindhudurg is a better example of a jungle made lusher by the advent of the rains. The Konkan Coast is a name to reckon with when it comes to beauty, and this little settlement is no different. The nearby Tarkarli beach is especially exquisite with its white sand shoreline which contrasts the stormy skies wonderfully; the blues and greens of the backwaters easily blend into the greys and silvers of the sea at the Devbagh Sangam. Local artisans, farmers and boatmen have amazing stories to tell about life in this fairly unknown region. Since the road to Sindhudurg passes through Dajipur Forest Reserve, it is a great road trip to make!
When one has to journey through a forest and cross a river to get to one’s destination, it must indeed be a magical place to find oneself in monsoon. Carefully settled within a coconut and betel nut plantation, Maachli is a unique eco-resort, its charm enhanced not only by its location but also the exclusivity is seeks to provide patrons with. There are all of four well-furnished cottages – which provide privacy and peace – which overlook the fantastic expanse of the plantation. Far away from the urban sprawl, the fledgling hotel is also located in close proximity to virgin beaches and a recommended river cruise. The meals at the hotel are of the Konkani cuisine, with delicious seafood and spices. The hospitable hosts ensure that the guests plan future visits even as they leave.
Maheshwar and Mandu, Madhya Pradesh, India
A city steeped in India’s epic history, with its name having been mentioned in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, Maheshwar is today a destination for pilgrimage. Travelers, especially in the monsoon, visit the ghats and palaces which are only made more beautiful as they play hide-and-seek in the fog. The Narmada River, swollen against the backgroundof a stormy sky, serves as a striking setting that one could get used to. The colorful local bazaars find themselves in competition with the palette of nature. The unstructured vistas of the ghats complement the manmade shrines, all along opposite banks of the Narmada.
An hour’s drive from Maheshwar is a unique salad bowl of culture by the name of Mandu. With a forested plateau as a base, the town of Mandu is known for its distinct Afghan architecture which has seen to the designs of many a structure – tombs, mosques and heritage monuments – all protected by UNESCO’s stamp. The baobab trees that have found root here were brought all the way from Africa, and contribute to the inherent individuality of Mandu. On a day trip – apart from the fabulous examples of Afghan craftsmanship – one can explore the magnificent Rupmati Pavilion which rests on the edge of the plateau, and then simply walk around discovering lakes and small canyons attached to which are some of these beautiful structures, reminders of a time long past.
Located strategically on a high embankment, the Narmada Retreat offers amazing views of the powerful river. Visitors can choose to stay in tents or cottages, both of which face the picturesque ghats on the other side of the river. The banks of the Narmada are easily accessible for walks at dawn and dusk, when the river is at its most gorgeous. Temples can be visited as one walks down these banks, and the adventurous can take a boat ride to explore the ghats on a clear day.
With the sacred Narmada below and a three hundred year old palace as the setting Ahilya Fort is a great way to experience Holkar Royaly. Constructed by its most prolific ruler Rani Ahilya Rajawada in the city’s bygone golden period, one can explore the historic grounds to discover the stories they contain within themselves. All the mealtimes can be enjoyed at separate spots in the palace to best appreciate the beauty of it. The gardens are well- cultivated, beckoning the guests to sink their bare feet into the grass as they enjoy the setting. An evening-time boat ride is the best way to get a short, serene tour of the small town.
Coorg, Karnataka, India
Image credit: Pravin8 (Flickr)
Teeming with plantations, the air in Coorg is heavy with the scent of coffee and spices which complements the awesome scenery of the Western Ghats. Adding to the lovely hills are the many trekking paths and the fairly untouched walking trails which allow tourists to seek some much-needed peace and quiet. The wildlife of the area blend seamlessly into the monsoon backdrop, and the land is abuzz with birdcalls and the hum of insects. One can explore the environs, and perhaps stumble upon a lake to picnic beside. For those who wish to indulge in some adventure, biking and river rafting are just a couple of options. If one is lucky, they may spot some elephants frolicking in the shallow, opaque water bodies!
Parumpara Adventure & Cultural Holiday Resort
Covering seven acres of the Coorgi hillside, Parumpara is a haven for those who wish to experience the genuine Kodagu culture. Hospitable and beautiful, the hotel is a getaway for both, the adventurous and the peace-seeking. The uniqueness of this package comes from combining adventure activities along with the indigenous traditions of Coorg to ensure that visitors learn and enjoy simultaneously. From cultural patronage to the delicious local cuisine, Parumpara indeed lives up to its name!
Nestled amidst a perfumed coffee plantation, Kedakal is a colonial bungalow dating back to the early 1900s, now converted into a homestay for those who wish to experience life at an estate. Its close proximity to a nearby evergreen forest is opportunity for an exciting day trip, while walks through the plantation allow for a fascinating first-hand understanding of how the farmstead functions. The bottle green Vindhyas are an attractive benefit for nature lovers and birdwatchers. The adventurous can attempt quad biking and short treks.
The monsoon has occupied an important position in the court of Indian seasons, prolific ever since the time of Kalidas’ Meghdoot and Tansen’s Megh Malhar. From the fertility of the fields to the disruption of urban heat, the opening up of the heavens is welcomed unanimously. Even today, when visited by rain, the entire country rejoices in manners as diverse as the nation itself. The distinctiveness of its impact on each region only serves in the favor of the season. From Pushkar to Tosh to Cherrapunji to Kerala, in each direction is something entirely amazing for the monsoon traveler. The storm clouds beckon!
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