13 July 2015

10 good reasons to travel to India during the monsoon

If you check any guidebook for the best time to come to India, the period between June and September is usually not recommended. This is monsoon season in most parts of the country and travellers are inevitably put off travelling during this time because they imagine torrential rains, floods, and transportation chaos...
Though I don’t really like the rain, I love India during the monsoon. I also think this is the best time to visit India! Though rain does not evoke any romantic feelings for a ‘Western’ traveller, I honestly think this is the best time to visit India. It’s not all about torrential rains and flooded streets… Yes, it will rain and sometimes a lot, so much that streets do sometimes get flooded, however, it does not rain all the time and not necessarily every day. This was my experience while I was living in Bangalore continuously for seven years.

Of course, some regions get more rain than others, while others experience the monsoon much later. Those who really want to avoid the rain during this time can head to south-east India (Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry) where the monsoon only arrives by November.

Here are my 10 good reasons to travel to India during the monsoon season:

1. There are fewer tourists. Do you hate being around tourists and consider yourself not one of them but a ‘traveller’? Fear not, during the monsoon you can pretend that India really does belongs to you. You’ll definitely see fewer tourists compared to the peak tourist season during the winter months.

2. Lower prices. This being the low season means you’re bound to get a good deal on your flight to India. Domestic airfares go down too and so do hotel rates. You will have a lot more bargaining power when it comes to negotiating hotel rooms and don’t be shy to do so. Lower prices are a very good reason to visit India during this time.

3. More availability on trains. If you’ve travelled in India during the winter months when tourism peaks, you know that you have to reserve the most popular trains long in advance and you can forget about the tourist quota some trains offer. During the monsoon advance reservations are often not required and you have a better chance of finding a seat.

4. More availability at hotels: During this period, most hotels are not running to full occupancy. For this reason, availability is not a problem and it’s easier to get a good deal. Some luxury hotels offer special ‘monsoon packages’. If you’re travelling on a budget, this is the time to travel.

5. There’s a special vibe. In the days leading up to the monsoon, the anticipation is palpable. Everyone is waiting with bated breath and suppressed excitement for the first drops to fall. The newspapers give a daily report on the onset of the monsoon: is it on schedule or is it expected to be late? Once it finally arrives in Kerala, the number of days it will take to reach other regions is calculated to almost exact precision. People in India love the rain and consider it romantic. Have you ever seen a Bollywood movie? The romantic scenes will always happen during a rain shower, while in Hollywood movies rain means imminent doom!

6. Temperatures fall. After the intense heat of the summer months of April and May, temperatures fall during the months of the monsoon bringing relief from the heat. Also, the rain in India is not unpleasant because it’s warm. Getting caught in a rain shower is like taking a warm shower!

7. The colours. During the monsoon, India is at its most beautiful. Everything is a brilliant green. Landscapes are lush and beautiful. Lakes, rivers and waterfalls which run dry during the summer months, fill with water. After the long, hot summer, the country comes back to life.

8. It doesn’t rain all the time. Don’t worry: you won’t be stuck indoors unable to venture out. Like I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t rain all day, every day, and the sun does make an appearance. In Bangalore the rains were usually pretty predictable, starting around 4 or 5pm. Sometimes it would rain for an hour or two, sometimes much longer, and it would rarely rain in the mornings. I also travelled in Orissa during two monsoon seasons, and been to Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry during their rainy season, and didn’t find it a major inconvenience.

9. Mangoes. Yes you can still find mangoes in June and July and my favourites are the ones that appear at the end of the mango season like Badami and Neelam. Yum!

10. Experience the ‘real’ India. You just haven’t completely experienced India if you haven’t been here during the monsoon. The monsoon is such an important aspect of life here and many Indians’ favourite season. Of course, I have also been inconvenienced by the rains: memories of 24-hour power cuts after storms and the times I had to walk barefoot in water up to my knees, carrying my shoes so they don’t get completely soaked! But these were novel experiences I don’t regret.

Take the plunge... there is a chance your travel plans may get disrupted, and you may have a few new experiences, but while in India you should just go with the flow!

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