Many of us prefer to enjoy the monsoons from the comfort of our own homes, with some tea and pagodas nearby. As tempting as it is to stay indoors during this time of year, the outdoors take on a distinct kind of beauty when it rains. This time of year, the nation has a lot to offer, from gorgeous hikes and magnificent waterfalls to wonderful meals and breathtaking natural displays.
On a moonless monsoon night, the small moss-like Mycena mushrooms on tree barks turn neon green, reminiscent of a scene from the film Avatar, but with a ‘Hilltop’ Anjuna vibe. Fifty of the 27,000 fungi found in India are bioluminescent. The woodlands of Chorla Ghats and Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the trinity of Goa, Karnataka, and Maharashtra, exhibit this unique natural occurrence. When the amount of oxygen and moisture in the air reaches a specific level—conditions are only seen during the rainy season—fungi discharge extra light energy, and the forests begin to glow. Trek through the forest at night amid the symphony of Malabar gliding frogs, then turn off your torch and see the beautiful nature come to life.
Dudhsagar Waterfall Trek
The Mandovi River shoots from a cliff as Dudhsagar waterfall, which means “Ocean of Milk,” deep within Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, which straddles the Goa-Karnataka border. Getting here can be difficult because it is at its most torrential during the monsoon. Until October, two streams flood the jeep road, and access is through a narrow dirt track. Take a pillion ride with local bikers who offer an adventure on wheels from Kulem railway station in Goa if you enjoy the excitement of a monsoon bike rally. The 14-kilometre assault course at the rail tracks’ side is an all-terrain path of ballast, puddles, culverts, and rushing torrents. Trudge 100m from the parking lot to the base across treacherous rocks and stream crossings for a postcard-worthy view.
The female florican emits a whistling mating cry at dawn or dusk, and the male responds with a leap of faith. He bounds clear of the war fields, legs curled in mid-air, neck arched back, and the ribbon-like plumes behind its ear-coverts fluttering madly. This dance is performed every few minutes till the female gives way. The unique lesser florican, locally known as Khar more, is the smallest of India’s three bustard species and is famed for its acrobatic mating dance. This exhibit occurs throughout the monsoon season, and the ideal site to picture it is Sonkhaliya, near Ajmer.
While Mawsynram has surpassed Cherrapunji as the wettest site in India, the latter still maintains the record for the most recorded rainfall in the globe. And what better time to visit Meghalaya than during the rains? Set up camp at the Ri Kynjai resort (rikynjai.com), which overlooks Umiam Lake. There are several monsoon activities to enjoy here. Boat on the beautiful lake flanked by the Khasi Hills. In Tyrna Village, near Cherrapunji, take a walk across a double-decker live root bridge. Explore the foggy settlement of Laitkynsew, as well as the stunning 1,100-foot-drop Nohkalikai Falls and the Nohsngithiang numerous cataracts.
Triund Trek is an ideal escape to the heights in McLeodganj. Triund Trek, located between the Dhauladhar Mountains and the Kangra Valley, is one of Himachal Pradesh’s most popular treks. The track winds through a forest of deodar, rhododendron, and oak, and the fresh air here will relax your mind and body as you handle the challenging turns. One of the reasons Triund Trek is so popular is that it is achievable for most of the year. Although it does rain extensively for a few days during the monsoons, making life difficult during the monsoon season.
Nothing beats Mandu’s romance in the rain. The countryside is lush as the monsoon drama reaches a climax at Baz Bahadur’s palace, where the cliffside Roopmati’s Pavilion is wonderfully wrapped in mist. Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Khalji’s lakeside pleasure palace Jahaz Mahal is one structure in this 15th-century central Indian sultanate that celebrates the monsoon. When the rains cover the twin lakes Munj Talao and Kapur Talao, the 120m-long, double-storey mansion appears to float on water like a luxury liner. Rainwater was gathered in the cavernous Andheri Baori (Dark Well) and open-air Ujala Baori (Illuminated Well) for potable water, which played an important role for its residents. The terrace run-off was channelled into curlicue channels, which slowed the flow and settled sediments, allowing only pure water to flow.