Soak In The Monsoon Magic

It is that time of the year when Nature makes you fall in love with it all over again. The magic of rains not only adds an element of romance but it also lends a touch of extra beauty to scenic spots, heritage buildings and wildlife parks. We pick some you must visit this time when the rains come calling

There’s something incredibly endearing about the rains. As it brings respite to parched earth, pulls down the mercury and sweeps everything clean, it also reinforces hope. July and the onset of the monsoons is eagerly awaited and the first plop of rain on the ground is reason enough to celebrate. While some people can’t be bothered about travelling during the rains, there’s a certain romance to chasing the monsoons across the country that other seasons can’t compete with. Whether it is the jungles and mountains that are turned into swathes of eye-popping fresh green or ancient monuments that are cleansed and dressed with a sparkling sheen, this is the season for an inimitable experience. Here are some places that are ideal to visit during Monsoon.

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MUNNAR

Munnar in Kerala is mountainous with rolling hillsides interspersed with carpets of emerald green tea plantations and breathtaking scenery, almost like a beautiful postcard. And when it rains, Munnar becomes a paradise. Whether it is adventure or just plain relaxation, you can set your own pace in this natural paradise. The best way to spend time is to soak up the atmosphere, go on long walks on the deserted roads or inside plantations, and be a part of the romance that Munnar exudes.

KNOW THIS

Munnar has a plethora of activities and places to see. On your itinerary should be Devikulam Lake, Kulokkaumalai, Echo Point (15 km) for sweeping views of the areas and echoes and Top Station (35 km) for breathtaking scenery.

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MOUNT ABU

In Rajasthan’s largely arid and desert landscape, Mount Abu is literally an oasis. Located almost on the State’s border with Gujarat, this is a massive plateau rising almost 4,000 feet from the plains with the highest point towering past 5,650 feet. It is filled with rivers, streams, lakes and waterfalls as well as thick forests. While Mount Abu is scenic throughout the year, it takes on a surreal kind of beauty when it is lashed by vigorous rains. Its rivers and lakes swell while the whole area is swept clean and is refreshing and ideal for long walks.

DON’T MISS:  Mount Abu is home to a number of temples, both Hindu and Jain, and also houses headquarters of the Brahma Kumari sect. But most fascinating is the 14th century Achalgarh fort with Nakki Lake in the middle.

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DARJEELING

Located in the midst of a range of scenic hills, popularly known as the Lesser Himalayas, Darjeeling is surrounded by thick forested hills and hill slopes blanketed with tea plantations. During the monsoons, rains can be heavy and sustained but it makes for a fabulous stay in this West Bengal hill station. Mountain streams swell and cause mini waterfalls around bends and curves in the roads while the lush greenery is captivating.

How to reach – Take a broad gauge train to New Jalpaiguri and from there catch the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, listed under UNESCO World Heritage Site, for an incredible and scenic 88 km/55 minute journey through loops, zig zags and pretty stations.

Wildlife Wows

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PERIYAR NATIONAL PARK

Named after one of the main rivers that flows through the park, Periyar National Park is located in the Cardamom Hills in the Western Ghats in Kerala. It has a combination of hills, rivers and thick forests. The monsoon arrives in the first week of June, drenching everything and turning the whole area into a carpet of green. An important sanctuary for tigers and elephants, the park is an ideal place to visit during the monsoons when everything is fresh and bountiful.

THINGS TO DO HERE: Though controlled and guided by certified personnel, it is possible to do nature walks, trekking and camping, range hiking, bamboo rafting and visit tribal settlements.

How to reach – The nearest railway station is Madurai (140 km) from where it is a three-hour drive to Kumily which is the gateway to the National Park. It takes about 15 minutes from Kumily to reach there.

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PENCH NATIONAL PARK

Located mostly inside Madhya Pradesh near the border with Maharashtra, Pench National Park spreads over 758 sq km with the Pench Tiger Reserve occupying over 292 sq km. Predictably the tiger is the most important animal here though there are a variety of other animals too. However, it is the flora which dazzles. Filled with tall teak, white kullu trees and the bright flowers of the mahua, the park is a smorgasbord of colours. All of this is washed clean during the rains and makes for a fantastic drive through.

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KNOW THIS :Pench finds mention in Emperor Akbar’s Ain-i- Akbari, a document on his administration. The tiger reserve is also the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s famous The Jungle Book.

How to reach: The nearest railway station is Nagpur (135 km) from where Pench is approximately a three-hour drive

GIR NATIONAL PARK

Gir National Park or popularly known as Sasan Gir, is a sprawling 1,400 sq km park and is the only home to the protected Asiatic lions. It was once the hunting grounds of Junagadh royalty but the Nawab realised the risk and declared it a protected area as early as the 1900s. The park becomes especially beautiful during the monsoon when everything turns lush green and the streams that flow through the park are full. Though it has a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including leopards, hyenas, jackals, black bucks, chitals, porcupines and at least 300 species of birds, the rains may make sighting a bit difficult but provides an altogether different perspective to the park.

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KNOW THIS The park is home to 523 lions, up from 411 counted in 2010, thanks to a dedicated conservation and breeding programme.

How to reach – The nearest railway station is Junagadh (80 km) from where it is a two-hour drive to Gir National Park.

text : Anita Rao-Kashi

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