In India, the rains herald the end of the holiday season. But they are also much awaited for the relief they bring from the stifling heat of summer. As cold gusts of wind blow in clouds pregnant with rain, and the fragrance of wet earth fills the air, this is the season of renewal. As the monsoon rolls in, life undergoes an almost miraculous metamorphosis. The dusty garb of summer is transformed—almost overnight—into myriad iridescent shades. Trees sprout new leaves, and a blanket of luminescent green spreads over all the earth. Even a short drive to the outskirts of the city is enough to witness the magic of the monsoon.
Taking a break
Monsoons are not the best time for extended travel or long vacations. However, they are ideal for small weekend getaways squeezed in between hectic work schedules. In fact, city dwellers, for whom the monsoons are usually synonymous with flooded streets, late trains, disease epidemics, and other problems, may find the escape from the city a good opportunity to enjoy the essential beauty of this season.
Some ideal monsoon getaways located near the major metros include:
Calcutta: Barrackpore, Bakreswar, Bakkhali, Diamond Harbour, Jhargram, Shantiniketan
Chennai: Kanchipuram, Mammalapuram, Pondicherry, Vedanthangal, Yelagiri
Delhi: Badhkal Lake, Bharatpurt, Damdama, Morni, Sultanpur, Surajkund, Taliyar
Mumbai: Bhandardhara, Khandala, Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar, Malshej Ghat, Panchgani
Romancing the rains
Monsoon is not for the prudes. This is the season to drop your inhibitions, and let down your hair. And the pleasures are many and varied: Splashing through water-soaked fields, diving into freshly created puddles, enjoying a muddy game of football…the list is endless. Enjoy a stroll down a windy beach, alongside a mercurial sea, as the cold spray hits your face. Or marvel at the sight of a glorious rainbow, as the sun makes a brief appearance from behind the clouds. Stopping by, wet and hungry, at a smoky wayside dhaba for hot tea and snacks is one inimitable monsoon pleasure. Exchanging ghost stories in the cozy warmth of a forest cabin at night, as the rain lashes the windowpanes and the wind howls in the distance, is another.
Footing it out
Probably the best way to get into the spirit of the monsoon is to plan a trek in the great outdoors. This is the time when hill ranges, such as the Western ghats, are at their bewitching best. Silver mist envelopes the slopes, which come alive with the gushing of streams and waterfalls. Vibrant flowers and mushrooms sprout, and vivid coloured caterpillars munch their way through the profuse vegetation. At night, you may be treated to the unforgettable spectacle of sparkling glow worms, as the music of croaking frogs and insect chirps fills the air.
General safety tips
Certain precautions are important to ensure that your monsoon holiday is not a washout.
- Diseases are rampant during the monsoon. Guard against monsoon diseases such as influenza, or dysentery. Always carry a medical kit with some antibiotics. Do not neglect early symptoms of sickness. If you are out for a few days, make it a point to consult a local doctor.
- Protect yourself against mosquitoes. Always carry a mosquito
repellent and take care to cover yourself completely at night. Be alert
to warning signs of malaria including fever, headache, a severe chill,
or muscle ache.
- Contaminated food and water are a monsoon hazard. Eat
only properly cooked food, and wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
Be careful about the water you drink; when in doubt, stick to bottled
mineral water. Also, hot beverages such as coffee and tea are generally safer than fruit juices, sugarcane juice, or buttermilk.
- A good hot water bath is a good practice after a day spent outdoors in the rain.
These are some of the safety tips you can follow while trekking:
- Trek with people
who are knowledgeable about the place where you are going. At least
consult someone knowledgeable, and carry a detailed map.
- Wear appropriate footwear. Rock faces can get very slippery during monsoons.
- Do careful about crossing deep streams unless you are
absolutely sure that they are safe. Not only could they be deeper than
you think, the torrent may be too powerful for you.
- Do not eat leaves, fruits, flowers, or mushrooms unless you are sure that they are safe. They could be poisonous.
- Monsoon is the time when lots of insects emerge. Treat insect bites if they occur by applying some anti-inflammatory cream.
- Be careful about snakes, especially as this is the time you will encounter them often. Learn to identify the common poisonous snakes, if you trek in places where they are found.
You may also be interested in:
- The Indiaparenting Team