July is that time of year when monsoon in India is at its best bringing respite from the scorching summer heat. July also marks the waning of the peak summer holiday season in India. But for some adventurous souls and discerning travelers, it also brings the opportunity to enjoy the bounties of nature plus the advantage of lesser crowds at even the most popular tourist destinations in India.
July and the monsoon in India is the time when you could indulge in communion with nature, give time to yourself, rejuvenate and find harmony of mind, body and soul at some of the best destinations in India. From the humbling Himalayan abode of Ladakh in North and the wettest place in India Mawsynran in North East to the “city of joy” Mandu in Central India and Wayanad in the Western Ghat region in Kerala, plan your holidays in India in the month of July with this meticulously crafted list.
Mandu, Madhya Pradesh
The picturesque beauty of Mandu in monsoon was summed up best in reflection of none other than Mughal Emperor Jehangir in these words: “Of all places in Hindustan none is more beautiful than Mandu after the rains.” This historical city is also renowned for the legendary romantic stories of Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati with the scale of narrative rivaling the plots great Shakespearian tragedies like Romeo and Juliet.
It is said that captivated by the ravishing beauty of Rani Roopmati, Adham Khan, a Mughal general invaded Mandu and in the ensuing battle Baz Bahadur lost his life. Learning of this and the intention of Adham Khan, Rani Roopmati preferred the death by poison to reunite with her lover in the other world thus ending the one of the greatest saga of romance in India.
Things to do in Mandu include visits to an array of monuments, tombs, mosques and palaces sprinkled across this scenic plateau perched along ravines, lakes and sweeping fields. The lush bloom of the monsoon and revivified plants and forests along with pleasant weather is a boon for nature lovers during the month of July.
Mawsynram, North East India
Where would you enjoy rain the best? Definitely at the wettest place on the planet (although some dispute this fact)! Nevertheless, Mawsynram, located 56 km from Shillong in the hill state of Meghalaya in North East India, is undoubtedly the wettest place in India with the average annual precipitation of 11, 872 mm. Gushing waterfalls, lashing rains and mist that envelops this small hill town bestow a surreal look to this place.
Things to do in Mawsynram include visit to Mawjymbuin Cave with its magnificent stalagmites and nature walks along rolling hills and verdant slopes. Combined with Shillong with its lakes, churches, waterfalls and museums; Laitkynsew with its living root bridge, spring baths and caves; Cherrapunji which is officially (for statistical purposes) the wettest place in India and Mawphlang with its famous sacred forest, this trip is one of the best experiences to have in North East throughout the year.
Valley of Flower, Uttarakhand
A World Heritage Site, Valley of Flower in Uttarakhand, located at an altitude of 10,000 to 20,000 feet is one of the finest and picturesque treks in Himalayas. With over 300 varieties of Alpine flowers, the Valley of Flower is a glacial corridor at the transition of Zanskar and Greater Himalayas range. The Valley itself only remains open between the months of June till September.
Permit is required for both Indians (INR 150) and foreigners (INR 600 or $12) which are available from the starting point of the valley i.e. the check point of the Forest Department. To preserve the ecology and reduce the toll due to tourism camping is strictly prohibited inside the Valley of Flower and visitors are not allowed access after 18:00 hours in the evening till 6:00 hours in the morning.
The total trek distance to reach Valley of Flower from Govind Ghat, the starting point of the trek is 16 km. Ghangaria, 3 km before the Valley of Flower serves as the base camp where trekkers could spend the night. Visitors often combine the trek to Valley of Flower with yet another trek on the same route to the holy Sikh pilgrimage site of Hemkund Sahib.
[ Also check out Best Places to Visit in Uttarakhand ]
Located close to Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra, Lonavala wrapped in wispy clouds and mists during monsoon presents vistas that are at once entrancing and spectacular. Luscious hills and undulating valleys, waterfalls and several caves are the major draws of this hill station and one of the popular weekend getaways from Mumbai and Pune.
3 km further in the Sahyadri Range, sits the twin hill station of Khandala at the same elevation of 2,041 feet at the transition zone from Deccan Plateau to Konkan Coast. Things to do in Khandala and Lonavala include visits to Bhaja, Bedsa and Karla Caves and the 2 resplendent forts of Lohagarh and Visapur. Lonavla and Khandala are the 2 most prominent monsoon destinations in Maharashtra.
Referred to as “The Scotland of East” owing to numerous waterfalls, lakes resembling lochs and the scenic landscape dotted with pine and orchids, Shillong is the capital of Meghalaya. The erstwhile capital of Assam, Shillong still retains its colonial charm and enjoys a milder weather which makes it one of the popular summer holiday destinations in North India as well as one of the best places for honeymoon in India.
Shillong receives heavy rainfall during monsoon but this is also when it is at its verdant best. During the rainy season, the undulating mountains and valleys become swathed in vibrant color of blossoming flowers & pine grooves.
There are plenty of things to do in Shillong that includes visits to picturesque lakes and gardens, cascading waterfalls and exploration of peaks and forests. Some of the most popular attractions in Shillong are Umium Lake, Lady Hydari Park, Don Bosco Center on Indigenous Culture, Elephant Falls, Sweet Falls, Wards Lake and Shillong Peak.
However there’s more to holidays in Shillong then just travelling in Shillong. Nearby Shillong, there are plenty of excursions that should be undertaken to truly relish the splendor of this North Eastern countryside. Some of the must visit places near Shillong are Jaintia Hills, Cherrapunji, Nongriat, Mawsynram, Khasi Hills and Mawlynnong.
Whereas Cherrapunji is historically known as the wettest place on the earth, Mawsynram is actually the wettest place on the planet. Monsoon is the best time to visit these places to experience the magical beauty of nature, the misty hills and thundering waterfalls that abound here. Nohkalikai Falls, Mawsmai Cave and Double Decker Living Root Bridge are some of the top attractions in this area that are best experienced during monsoon and that is the reason why we have included Shillong as one of the top places to visit in India in July.
Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
The ultimate adventure destination in India rated highly by adventure enthusiasts from around the world in their travel bucket list, Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir is a high altitude paradise that remains accessible by road only between the months of June/July till late September/early October.
Also referred to as the “land of lamas” and “mini tibet”, Ladakh region is home to the ancient Buddhist traditions and civilization. With its magnificent monasteries, emerald lakes, some of the highest motorable roads and breathtaking sceneries, it is one of the best destinations for adventure seekers especially amidst the off roaders, road trips & bike trips enthusiasts.
But be cautious that it’s not for the faint hearted or inexperienced drivers to tackle the challenges faced during the travel to Ladakh by road. Add to this the high altitude low oxygen at high altitude passes and even destinations where travelers spend the night, one has to plan carefully before undertaking a trip to Ladakh by road.
Things to do in Ladakh include visits to Buddhist Monasteries, Pangong Tso, Tso Kar and Tso Mori Ri Lakes, Bactrian Camel safari in the sand dunes at Hunder, river rafting in Indus and mountain biking from or to Khardung La, the highest motorable pass in the world, a claim that is disputed by recent measurements using modern technologies.
One of the reason to choose Ladakh to visit in July and entire monsoon season is that this region has very low precipitation level and remains almost devoid of rain.
[Plan your Ladakh trip at LehLadakhIndia.com]
Rain, rain come again is the tune that one would hum to when visiting Wayanad during the month of July or for that matter entire monsoon season in India. Fondly referred to as the ‘Eden’ of “God’s own Country”, Wayanad with its emerald paddy fields and rolling plantation of tea and spices is a visual delight that is both spellbinding as well as emotionally & mentally uplifting.
[Interested in more things to do in Kerala in monsoon]
A relatively unspoiled hill station in Kerala, Wayanad is also known for the eco tourism initiatives and rejuvenating ayurveda facilities. With the arrival of monsoon, not just Wayanad but entire state of Kerala becomes a cocoon of peace and rejuvenation with an array of hotels and resorts offering ayurvedic therapies and treatments. In Wayanad, Vythiri Resort is a luxury retreat offering authentic Ayurveda therapies inspired by the ancient Indian science of healing and wellness.
[Book your Ayurveda Holiday Package at Vythiri Resort in Kovalam at IndianHoliday.com]
Restore the harmony of your mind and body by choosing one of the signature therapies at Vythiri Resort and let the gentle thrum of falling rain and luxuriant surroundings uplifts you mentally, physically and spiritually.
[Also check out top tourist places to visit in Kerala]
Amarnath Yatra, Jammu & Kashmir
Amarnath is one of the holiest Hindu Shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir. It is believed that it was here that Lord Shiva narrated the story of divinity and immortality to goddess Parvati. Every year Shri Amarnah Ji Shrine Board organizes the mega event that is the annual Amarnath Yatra.
A naturally formed lingam inside a cave forms each year and sea of devotees embark on pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave to seek the blessing of their revered lord Shiva whose presence here is referred to as Amarnath or “the immortal god”.
Amarnath Yatra could be undertaken by road or through helicopter. The trek as well as helicopter service for Amarnath Yatra starts from Baltal or Pahalgam. However, the preferred route is Baltal for its breathtaking vistas and proximity to nearby tourist sites Sonamarg.
[Plan your Amarnath Yatra by Helicopter 2016 at IndiaPilgrimTours.com]
Saputara is the only hill station located in the state of Gujarat perched atop the Sahyadri range and wrapped in verdant forests. Being close to the border of Maharashtra, Saputara with a range of outdoor activities and peaceful surroundings is one of the popular weekend getaways from Mumbai.
Things to do in Saputara could range from thrill of the ropeway ride, trekking and camping and pulsating rides in boat, horse or even a camel. Emerald Lakes, cascading waterfalls reinvigorated after the arrival of monsoon in July makes it a good time to visit Saputara.
The ensuing rains bequeath this lovely hill station of Gujarat with lush forests, wispy clouds, flowers in bloom, gushing waterfall and a replenished lake. Find your nirvana this July in commune with nature at Saputara.
[Also check out top 10 places to visit in Gujarat]
Goa: India’s Ultimate Beach Destinations
Nestled between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, Goa is India’s tiny emerald that beckons millions of tourists from around the world. Shot to fame internationally after the hippie scene of 1980s, Goa is renowned for its churches and cathedrals, some of India’s best beaches, eclectic cuisines and colonial charm.
Once a colony of the Portuguese, it was said about this city that you need not travel to Lisbon if you have been to Goa. The remnant of this lost glory is stilled sprinkled across South Goa in the ruins of the city which disintegrated after the outbreak of disease.
Now those ruins and existing buildings are inscribed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site. Then there is the vibrant nightlife, flea markets and ayurveda that are among the other major draws of Goa.
Wondering why we recommend holidays in Goa in July as it will rain and beaches won’t be fun?
Yes we know but the prices – especially for accommodation – skyrockets in Goa in peak season that is winter. Hotels are pre booked in advance – some of the best properties are sold out even a year in advance.
For yoga, meditation and best of spa and ayurveda in Goa, arrival of monsoon marks the ideal time for a laid back wellness and rejuvenation break. And most significantly, there is no tourist rush and you could actually breathe easy and enjoy the natural best as well as sightseeing. And yes nightlife remains vibrant and you have that unmistakable “sussegado” for which Goa became a crowd puller in the first place.
Variously referred to as “the City of Lakes” and “the Venice of the East”, Udaipur is India’s most romantic destination despite the fact that it is located in the desert kingdom of Rajasthan.
So what makes Udaipur the most romantic destination in India?
It starts with its royal past. Named after the founder Maharana Udai Sing of Sisodia clan of Rajput who claimed they were the descendents of sun god, Udaipur is the city of an array of manmade lakes and equally spectacular palaces some of which appear floating in lakes and vibrant & colorful bazaars.
An array of the erstwhile palaces have now been converted into hotels and Rajasthan with its unique history is home to the largest number of these palaces turned hotels, a concept that is known as heritage hotels in India.
The stunner among an array of heritage hotels in Rajasthan or even India is the Lake Palace that is managed by the Taj Group. Taj Lake Palace has been voted India’s most romantic hotel and one of the best hotels in the world.
With an appearance of sprouting out from the emerald waters of Lake Pichola and shining sparkling white with the Aravali range in the background giving it a dream like appearance, this small luxury hotel acclaimed international attention after the substantial shooting of the James Bond franchise movie Octopussy.
[Also check out these ideas for romantic holidays in India]
Since then, Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur has hosted an array of dignitaries and celebrities from around the world. The in house Jiva Spa offers some of the best treatments and theripies which have been inspired by Ayurveda.Then there is the Jiva Spa Boat experience and Gangaur Cruise which are unique feature of this hotel.
Why visit Udaipur in July?
The very first point is that arrival of rain ensures that the many lakes of Udaipur are replenished and the Aravali is less stark and more verdant. Monsoon also means brimming lake at their sparkling beast, respite from the heat and one of the best settings for sightseeing tour of this city which is otherwise teeming with “tourists”.
For best experiences of this royal city, chose one of the finer hotels in Udaipur. They offer relaxation, tranquility and are fine reminder of the quaint charm and a firsthand experience of the idiosyncrasies, penchant with art and decadence of the maharajas.
[Also check out top 10 heritage hotels in India]
Things to do in Udaipur would include exploring various stunning palaces, exquisite havelis and old lanes and colorful bazaars of the city.
Periyar National Park, Kerala
Periyar or Thekaddy in Kerala is one of the rare wildlife sanctuaries in India that remains open to visitors during monsoon. Since most of the safari is done on a boat, visiting Periyar which dons the emerald hues upon arrival of South West monsoon and resounds with the bird songs and animal calls is one of the most out of the box experiences in India during monsoon.
[Interested in jungle safaris? Check out ideas for wildlife holidays in India]
If it is a rejuvenation break or communion with nature that you are seeking, head straight to Spice Village. With design inspired from traditional tribal village, Spice Village with its toned down luxury is an ideal refuge for discerning travelers. With aroma of spices pervading the air, lush greenery and facilities such as spa, ayurveda, swimming pool, Spice Village is your getaway to harmony and break from humdrum of civilization.
Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh
Located 13 km from the more “touristy” Dalhousie, Khajjiar is a sylvan glade of abundant natural beauty located at an elevation of 6,400 feet in the Dauladhar range of Himalayas in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
[Here’s our take on top places to visit in Himachal Pardesh]
The innate charm of Khajjiar lies in verdant Himalayas densely populated with pine & cedar forest, sylvan expanse of meadows and tranquil surrounding The immense natural beauty of Khajjiar makes it an ideal place to visit in July if you are looking to break free from the clutters of routine life and reconnect with yourself.
[Here a guide to holidays in Himachal Pradesh]
The best thing to do in Khajjiar, as in most of the sleepy little hill stations in India is to do nothing. Let the nature embrace you and invigorate your senses. Feel the harmony in communion with nature that is both mentally and spiritually uplifting. Do nothing and you’d have done everything you came to do in Khajjiar.
If bitten by attraction and activity bug, there’s a fast disappearing lake, a nag temple, para gliding opportunities and horse riding to keep you going.
Plan your summer holiday in India at IndianHoliday.com or IndianLuxuryTrains.com