Fortunately, you don't have to avoid traveling to India during the monsoon, or even stay indoors all the time. Travel to some places in India is actually preferable during the monsoon season. Here are nine top India monsoon travel destinations -- some for those who love the rain, and some for those who don't!
For a different kind of monsoon experience, you might also want to consider a stay at one of these tranquil tree house hotels in India.
Feel like avoiding the monsoon completely? Head to Ladakh! Leh, in the furthest far flung corner of northern India, has become a popular tourist destination since Ladakh was opened to foreigners in 1974. Bounded by two of the world's largest mountain ranges and surrounded by alpine desert, its dry barren landscape full of historic Buddhist monasteries makes it an incredible sight to behold. Leh is cut off by road from the rest of the world for most of the year, except from June to October when the snow has melted, although it's accessible by flight all year. Try to be there for the Hemis Festival.
Already been to Ladakh or just want to go somewhere more off-the-beaten track in India? Try Spiti! This high-altitude world within a world in remote Himachal Pradesh is bordered by Ladakh in the north, Tibet to the east, Kinnaur to the southeast, and the Kullu Valley to the south. It's only accessible from May to October, most conveniently from Manali (see photos of the road from Manali to Spiti). All kinds of activities are possible there, from yak safaris to volunteering in villages.
The stunning landscape of The Valley of Flowers, in northern India's mountainous state of Uttarakhand comes alive with the monsoon rain. This high-altitude Himalayan valley has around 300 different varieties of flowers, which appear as a bright carpet of color against a mountainous snow capped background. The Valley of Flowers is only open from April to October as it's covered in snow the rest of the year. It's the perfect destination for those that love hiking and exploring nature, as it requires a 15 kilometer (9 mile) trek up a steep mountain trail to get there.
Kerala Tourism has transformed Kerala into a sought after monsoon season destination. The Kerala Tourism Development Corporation has special discounted summer and monsoon packages listed on its website. The rainy season is ideal for getting an Ayurvedic treatment, because the atmosphere helps the body’s pores to open up, making it most receptive. In addition, Kerala's Periyar National Park remains open during the rainy season, unlike most other national parks in India. Snake boat races are also held in Kerala during the monsoon, along with the state's biggest festival, Onam. If you're into culture, don't miss The Blue Yonder's Hop-On Hop-Off Monsoon Trail along the River Nila.
Although it won’t be possible to enjoy the sun, sand and surf during the monsoon, Goa has lots more to offer than just the beach! There’s some spectacular scenery to explore, vibrant monsoon festivals to take part in, the thrill of white water rafting to experience, and fishing to try your luck at as well. What makes travel to Goa even more attractive at this time of year are the specials offered by hotels to lure customers. Luxury that costs a small fortune during the peak season is much more affordable during the monsoon. Check out the prices of these five star resorts in Goa, for example. Here's what to expect in Goa during the monsoon season.
If you're someone who REALLY loves the rain, then head to Meghalaya in India's northeast region. The "Abode of the Clouds", this state is renowned for being the wettest place on earth, and Cherrapunji in particular! The state has an abundance of natural attractions, including ancient living root bridges. Here's what to see and do in Meghalaya. Don't miss the three-day Beh Deinkhlam festival of the Pnar tribe, which takes place in mid July in the Jaintia hills.
Western Ghat Mountains
Another popular destination for rain lovers, the Western Ghats come alive in the monsoon season. They say the grass really is greener there! This mountainous range runs parallel to the western coast of India, from near the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra all the way to Tamil Nadu. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and biodiversity hotspot. During the monsoon season, the Western Ghats attracts adventurous monsoon trekkers, who don't mind the relentless rain, mud and leeches (it's possible to get 20 leeches on you just from a short 1 hour trek, so be prepared!).
One of Rajasthan's classic tourist destinations, Bundi is about three hours south of Jaipur. The city has particular appeal during the monsoon season when it's especially peaceful and uncrowded, and the lake swells. Unlike many places in India, Rajasthan doesn't receive torrential rain. At most, downpours usually last a few hours at a time. Spend your time wandering through evocative ancient lanes, past blue homes adorned with murals, or sitting in a rooftop restaurant overlooking the town. Other attractions include sprawling Bundi Palace with its famed miniature paintings, temples, step wells, and a ramshackle fort. Try and be there to catch Teej Festival celebrations, usually in August each year, featuring a colorful street parade.
Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
Want to chase the monsoon? Or just experience it as it energetically arrives on the Indian mainland? The town of Kanyakumari, in Tamil Nadu, is situated at the southernmost point of India and is the first place the southwest monsoon hits (in late May or early June). You'll have a panoramic view of the storm as it rolls in from the ocean.