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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014
Monsoon special: chasing the rains in remote India
Atisha Jain, Hindustan Times
July 12, 2014
First Published: 12:00 IST(12/7/2014)
Last Updated: 17:02 IST(13/7/2014)

In some countries, rain makes people depressed. But the monsoon in India is a harbinger of hope, balm to the sun-baked land, and a reason to smile for millions of people whose lives hinge on the rain gods. And, of course, the monsoon has played muse to some of the country's finest poets, apart from being the perfect time to conceive babies. (Well, what else can you do, really, when you are stuck indoors because the sky has turned into a waterfall?).

In other words, the monsoon is all about hopes fulfilled and romance. But let's face it. As many of us know, there is nothing romantic about rain in most Indian cities. Every year, the monsoon is a story of blocked sewers, flooded roads and insane traffic jams.

So what is the best way to bring a bit of that romance back into your life? We suggest that you take off to a monsoon destination. No, not to the much-vaunted powder beaches of Goa and the celebrated backwaters of Kerala, which will be filled with tourists. We take you, instead to other places in this gorgeous, amazing country, not so well known, that will make you fall in love with the romance of the rain all over again; places tucked away in the remote corners of the country.

We got a panel of four travel bloggers and photographers to show you the way. Get drenched in the showers of wanderlust, what are you waiting for?

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Mawsynram, Meghalaya
This is officially the wettest place on Earth. Explore caves and beautiful waterfalls around the town. The winding roads nestled in lush greenery provide glimpses of Bangladesh from time to time.
- recommended by Vishal Sabharwal
GET THERE: Take the Dibrugarh Rajdhani train from Delhi and get off at Guwahati. Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram are both a three-hour drive from there.

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Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
Move over Goa. Sindhudurg is taking over. Forts that dot the Konkan coastline stand testimony to vibrant Marathi history, like the Sindhudurg Fort, Shivaji's cenotaph which is an example of Maratha maritime supremacy. The cashew and mango orchards, virgin beaches, palaces and citadels - Sindhudurg is at its best in the monsoon.  
- recommended by Lakshmi Sharath
GET THERE: Take the Hazrat Nizamuddin-Trivandrum Central Rajdhani Express from Delhi, get off at Sawantwadi station from where it's a two-hour drive to Sindhudurg.

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Valparai, Tamil Nadu
Filled with tropical evergreen rainforests and tea plantations, Valparai, tucked away in the Annamalai Range in Tamil Nadu, is a hidden paradise. It rains and how! Delightful waterfalls cascade down from nooks and crannies of the forest, orchids and ferns thrive and the habitat is home to endangered lion-tailed macaques, Nilgiri tahrs, the great Indian hornbill and flying squirrels, among other creatures.
- recommended by Lakshmi Sharath
GET THERE: Take a train from Hazrat Nizamuddin, Delhi, to Coimbatore station, from where Valparai is a two-hour drive.

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Binsar, Uttarakhand
Popular for its National Park, Binsar is home to hundreds of species of Himalayan birds and offers breathtaking views of the mountains. Offering a panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks, Binsar is just the place to go trekking in the rain.
- recommended by Vishal Sabharwal
GET THERE: Take NH 24 from Delhi and Major District Road 65W to UP. Take the Nainital-Bhowaliroad and drive on the Almora-Bageshwar Road for the 400 km, seven-hour journey.

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Phalodi, Rajasthan
Undoubtedly one of Rajasthan's best kept secrets, the Phalodi district has salt lakes, sand dunes and several tribal villages. One of the villages connects to the Indira Gandhi canal, and flourishes with greenery all year round. But to watch the rains paint the golden dunes with traces of green, or play with reflections of a cloudy sunset on the salt lakes, is something else.
- recommended by Shivya Nath
GET THERE: Take the overnight Mandor Express from Delhi to Jodhpur and get off at Phalodi junction. From there, Bhap village is a one-hour drive.

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Dhanachuli, Uttarakhand
A picturesque village in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Dhanachuli is where I first fell in love with the monsoon in the lower Himalayas. Strolling along the winding roads, I watched the locals sit atop the roof of their stone houses, soak in majestic Himalayan sunsets, then gather in their apple orchards as the rain trickled down, sweetening the fruits of the season.
- recommended by Shivya Nath
GET THERE: Take the Shatabdi Express from Delhi to Kathgodam, from where Dhanachuli is a three-hour drive.

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Gokarna, Karnataka
Gokarna is a small temple town with some beautiful beaches and old village life. You can rent a shack on the beach or a room in the village. The rooms have colourful walls with many paintings. There is a white sand beach called Nirvana which is around three kilometre from Gokarna. Other beautiful beaches are Kudle beach and Om beach.
- recommended by Abhishek Bali
GET THERE: Take a BDTS Garib Rath train from Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin to Mumbai Borivali, then the Matsyagandha Express from Panvel Junction to Gokarna Road.

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Chakrata, Uttarakhand
In laid-back Chakrata, the mist and clouds play hide and seek almost all day long during the monsoons. Abundant in bird life and peacefully free of tourists, Chakrata is all about beauty and tranquillity.
- recommended by Vishal Sabharwal
GET THERE: Take the road from Ghaziabad via Baghpat, Shamli, Saharanpur and Vikasnagar. Chakrata is around 60 km from Vikasnagar via Kalsi and Sahiya.

Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya
Mist, waterfalls and living root bridges are what you see in Cherrapunjee. Originally called 'Sohra', the word Cherrapunjee means 'land of oranges.' Treks around the town are right out of a fairytale. It is abundant in both flora and fauna species, which are best observed during the monsoons.
GET THERE: Take the Dibrugarh Rajdhani train from Delhi and get off at Guwahati. Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram are both a three-hour drive from there.

Kanatal, Uttarakhand
A quiet little place connecting Mussoorie to Rishikesh, Kanatal is more than just a transit town. It has a thick deodar forest and offers treks with spectacular views of the Himalayas. The stillness about it makes visitors feel one with nature.
- recommended by Vishal Sabharwal
GET THERE: Take NH 58 and Rishikesh-Tehri Road/NH 94 to Mussoorie Road in Uttarakhand. Follow the Mussoorie Road to your destination in Kanatal.

Landour, Uttarakhand
Landour is much quieter than bustling Mussoorie. It's also much greener because of the Logging Act against deforestation. You can walk in the scenic lanes and have some great food at the Char Dukaan bazaar. There are 300+ bird species in Landour. And you might just be lucky enough to bump into Ruskin Bond.
- recommended by Abhishek Bali
GET THERE: Take the NH 58 from Delhi. Drive on the Saharanpur Road to NH 73 in Gagalheri. From there, take the Dehradun Road and continue on the Rajpur Road for Landour for the 272-km, five-hour journey.

OUR PANEL
Lakshmi Sharath is a media professional, travel writer and a photographer. She blogs on A Travel Blog of an Indian Backpacker.
Shivya Nath, a travel writer and a social media consultant, writes about her travels in her blog, The Shooting Star.
Vishal Sabharwal is best known for his nature/wildlife, portrait and travel photography. Check out his blog vishalsabharwal.com.
Abhishek Bali is a Delhi-based portrait and documentary photographer. Visit his photography blog, baliabhishek.com.

Follow @JainAtisha on Twitter

From HT Brunch, July 13
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