July sees the monsoon finally setting in, drenching the country after months of clear skies, heat and humidity. And while you might be tempted to just sit in throughout the monsoon and watch the rains from the comfort of your home, there are plenty of places across India that are perfect to visit in this weather. The rains bring with them off-season hotel deals, a cool climate and the perfect atmosphere to tick off some more places from your travel list. And since it is just the start of the monsoon, you can still go on long drives without facing potholes that seem to sink right into hell. So since traveling is easier, cheaper and more comfortable right now, here are the best places to visit in India in July 2017. ALSO READ: Festivals and events in India in July 2017 that you must attend
Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir
Everyone knows about the mystical land of Ladakh. Its very name conjures up images of dusty barren mountains, looming monasteries, winding roads, small towns and villages and pristine blue lakes. And while Ladakh has changed a lot (Leh, for instance, is not the quaint town that it was years ago), it is still well worth braving the usual tourist rush. Early rainfall this year would have thinned the crowd a little, so you can still enjoy some peace and quiet. Rafting opportunities along the Indus River open up, and trekking trails remain open since the monsoon season has just begun. But make sure you are prepared to face the rains and avoid camping beside the river.
Agumbe rainforest in the monsoon
Agumbe is called the Cherrapunji of the South, and that itself should be enough to sell you on the prospects of this little town as a monsoon destination. It is located among the Sahyadri mountains, with plenty of hairpin bends that offer views of the valleys and waterfalls that flow through the region during the monsoon. The views are perfect for photography and the terrain ideal for trekking this season, so head to Agumbe and take the trail to Sringeri, Narasimha Parvatha and Barkana Falls. Visit this hill station and you will realize why this was the perfect setting for Malgudi Days, the series based on R K Narayan’s classic tales.
Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
Imagine lush green forests, ancient temples and historic places and rain, and you have Orchha. Located in the Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh, this rustic little city lies at the convergence of seven streams that make up the Betwa River. Its name literally translates to Hidden Place, and it remains a hidden treasure for travelers despite gaining popularity in the past years. The rainfall here is not as intense as in the rest of the country, so this makes for a good place to escape if rains are not your thing. You can explore the Orchha fort complex, including the Raj Mahal and Rai Parveen Mahal, and other historic marvels here, or simply watch the river flow in peace.
Udaipur, the City of Lakes, has a unique beauty and charm to it in the monsoon months. The ancient palaces, lakes and the rains turn this into a romantic paradise. You cannot miss out on visiting the historic Lake Palace or Lake Pichola, or the Saheloyon ki Bari, Jag Mandir, Ambrai Ghat, Lake Fateshsagar, Sajjan Garh and Kumbhalgarh fort this time of the year. Since the monsoon would have just started this year, the temperature would be cool but the sun would still be shining, and the rains won’t spoil as much of the fun as it would later on in the season.
The village and hill station of Kausani lies in the state of Uttarakhand and is popular for its 350 km long stretch of the Himalayas far up north and being the home of renowned poet Sumitra Nandan Pant. But this poet was not the only one to sing praises of Kausani. Mahatma Gandhi famously called this place the Switzerland of India because of the Alp-like settings. Monsoon rains here are not too severe, and you can still see the famed mountain peaks of the Himalayas like Nanda Devi, Panchchuli and Trishul from here. Plus there is the Pant museum in honor of the poet, the Bajinath Katyuri and Garur valleys and the famous Anashakti Ashram to visit.
Ooty, Tamil Nadu
The famous hill station of Ooty is the second highest one in Tamil Nadu after Kodaikanal, and receives mild rainfall during July, just enough to drop the temperature and turn the mornings and nights misty. While the summer sun still reigns over the afternoon, the rest of the day is cool and pleasant here, perfect for some rest and relaxation or recreation. July, in fact, starts the season of romantic tourists in this hill station, with couples flocking to Ooty’s most romantic sights, like Avalanche Lake, Emerald Lake, Kamaraj Sagar dam, rose garden and the Mukurthi national park. NOW READ: A photo walk through the picturesque hill station Ooty
Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh
From the southern hills station of Ooty we move to the famous Dalhousie and its pine-clad valleys. The small town is built over five hills and the monsoon weather here is, once again, very pleasant and agreeable to most visitors. Rain is present but mild during the initial weeks of monsoon, but the greenery surrounding Dalhousie already begins to turn a brighter shade by then. Perfect for families, couples and anyone else who wants to relax and simply enjoy mountain views, this is a hill station that has been a favorite for everyone for centuries, ever since the Britishers developed this place and the people of pre-independence Lahore turned it into a holiday spot.
Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand
Valley of Flowers
The Valley of Flowers, named aptly for the vast variety of flowers that bloom across this valley in Uttarakhand, is best visited in July. Monsoon is when the flowers bloom, and the rains would not have set too much in this month to make it difficult to reach the place. From wild roses to geraniums and blue corydalis, you can find all kinds of flowers in bloom here at this time. The beauty of this vast valley is so immense that it has even been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The valley is a 3-day trek from Haridwar, with the last motorable point being Govindghat.
West Sikkim, Sikkim
The district of West Sikkim is one of the greenest and least explored parts of the state, with plenty of hill stations, waterfalls, lakes and valleys to explore. Perfect for the winter, West Sikkim can also offer a lot during July. Yuksom, for instance, has plenty of historical sites to remember its time as the capital of the ancient state. There is also the Pemayangtse monastery near Pelling, one of the oldest monasteries in the state, the Rangeet River dam, and the scenic Hee Bermiok region. West Sikkim is also considered a trekker’s paradise, with plenty of trails on offer, like the famous and really long Singalila and Goecha La trek.
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
Finally, we end with the birthplace of the Dalai Lama, Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. The place is expectedly steeped in Tibetan Buddhist culture, with the massive and imposing Tawang monastery hogging most of the limelight. A visit to this place cannot be completed without visiting the namesake monastery. July sees occasional showers before the monsoon starts in earnest, and the temperature is still warm and pleasant enough to allow plenty of exploration throughout the day without worrying about freezing up. The rains also catalyze Tawang’s relatively lesser-known street food scene. NOW READ: How to plan a Tawang Trip: Everything you need to know!
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