While Summer time means beach season for most of the world, in India it’s the best time to head for the hills. By April, Mumbai is sweltering in the pre-monsoon humidity and Delhi and the rest of the north are sweating in the dry heat. Even the dust-laden leaves don’t stir in the absence of a breeze. While of course you should still visit the Taj Mahal if you happen to be visiting India in the summer, we’d also suggest considering some verdant, and cooler, locations during the Indian summer.
Surround Yourself in Beauty
The UNESCO protected Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand is resplendent with meadows blanketed in all hues of mountain blossoms. Also home to mountain wildlife, you may catch sight of an elusive snow leopard or brown bear while you’re there. In the adjacent state of Himachal Pradesh, the Spiti Valley has breathtaking views, quaint villages and and cool climes. You can also visit the gorgeous Buddhist monasteries of Ki and Tabo nearby.
Channel the British Raj
The term hill station was coined by the British Raj who built these summer getaways to escape the oppressive heat. In keeping with traditions of the day, most of these towns are characterised by The Mall – a throwback to the times where ladies and gentlemen took a stroll after taking high tea. While the English gentlemen may have left, the quaint towns remain. There are many hill stations in Himachal and Uttarakhand including Shimla, Dalhousie, Manali, Mussouri and Ranikhet. In the south, you can cool off with light mist, waterfalls and lush green vegetation amidst the coffee plantations of Coorg in Karnataka and detour to visit the rock cut temples in Badami. Similar in climate are Ooty and Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, that are also surrounded by verdant manicured tea plantations.
Experience Paradise on Earth
The pinnacle of summer destinations is, of course, Kashmir – christened “paradise on earth” by Babur, the first Mughal emperor. The beauty of the region is famous for good reason. Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pehelgam all offer breathtaking views of the Himalayas and a distinct culture. You can visit gorgeous Mughal gardens, see beautiful handicrafts made from papier mache or embroidery. Of course the most popular past-time in Srinagar is taking a lake tour in a shikhara or even staying in a houseboat.
Stop for Tea
In the northeast, visit tea estates and perhaps even do a tea garden trail near Darjeeling, West Bengal or in pockets of Assam. Nothing is more cooling than a refreshing cup of chai overlooking rolling hills of emerald. The tea plantations of Munnar and Thekaddy in Kerala are also famous, and while warmer temperature, they still offer some respite from the prohibitive sun. Thekaddy is also home to the Periyar wildlife sanctuary, which offers boat safaris down the backwaters.
Irrespective of whether you are heading north or south, India offers many opportunities to escape the heat and enjoy the summer.