In many ways, chasing the monsoons is Southern India’s answer to the ‘Leh-Manali road trip on a Bullet’ that every adventure junkie in India worth his salt craves for. And if you’re a first timer, you might argue that how can the act of gazing lazily at the skies on a Kerala beach in anticipation of the pregnant nimbus be hailed as an ‘adventure’? At that point all you got to do is wait for the thrill that awaits you when the sky above the Arabian Sea turns dark and the first monsoon showers hits India via Kerala in the first week of June.
Chasing the monsoon for the first time can be one of your most revered and surprising experiences because most travelers actually do not know what to expect from such a sojourn. So for starters, how about choosing from a list of some of the most visited tourist destinations in Kerala where you will not just enjoy the rains but also be able to do much more – all in the great Indian monsoon spirit!
One of the oldest port cities on the Arabian Sea coastline, Kochi has always been an important trading centre since the early days of this millennia. But what sets Kochi apart as ideal monsoon destinations are the moody and distinct tourist districts of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. With synagogues, ancient mosques, Chinese fishing nets and numerous churches dotting its serene environment, Kochi – once an ancient spice market, will embrace you with its unique flavours that cannot be found anywhere else in the country. Mattancherry, on the other hand, is home to ‘Jew Town’ – an ancient Jewish settlement from where the Jews first started trading in India.
Onam is another big reason that makes Kochi special during the monsoons every year. Celebrated at the end of August annually, Onam celebrations showcase Kerala’s rich cultural heritage and the town is rife with displays of folk dances like Kathakali and Mohini Attam and of Kalaripayattu – the world’s oldest martial arts.
About half an hour’s drive from Trivandrum lies the Kovalam beach which is said to receive the very first monsoon showers in all of India. Now imagine that you are at that beach and witnessing the very first showers that bring joy to over a billion people across the sub-continent. Priceless! These are experiences that you’ll never tire of sharing with your friends, your children and even your grand children. With the arrival of monsoons, the city of Trivandrum envelopes itself into a lovely hue of green and is coupled with Onam celebrations all over. It’s a happy place to be in after the first showers.
Alleppey can be referred to as the epicenter of backwater tourism in Kerala. Located about 50 kilometers from Kumarakom, this quaint backwater destination is an ideal spot to relax and watch the monsoon rains fall ferociously on the flowing waters that ultimately merge into the mighty Vembanad lake – India’s largest. Do check on the boat houses in advance because many shut shop during the rainy seasons but you won’t have any problems getting one. The numerous resorts that dot the coastline of the backwaters are also great options to sit back and watch the rains fall. It therapeutic! And while on a boat ride, stop by the many villages and savour the local cuisine served fresh on banana leaves. This also includes the fish that your host might have ‘fished’ right after your arrival.