Mumbai: As rain clouds gather over India's southern tip, the long Indian summer might be on its way out, and with it, peak travel season. But come the rains, the travel industry is gung-ho about wooing takers to some of the lesser-tread gems across India. Be it vintage hand-painted advertisements or the current slick ones on the telly, one is typically familiar with frames of children playing in the snow or families soaking up the sun on the beach. Get the picture? But where do people travel when the sun goes away, the rain clouds appear, and schools reopen? Several places, is what we discovered.

State bound

“One would think that people would want to stay indoors during the rains, but Maharashtra gets gorgeous at this time,” says Sudeepta Sanyal, co-founder of adventure travel company Blueberry Trails. Adventure travel has received a big push in the past few years with more than a dozen companies in the city offering services for rappelling, rock climbing and much more. Maharashtra’s forts are an added attraction. “There are several destinations around Mumbai for those who seek an active holiday. Most trips are centered on forts such as Harishchandragad and Prabalgad. Many are in ruin yet people like to visit them,” adds Jayesh Morvankar, founder of Odati Adventures. The natural surroundings of these treks also bring in added incentives.

Tourists at Panjim’s Saint Mary’s Church

“We conduct a trip to Amboli, near Sindhudurg. Apart from the waterfall walk we include a performance by the local Pinguli puppeteers, so even if it rains we can enjoy the night under shelter. It is important to absorb the local culture apart from the natural beauty,” maintains Sanyal. Local cuisine also forms a big draw on trips as Morvankar informs us that several travellers are interested in staying with the locals on such breaks. Maharashtra’s weather and geography is such that adventure travellers consider winter as an off season since waterfalls, rivers and greenery is at abundance during the monsoon. Young professionals who hold weekends dear and are constantly on the lookout for quiet abodes mostly seek out such getaways.

Goa works as an all-year destination with good deals during the off season too

Looking beyond

“There is no denying that it is a low season post summer as far as those who travel with families are concerned. However, there are a few spots that are popular during this period too. Kerala is a big draw for Ayurvedic therapies as it is considered best to experience these in the monsoon. Goa rules the roost as travellers can avail of great deals during the off-season. There isn’t much demand for the North or the

North East,” says Thomas CT, Head, Corporate Communications, Cox and Kings India Ltd. Goa might be a hotspot for yuppies to guzzle down beer during the summer, but it holds an entirely different travel industry post it. “33 percent of Goa is under forest cover hence the forests and wildlife sanctuaries of Goa offer great sights for nature lovers.

For other destinations, monsoon is a transition period. So, those who are interested in bird watching travel post the monsoon, as it is the right time to watch birds during the breeding season. For example, birds like the Brown-Headed or the Black-headed Gull might be seen in Mumbai, but their breeding plumage can only be seen during the breeding season in the areas they migrate to,” shares Atul Sathe of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). Come September and BNHS conducts several national trips to places such as Talle Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh and to sanctuaries in the neighbouring state of Karnataka.

Spiti Valley is a popular destination post summer

Hills are alive

But for those who loathe the rains, Ladakh, Valley of Flowers and Spiti seem to be unanimous favourites with almost every travel company offering trips to these destinations. “Ladakh is a rain-shadow area while Spiti is pristine, a non-tourist spot, and a simple-living destination.

Workaholics save up for their holidays, and prefer to not waste it at locales that are milling with people or would remind them of Mumbai again,” reasons Sanyal. Communications professional and regular traveller, 26-year-old Devika Batra echoes Sanyal’s thoughts, “No one would want to waste their prized vacation at a place that is crowded and expensive. Places such as Kaziranga, Cherapunji and the

Sunderbans remain my favourites, but post summer, Rajasthan is a place to visit, especially Udaipur. One would have the perception of Rajasthan being a dry dessert, but it is green with its lakes and lush hills.”

Blueberry Trails includes local cultural flavours such as Pinguli puppets on their trip to Amboli

Courtesy: Mid-day