Monsoon in India - Here's what you need to know

The monsoon in India depends on two seasonal winds; the Southwest Monsoon known as Summer Monsoon and Northeast monsoon popularly known as Winter Monsoon. The Summer Monsoon starts from June and is through till Mid-October; the Winter Monsoon is from October to December. The south-west monsoon brings most of the rainfall during the year in the country.

Mawsynram and Cherrapunji; wettest place on the earth

India is one such country in the world which is blessed with adequate rainfall. The amount of rainfall is different in different parts of the country. The place that receives the highest rainfall not only in the country but in the world is in the north-Eastern part of India, Mawsynram. It is a village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. It receives an annual rainfall of 11,872 millimetres. The second wettest land in the world is Cherrapunji which is almost in the same region close to Mawsynram. Travel to this region should definitely be avoided during monsoon time.

Cherrapunji – one of wettest place in the world

Although people from across the world travel to India throughout the year, the months from October to March is the season where the country experiences the maximum tourists visit. Normally the months of summer are too hot and the months of winter are pleasant except for the places in plains. However there are places in India which would be best visited during monsoon season like Goa, Ladhak and Leh, Parts of places in South India like Mysore, etc.

Some major cities like, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad receive comparatively less rain during summer monsoon. The states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala get most of its rainfall from the winter monsoon, from October to December.

What to expect during monsoon in India?

India is a developing country and the actual India is not what it looks like in metros. Most of the places in India are under developed and lacks good infrastructure. Some of the things that can be mentioned are bad roads, pedestrian paths (footpaths), bad quality of restaurants or shelters in remote places and villages, good commutation facilities.

The unmade mud packed roads sometimes get so much worse that it becomes impossible to drive your way through it. Some of the tourists’ places lack even the basic essentials like toilets or motels. Since you cannot expect to stop your vehicle at the doorstep of your destination, getting drenched and falling sick with cold and fever becomes part of your travel. The situation becomes even worse if you are planning to take public transport since most of the tourist places are remotely situated and the transport facilities are not all that great.

Maintaining hygiene becomes much more difficult in the rainy season. The food you opt to eat on streets or open restaurants can get easily contaminated with water splashes or the flies population that increases during monsoon season due to stagnant water pits serving as open homes for the growth of infectious insects and flies. This is also one of the reasons for the growth of mosquitoes thereby increasing the chances of diseases like dengue, malaria, typhoid, cholera among other diseases.

"Kanchipuram monsoon"
Kanchipuram South India during the monsoon. Source: mckaysavage’s photostream

With the heavens pouring in on some of the major cities, drainage becomes a problem causing flooding in the cities and bringing the routine life to halt. The traffic gets still and the routes get blocked forcing to take diversions, especially Mumbai is infamous for heavy rains and flooded roads. If you need to catch a flight or take a bus then it is good idea to plan and start a head of time.

If you plan to visit India and travel in the monsoon season then there are several things that need to be worked on before you hit the roads.

• Make your research on the places you plan to visit in India. Your research must be water oriented – how much rains to expect in the place, when to expect it, what is the place like, the facilities and infrastructures of the place, is the place travellers friendly, about the local people, where are you going to stay, what special things to be packed for that place, etc.

• If you have already not planned for any places then it would be a good idea to choose the places that receive less or no rainfall to avoid adventure while you travel!

• Do not be overwhelmed with the unpredictable rains that hit the place without warnings and also the amount of rainfall. Just be prepared with your monsoon gear and you are done with fun without worries.

• You need to be extremely cautious with drinking water in India especially when you visit India in the monsoon seasons.

• Be prepared with ‘plan b’ in case of delayed or cancelled trains or planes or other public transports especially during monsoons (which is very possible in India).

"India southwest summer monsoon"
India southwest summer monsoon onset map. Source: Wikimedia Commons

You can experience some day-to-day problems that can become horrifying if you are not all that used to such circumstances. Keeping clothes dry becomes difficult which soon starts smelling damp. Power cuts and failures happen almost every day and can last for hours.

The good news is that visiting India in monsoon is still possible. You are sure to see the other side of colourful India during monsoon and also avail the low air fares and costs of stay during this season.

More about seasons and climate of India here

India Travel Health Guide: Health Advice and Tips for Travelers to India

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