12 quirky monsoon experiences to experience in India
Spectacular skies, fishing boats floating in the waves, rain-washed sunsets and splendid views of the Arabian Sea; Mumbai has several places to enjoy a meal with a view or a seaside stay during the monsoon. In Colaba, the Sea Lounge on the first floor of the former wing of the Taj Mahal palace (tajhotels.com) is an institution that offers colonial charm, Art Deco interiors, live piano music and the customary coffee, cream and chocolate dessert, Café Viennoise. No reservation for romantic tables for two near the window; arrive early to take a seat. For other captivating views of the Queen’s Necklace, head to the Eau Bar at Oberoi Mumbai (oberoihotels.com) or Dome, the rooftop bar on the Intercontinental Marine Drive (ihg.com). At Juhu facing the sea, proceed to Soho House (sohohouse.com) for a sunset, sip a cocktail at the JW Marriott’s Oceanfront Reflections Bar or enjoy dimsums, sushi and more in the open-air section of their Asian restaurant, Dashanzi (marriott.com).
Rafting the mighty Siang in Arunachal Pradesh
Originally from Tibet under the name Yarlung Tsangpo, the Siang descends a series of gorges through the Arunachal, before joining the Yamne, Lohit and Dibang to sink in the form of the mighty Brahmaputra. The volume of water it carries increases even more during the rains. The full rafting stretch from Tuting to Pasighat is a week-long 180 km race from Purung, the launch site. The treacherous Upper Siang is expedition level with class 4-6 rapids; the 2-day Lower Siang is most doable with Class 3-4 rapids — Hairy Hari, Moing Madness, Karko Killer, Geku Wave, and Begging Rollercoaster. Drive past the Boleng and Komsing Suspension Bridge to Pangin amid mesmerizing landscapes, wooded hills, jagged rock formations, and Rottung and Big Pongging Rapids, ending at Ranaghat Bridge. Prepare to get wet, whether in heavy rain or in the rapids. Spend the night on sandy embankments and grassy campsites while trying local rod fishing. From Abor Country River Camp in Pasighat, visit Adi Padum villages and help transplant rice to paddy fields. Travels and expeditions in the land of Abor (aborcountrytravels.com) organizes Siang Rush Rafting Festival and custom trips to the area.
How to get there: Fly to Dibrugarh and drive 158 km to Pasighat.
Wet weather farming and fishing in Maharashtra
Inspired by the machaans erected in fields to protect crops, Maachli Farmstay (maachli.in) in Parule is the perfect place for a hands-on farming experience in the rains. Nestled in a picturesque village on the Konkan coast, the farm is reached by a short walk through dense foliage and a walkway across a stream. Settle into one of their four village-themed cottages with conical thatched roofs and enjoy their interactive cuisine. Learn how organic, farm-fresh dishes are prepared on a mud stove and served in earthenware pots, areca fronds, and patravali (leaf plates). Milk a cow, draw water from a well, or learn to use a laath, the traditional way of drawing water from the stream for irrigation. Too much work? Swing your legs in the cool stream for a natural fish spa. Visit a potters’ village, the local avath (village society) or take a tour of the plantations. Take a short walk to the Bandheshvaray temple of the gurakhi (shepherd) community or hike to the ancient waterfront devanti (sacred grove) of Dungeshwar, a god of the local Kolis. For something a little more challenging, try the 2.5-hour rainy sunset hike to the beach through coconut groves, mango orchards, forests, and hills.
Access: Kudal, 20 km north of Sawantwadi on the Mumbai-Goa highway, is the nearest train station and access point, from where the farm is 22 km via SH-119.