By: Anoop Sood
Shimla or Pune: The experience is unforgettable
Swirling dark clouds hovering over the sky. Hills enveloped in fog or is it mist – I have never been able to comprehend. Layers of fog rising slowly but still far below create an illusion of a river meandering through the valley.
Green hills, visible one moment and gone in a wink. The fog gradually floating up till it enters the window of my attic, creating a mystical aura, a moment of romance and a feeling mysticism. Vaguely poetic, romantic, perhaps erotic too. And the very next moment it’s gone.
Mild thunder, large drops of rain pattering on the tin roof. The sound is music to the ears as you sit in the attic. Can sit for hours listening to the music of rain beating down on the roof- ferocious angry one moment, caressing soothing the next. Gush of water rushing down the drain and the trees dripping water, lush green and shining.
Monsoon here provides much awaited respite from the oppressive heat and swarming crowds.Every street washed clean. It is enticing! So pick an umbrella, wear gumboots, tuck the pants in and off you go. A walk in the rain for ultimate high. A little, wet but excited, walking to have some more fun, yet taking care not to get drenched and catch cold. Wandering in the rain in hill-scape wrapped in fog has its own charm and July and August have this romance. Shimla has given this unfathomable pleasure all the years I spent there.
Now that I am based in Pune and not in Shimla, I have had varied experience here.It has been a rather long intense monsoon with Pune and many other parts of Maharashtra receiving record precipitation.
The monsoon is unlike Shimla but no less exciting. Fortunately, the Western Ghats and coast gets ample rainfall and my romance continues, maybe in different environment. There are many places to savour all the colours of monsoon.
Goa is the ultimate fun place. Rains land in the beginning of June- lesser crowds, persistent heavy downpour, lush green fields, angry wild sea. Hire a mobike, get into slippers, shots and ride. Its heavenly. Or get a large umbrella and walk with your beloved in this wild rain getting half drenched. Walk on the beach and watch dark angry waves trying to devour you.
Ultimate high? Hire a room in a high-end resort in south Goa with isolated beach. Late at night, Old Monk with coke premixed, undress as much as you dare, sit on the sand under pouring rain and sip your drink. Goa takes away all inhibitions. Try it.
Mahabaleshwar, a couple of hours drive from Pune, has its own charm. There are hills but not towering like the Himalayas. Thick forest, small little town. And when it pours, the rain really hits you nonstop, for days. The mystic of fog and narrow roads in forest invite you to drive and explore. Mahabaleshwar has this season beaten Chirapunji as wettest place on earth with excess of 10000 mm rainfall this year. It’s still on. Mystic of constant rain in forest, an experience, much different from Shimla but unforgettable.
About 60 km from Pune the drive to Lavasa gives the ultimate high of driving through the picturesque mountains draped in white fog, silent mist and roaring waterfalls. One of best drives you can have in rains
Monsoon in Sahyadris, the captivating mountain ranges known for its rich flora and fauna, is magical. Great treks. Low-lying mountains with innumerable forts built by Marathas. Day trek to the cloud enveloped fort with amazing view from top. Cycling expeditions. Overflowing dams.
There are many more places in and around Pune that are amazing during the rainy season that turn as pleasant as Shimla with cool comfortable weather.
Anoop Sood is former President of a Pharma Company. He is a voracious reader and a keen traveller.