India – a country rich in tradition, history, wildlife, architecture and biodiversity is a popular tourist destination for many around the world.
What is also unique to India is the monsoon, a period of few months of heavy rainfall, which is also critical for her economy.
While a good monsoon is essential for the farmer community, it is not the best period for tourism. Tourism industry experiences a lull phase because of lack of tourists, local and international during this time.
It is quite natural that most tourists, especially people who live in cooler climates ,prefer a dry weather to visit a country like India to enjoy the beaches for the sunshine.
Steve McCurry, one of the world’s most renowned photographer thought otherwise though. I happened to accidentally glance through one of his published work titled ‘Monsoon’ in a local book store. His collection of photographs of the Indian monsoon are mind blowing and dare devil stuff, especially a tailor submerged neck deep in water yet has a huge smile on his face while holding a sewing machine is iconic.
I walked out of the book store thinking that even if I achieved 1% of the spirit of the monsoon that the legend Steve captured through his lens, then I would be one satisfied soul.
What Causes The Indian Monsoon ?
The intense heat during the summer months causes a low pressure area on the landmass of India. The ocean surrounding India remains cool though. Monsoon winds are created by the difference between the land and the ocean.
The direction of the winds are reversed during the period June-September when the land experiences extremely heavy rainfall during this period. The monsoon starts from the south and moves north wards gradually.
The heavy rainfall that is experienced during this period disrupts normal life. However, the start of the monsoon brings joy on the streets because of the intense heat prior to the arrival of the monsoon.
Photography during the monsoon is a major challenge though. Most monsoon images that you will discover on the web are most likely clicked by photo journalists who work for newspapers.
Very few attempt a monsoon photo adventure because of the obvious reason – the danger of ruining their most important asset – the camera.
There are kits available though to protect the camera. However, it is not recommended to venture out during the torrential rains. Though you have a period of non-stop rains that can last for few weeks, there is always a period of few hours when the rain stops.
When the monsoon is normal, the water may only rise to knee level. When there is heavy monsoon rains then water may rise neck deep.
You can barely notice this man submerged in the waves. He looked very tense. He sat on one of the rocks near the Marine drive in Mumbai very well knowing that the high tides were on.
He just bowed to the waves and sat for almost an hour almost telling the strong monsoon waves ‘I am a strong man. I have fought all odds in life. No matter how strong the force is, I won’t bow down to you.’
At marine drive, you will often find people taking a walk not bothering about the heavy rains.
The office building in the background in the busy commercial district of Mumbai, can barely be noticed.
For international tourists or photography enthusiasts, the choice of location for clicking the monsoon may be a concern. You might want to stay where you can get a decent stay, food, local travel etc.
It is best to stay in a city. I choose to click the monsoon in my hometown Mangalore, which is a 20 hour drive from Mumbai and about 8 hours from Bengaluru.
Mangalore is often a less explored option for foreign tourists to India. I will cover in a separate post about Mangalore, why it is a hidden gem and a must visit for tourists planning a trip to India.
Mangalore has a great wildlife park not far from the city. If you are lucky, you get to see the tigers playing in water. I was not so lucky when I visited. However, caught this deer who came out to enjoy the monsoon rains.
Wherever you go, monsoon brings the best from nature, which every life form enjoys.
Enjoy the monsoon !