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Tired of no-travel?

Here’s a ready reckoner of the places you can visit this monsoon, albeit with Covid caution

Aniruddha Biswas   |   Published 23.07.21, 02:10 AM

Monsoon is magical in India though many prefer to stay in the confines of their homes during the months of July-August. But here’s a tip — if you want to experience Incredible India in its lush greenery, dewy surroundings, cascading waterfalls and off-season perks, look no further than this list.

Domestic

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  • Leh: With glacial lakes, towering mountains and beautiful barrenness, this place is undoubtedly on every traveller’s bucket list. Leh, in Ladakh, is in a trans-Himalayan region, meaning a rain-shadow area. Hence, when the rest of India copes with showers, Leh stays dry barring the occasional downpour.
  • How to reach: Pathankot, Chandigarh and Kalka are the closest railway stations to Leh. Or you can fly to the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee airport.
  • Things to do: White water rafting, trekking. Visit the gompas. A lot of festivals are organised in this period.

On arrival, all tourists must carry a negative RT-PCR report not older than 96 hours. Or, they would have to take mandatory Covid-19 test and quarantine on arrival. All passengers must also download the Aarogya Setu app. A Rapid Antigen Test will be conducted on all tourists on arrival, irrespective of having -ve RT-PCR report.
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  • Kerala: Showers cast an alluring spell on God’s Own Country. In fact, this state has two monsoon periods — June to August and October to November. The green paradise with its serene backwaters transport you to tranquility and there’s, of course, the sand and surf too.
  • How to reach: Kerala is well-connected by four airports — Kannur, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. More than 500 trains connect Kerala to the rest of India.
  • Things to do: Definitely get an Ayurvedic massage. Carry a camera around, every picture backdrop is worth it. Stay in a tree-house resort. Do visit Munnar and Wayanad. Or simply lose yourself in serenity watching the swaying coconut trees.

Travellers who have double-dose vaccine certificate and are not showing any Covid-19 symptoms will not need RT-PCR report. Passengers who have been fully vaccinated but have developed symptoms of Covid-19 would need to get the RT-PCR test done. In such cases where symptoms are present, the travellers, even vaccinated ones, would need to carry a negative RT-PCR with them to enter the state.
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  • Kodaikanal: This ‘Princess of Hill Stations’ exudes an ethereal charm in the monsoon months when rivers start overflowing and the cascading waterfalls become mightier. The enchanting land becomes a treat for sore eyes with the scenic landscapes conveying a sense of awe.
  • How to reach: The closest airports are Madurai, Trichy and Coimbatore. Kodai Road is the nearest station.
  • Things to do: Visit Coaker’s Walk, go boating on the Kodaikanal Lake and savour coffee chocolates.

Fourteen days of self-monitoring for all passengers from other states/UT. All travellers are required to register on website and obtain e-pass at https://tnepass.tnega.org/
All negative reports will be verified by a medical team. Passengers from other countries should have negative RT-PCR test report (test taken within 72 hours prior to the arrival) and undergo 14 days of home quarantine.

Picture by the author
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  • Dharamshala: Spellbinding snow-mountains, rolling valleys and verdant forests, July-August is one of the best times to visit. Though the rain is a bit unpredictable and the terrain can get a bit tricky, the place is at its greenest. If nothing works, curl up with a book in your hotel room.
  • How to reach: The nearest airport is Gaggal, near Kangra. If you are travelling by train, alight at Pathankot.
  • Things to do: Visit the cricket stadium amidst the Dhauladhar range. Go to the Namgyal monastery in McLeodganj. Go shopping for Tibetan stuff. If lucky, you can get to meet the Dalai Lama even.

According to reports, those not wearing masks will either have to pay Rs 5,000 as penalty or be put behind bars for eight days. Please be well-informed about travel guidelines and vaccine documentation.
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  • Darjeeling: This may come as a surprise to many but our fave Darjeeling has its monsoon followers as well — off-beaters and shutterbugs looking for a different view. Mist-laden mountainous roads, white clouds enveloping you as you go around the Queen of Hill Stations devoid of tourists, is something we have all wished for at some time.
  • How to reach: Bagdogra is the nearest airport while the nearest railhead is New Jalpaguri railway station (NJP)
  • Things to do: Hop on to the Toy Train, visit Glenary’s or Keventer’s for breakfast. Visit the zoo and, of course, you shouldn’t miss the tea here.

Tourists from outside Bengal have to carry double-dose vaccination certificate or a negative RT-PCR report not older than 48 hours when they arrive.

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  • Rajasthan: Celebrated for its palaces and forts, this desert state transforms itself during the rains. In fact, it will soon be promoted as a monsoon destination. Two places deserve special mention.
  • Mt. Abu: Nestled in the lap of the greenest Aravallis during this season, this is a must-visit for any pluviophile.
  • How to reach: The nearest airport is in Udaipur, 210km away and the closest railhead is Abu Road.
  • Things to do: Boat rides on Nakki Lake, rock climbing, visit the Dilwara Jain temples.

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  • Udaipur: Just to get you started, this place has a monsoon palace, also known as the Sajjan Garh Palace, overlooking the Fateh Sagar Lake.
  • How to reach: Udaipur has a domestic airport and the rail station is well-connected.
  • Things to do: Go for a sunset cruise on Lake Pichola, the braver ones can opt for a cable car ride between Sri Karni Mata Temple and Deendayal Upadhyay Park. You can go shopping or enjoy the light-and-sound show at Kumbhalgarh Fort.

A Covid -ve report is required (tested 72 hours prior). If one has received the first vaccination dose, they can use that certificate to travel without an RT-PCR test. People going to to Udaipur will have to upload a copy of their RT-PCR negative report on http://emitra.rajasthan.
gov.in
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  • Goa: Is there any travel list that Goa does not make it to?! Don’t expect the ‘psy’ scene at this time but this is the greenest Goa one can hope to see. The cloud cover over the Arabian Sea looks magical and the less influx of tourists makes it an absolute must-go destination this July-August.
  • How to reach: Take a flight to Dabolim Airport. If travelling via train, one needs to reach Madgaon or Vasco-da-Gama rail stations.
  • Things to do: Try the Goan fish curry rice. Adventure junkies can indulge in bungee jumping, flyboarding, paintball or water sports. Major festivals are held at this time.

Tourists from other places with vaccination certificates will be allowed to enter without an RT-PCR negative report. News is that soon two doses of the vaccine will be made mandatory for tourists, along with a negative RT-PCR test.
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International

  • Maldives: This alluring island nation has been a fave haunt of celebs and why not? Though it’s hot and humid in July-August, on the flip side, it’s the best time to ride the surf. It has some of the most pretty tropical islands. Stunning white sand, blue lagoons, and dotted with coconut trees, it really doesn’t get any better than this. Tourists are reportedly flying into Maldives since it reopened for Indian visitors from July 15. “The phone hasn’t stopped ringing for people wanting to visit the Maldives or Russia and seeking travel info,” said Anil Punjabi, chairman (eastern region), Travel Agents Federation of India. He added: “Slowly but surely more countries will open up. Vaccination is an additional passport for vacation.”
  • How to reach: Male International Airport (MLE) is the main airport, which connects the Maldives to all major countries in South-East Asia.
  • Things to do: Diving, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing. Don’t forget to dig into the exotic cuisine

Tourists will have to produce a negative RT-PCR report done within 72 hours prior to travel. Those who have taken both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will not have to undergo the mandatory quarantine. Visitors also need to download an app, TraceEkee, and wear masks in public. They also need to submit a health declaration online 24 hours before arrival.
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  • Russia: It is generally hot in the largest country in the world during this time but on the flip side, places like Moscow and St Petersburg don’t witness massive footfall. Travel gurus believe the best time to visit is from June to August, experiencing light evenings and pleasant temperatures of 21-25°C. The days are longer, translating into more outdoor time for sightseeing. It’s also the ideal period for travellers who want to see Mongolia on the Trans-Siberian Railway. One can also get to witness multiple cultural events during this time. It’s the best place on earth to see the natural wonders.
  • How to reach: All flights to Moscow operate from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Delhi has a direct flight to Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow via Aeroflot, which takes about six hours.
  • Things to do: Check out the palaces, museums and galleries to feast your eyes on world-renowned art and architecture. One can opt for walking and mountain bike tours. The canal tour is unmissable. Take a cruise on the Volga, Europe’s longest river.

Foreign citizens planning to fly into Russia, including transit passengers, are required to provide a negative Covid-19 PCR-test result in order to check in and board the flight. Passengers must be tested within 72 hours of flight departure. They will also be required to complete a special form during the flight.

Pictures sourced from Google Images



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