May means sweltering heat and a confined air-conditioned existence. Quite an anti-thesis to a travel lover’s idea of good times. Even as a large part of the country shrivels up from scorching summer, there are places where cool breeze, warm sunshine, dew-decked mornings and nippy evenings are still a reality. Add to that, a slowed down pace of life, where you can spend an unhurried morning sipping on your coffee on a swing, and you wonder why you are still sitting in a cubicle, staring at a computer screen.
Here is my pick of the best places to visit in May that’ll make you want to pack your bags and leave:
If you seek the nature’s extravagance of Ladakh minus the teeming crowds, Spiti in Himachal is the destination for you. Spiti, which literally translates to The Middle Land, is characterised by a rugged mountainscape. Home to some of the oldest Buddhist monasteries like Kye and Tabo, panoramic landscape, jagged terrain, quaint villages that seem to have been stuck in time, the region is blessed with abundant beauty that will sweep you off your feet. Dhankar Gompa, Chandratal Lake, Pin Valley National Park, Komick Village, Lahaul Valley and Trilokinath Temple are some of the most sought after attractions here. Bike rides, river rafting, treks to Dhankar Lake and Hampta Pass and camping at Chandratal are highly recommended to enjoy Spiti’s raw natural beauty up close. The region has hostile weather conditions for better part of the year, so summer, starting May, is the best time to visit as temperature rise up to a bearable range of 18 to 25 degrees.
Replicating the tranquil aura of Spiti in the far east is Tawang, a destination that can be best described as a panacea for adventure seekers and mountain lovers. A place dotted with restful monasteries in the lap of lush green mountains, clear water streams, nature trails and exotic bird species. There is nothing quite as rejuvenating as waking up to the sight of clouds hanging by your window or walking through a haze of mist on lush green trails, and that’s exactly what Tawang has to offer. Treks, hikes, nature walks and skiing are some of the ways to explore this place. To make the most of your holiday, add top attractions like Gorichen Peak, Bap Teng Kang, Madhuri Lake, Bum La Pass, Bhajagang lake, Pankang Teng Tso, Tawang Monastery and Tawang War Memorial to your itinerary. The temperature tends to hinge on the cooler side even during peak summer, fluctuating between 3 and 18 degrees, so don’t forget to pack your woollens.
For those living in the southern part of the country, the Nilgiris offer a quiet and quaint retreat to beat the summer heat. With its sprawling tea and coffee plantations, lush gardens and a serene lake set it the heart of it all, Ooty makes for the perfect escapade. A short distance away is the laid-back town of Kotagiri, which boasts of being one of the oldest hill settlements in the Nilgiris. Offering a spectacular panoramic view of the mountains, the natural green setting of Kotagiri blending in with perfectly clear blue skies is another ideal Summer getaway. While you are here, venture into the surrounding areas to explore hidden gems like the Catherine Falls, Elk Falls, Longwood Shola, Rangaswamy Peak and Pillar, and John Sullivan Memorial. Apart from nature walks, treks, rock climbing and visiting the plantations, a ride on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway toy train is highly recommended.
For those whose idea of a holiday is synonymous with beaches, waves, sun and sand, the Kadmat Island, which is part of the 36 islands that form the Lakshadweep cluster, is just the right summer retreat. Also known as the Cardamom Island, this quiet haven is marked by vibrant corals and white sandy beaches. Distance from the mainland reflects in the clarity and quality of the sea water here. Juxtaposed with expansive stretches of green, it is a holiday destination all about freshness and peace. The rich marine life comprising sea weeds, sea urchins, sea birds, swordfish, eels, octopus, apart from a large variety if fish and live corals, is a delight for nature lovers. The Kadmat Island, much like the rest of Lakshadweep, enjoys a tropical climate all year round, with temperatures in the range of 25-35 degrees, just right for you to be able to enjoy without huffing-puffing and melting away in sweat. While you are there, explore the ancient Buddhist remains at Andrott Island and Minicoy sailboats at Golden Jubilee Museum, besides indulging in diving, kayaking, and swimming in clear ocean waters.