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Monsoon Road Trips from Mumbai

The hills are alive this monsoon. The best way to feel the cool winds and witness the mountain storms is to do it on one’s own terms – behind the wheel

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Here are some top recommendations for your next best road trip in this season of Monsoon. Pixabay

The floods in Mumbai have been in the news lately, an annual chaos that seems to have become part and parcel of life in the country’s financial capital. However, the monsoons are not a season to dread and just outside the city, as the curious traveller ventures higher into the Western Ghats, there are some picture-perfect destinations for the season. Here are some top recommendations.

Lonavala
Lonavala would be on top of the monsoon destination list for most Mumbaikars. Wrapped in fog, this historic region gains a completely new avatar in the rains as the forested mountain slopes regenerate and the waterfalls come to life. One of these is Kune Falls, which roars amidst a pristine verdant scenery.

The Lohagad Fort has always been one of the most captivating sites on this route and the monsoon mist gives it an allure straight of a medieval-theme video game or movie. A trek to Liones Point is recommended – the season would require special precautions like monsoon-ready footwear and waterproof clothing. While in Lonavala town, a visit to the lake is not a bad idea.

Khandala
Just next to Lonavala, one can reach the quaint hill town of Khandala, perched at close to 2000 feet above sea level. The mild monsoon temperatures and dramatic scenery make this place an ideal weekend getaway from the bustling metro, not to mention the splendorous drive on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Some of the popular viewpoints here are the Tiger’s Leap and the Amrutanjan Point. Other attractions here include the Buddhist cave temples at Karla and the calm and placid Bhushi Lake.

khandala
The mild monsoon temperatures and dramatic scenery make Khandala an ideal weekend getaway from the bustling metro.

Mahabaleshwar
A jewel tucked in the lap of the mighty Sahyadari Mountains; Mahabaleshwar offers visitors a curious mix of colonial heritage and striking Indian history. Built by Shivaji, Pratapgad Fort has an enigmatic presence in the landscape here, a site of many important events.

Those looking to enjoy some of the high elevations will love a trek to the summit of Wilson Point, famous for its panoramic views of the valley below. The Needle Hole Point is another famous place to catch a glimpse of the scenic landscapes. Venna Lake is another centrepiece attraction at Mahabaleshwar while the hilltop Krishnabai Temple is famous for its architecture and Krishna statue.

More and more travellers are choosing a car rental over public transport. Rates are increasingly affordable and self drive gives total control over the pace of the journey. One can make impromptu stops and detours and there is complete privacy.

Finding a car rental in Mumbai is as simple as a few taps on an app. With platforms like Zoomcar, registered users can book a vehicle in a matter of minutes. One can choose from a wide range of cars – maybe a hatchback or sedan for the family getaway – or maybe a large SUV for the boisterous group road trip. 24/7 on-road support is one of the assurances that self drive rentals offer.

The hills are alive this monsoon. The best way to feel the cool winds and witness the mountain storms is to do it on one’s own terms – behind the wheel.

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Delayed Monsoon Spells Trouble for Farmers

The real challenge will be looking at the income security of small and marginal farmers in rain-fed areas

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Monsoon, Trouble, Farmers
The areas with irrigation such as Punjab and Haryana are not of concern. Pixabay

Southwest monsoon this year has become a thing of concern for policymakers as it has not just been delayed by a week, but it is also likely to be sluggish and erratic, which may spell trouble for the farm sector.

Paddy, the primary crop of the kharif season, is likely to be hit as June as well as July are expected to be rain-deficit. The output of pulses such as arhar (pigeon pea), soybean and coarse cereals is also likely to be affected.

As droughts occurred in patches across the country, there won’t be a disastrous impact on the overall food-grain production but it may have beating on small and marginal farmers by way of breaching their income security.

“The areas with irrigation such as Punjab and Haryana are not of concern. The real challenge will be looking at the income security of small and marginal farmers in rain-fed areas,” said T. Nandkumar, former Union Agriculture Secretary.

Monsoon, Trouble, Farmers
Southwest monsoon this year has become a thing of concern for policymakers. Pixabay

A senior official at the Agriculture Ministry said that it was in constant touch with the states to apprise the Centre of the developing situation.

“We have asked them to be prepared with precautionary and remedial measures in case there is deficit rainfall,” said the official, requesting anonymity.

However, there was no clarity if the state governments have ensured optimum seed reserves if first sowing attempt goes waste due to erratic rainfall.

The Food Ministry has started procuring over 50,000 tonnes of onion to deal with shortage if output goes down, indicating the government is not optimistic about good rainfall this year.

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Farmers have been advised by private weather forecaster Skymet to postpone sowing by almost a week of the conventional dates as it said there are less chances of rains if the onset of the monsoon is delayed.

If there is a long gap between two rain spells, there is high probability of newly planted seeds getting killed.

Skymet has predicted “below average” monsoon — 93 per cent of LPA — this year with indications of higher risk in the eastern parts and major portion of Central India being rain deficient.

The average, or normal, rainfall in the country is defined between 96 and 104 per cent of a 50-year average for the entire four-month monsoon season, or Long Period Average (LPA), which is 887 mm.

Monsoon, Trouble, Farmers
Paddy, the primary crop of the kharif season, is likely to be hit as June as well as July are expected to be rain-deficit. Pixabay

Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted “near normal” monsoon — 95 per cent of the LPA — with evenly distributed rainfall.

It, however, said there is 51 per cent chance that the monsoon would be normal or above while there is 49 per cent probability that it remains below normal.

The Agriculture Ministry official said the rainfall this time is expected to be “erratic” and “sluggish” citing recent developments related to the monsoon.

The second half of the rainy season would see better rainfall as August and September are expected to see normal rains. However, the entire season is expected to end on a deficit note.

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The rainfall in June will be 77 per cent (164 mm) of the LPA while it will be 91 per cent (289 mm) in July, 102 per cent (261 mm) in August and 99 per cent (173 mm) in September, as per Skymet.

Skymet has said that paddy production is expected to reduce to 97.78 million tonnes this kharif season compared to 101.96 million tonnes in the previous season.

It also said there is 40 per cent possibility of about 66 per cent districts in the country being deficient or largely deficient if the monsoon is “below normal”.

Nandkumar expects about 100 districts, including those in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, Telangana, Bihar and Jharkhand, to be rain deficient. (IANS)