The honeymoon, at first, was magical. Akash and Parvani Kapadi drove up pine-covered forests to a hill town in northern India with a view of the snow-capped Himalayas. In their hotel room, the gentle pitter-patter of monsoon rains on the roof set the stage for a week of romance — away from the heat and grime of the city.
But the drizzle turned into a downpour and did not let up for days. It brought landslides that severed connections to the outside world. Mobile phones were useless. Food and drinking water were soon scarce.
“We were fearful that the honeymoon may result in a tragedy,” Mr. Kapadi said. “We started panicking.”
As in recent years, this monsoon season — which typically starts in June and goes through September — has wreaked havoc in all four corners of India, killing dozens, destroying millions of dollars of crops and infrastructure, and upending millions of lives. Because of climate change, the wet season is forecast to get even more violent and erratic.
The Kapadis were stuck in Manali, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, for six days. They were able to head back to Mumbai only after Mr. Kapadi paid local residents to help clear a road and Mrs. Kapadi found a taxi at twice the going rate.
The devastation in Himachal Pradesh this season has been acute. The state has already received 1,200 percent more than its annual rainfall, according to data from the India Meteorological Department. Landslides and floods have claimed nearly 100 lives.
For centuries, the monsoon, which can transform arid landscapes into lush green ones in days, ushered in a particular joie de vivre in India. It brought a lifeline for farmers and respite from the summer heat for millions more. It inspired myths, classical music and Bollywood tunes.
More recently, the majesty of the monsoon has inspired its own tourism season, with travel companies pitching weekend getaways, road trips and bicycle tours in the wet season. One company has dubbed it “the smart season to travel.” Demand this year has surged as much as 20 percent from last year, according to travel industry estimates.
But climate change is forcing a reckoning.
Nupur Sharma opened a resort with seven cottages in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in 2021, hoping to attract adventure-minded travelers. She had not bargained for extreme rains to lash her property every year. She has already spent two million rupees, roughly $25,000, to try to waterproof her buildings.
“There is a fear,” Ms. Sharma said. “A very real fear. Every year the intensity of the monsoons increases. You can never be prepared enough. Because nature takes its own root and form.”
Furious rains have also played spoilsport to many Hindu pilgrims, who typically start setting out in May to religious sites in the mountains of the north.
One popular destination is the Amarnath cave in Kashmir, a shrine to the god Shiva. For years, visitors were allowed in for only a few days because of the security situation in Kashmir. This year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government promised to expand the visiting season to two months, contending that it has turned things around in the restive region. But heavy and unpredictable rainfall has forced a suspension of those plans.
In Rishikesh, a sacred town on the banks of the Ganges in Uttarakhand, Ramesh Kothiyal, a tour operator, has fielded dozens of cancellation requests.
“I am going to send a proposal to Mr. Modi’s government to ban all religious tours from July 1 to Aug. 15,” Mr. Kothiyal said. “We cannot risk the lives of travelers and also those who rescue them.”
Mr. Kothiyal said he had never seen the Song river, which ends up in the Ganges, as swollen as it was this year, particularly at the beginning of the monsoon season in June.
Vidhi Gandhi Lodha and her husband, Himanshu, had planned a trip to India’s northernmost area, the Ladakh region. Nestled in the Himalayas, it is widely considered one of India’s most charming spots. Every year thousands of domestic and foreign tourists flock to Ladakh and its main town, Leh, to stroll around historic Buddhist monasteries, take pictures of the saffron-robed monks and eat yak-cheese pizza.
The Lodhas had booked much of their trip in advance — flights, hotels and daily itineraries — researching and picking spots that do not typically get much rainfall. But even before they left their home inJaipur, in the state of Rajasthan, a cloudburst in Ladakh caused flooding and landslides, and blocked roads. The couple had to postpone their travel plans, originally set for the end of July, and with no respite from the rains, the trip remains up in the air.
“It was supposed to be an adventurous trip but in the face of the natural calamity it turned into the most unpleasant experience related to travel,” Ms. Lodha said.