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Monsoon medicine

Bathed in forest light and life-giving rain, bone-weary Alex Fisher finds physical renewal and peace of mind

Rain. It drips from every leaf, pours down every wall, rattles on the rooftops. Rivulets weave through the forest floor, gaining momentum as they descend from the mountain plateau and combine to form seasonal rivers that tumble over rocks, becoming the myriad of thundering waterfalls that attract thousands of Indian tourists to the Western Ghats every year. In the UK, we love to complain about the rain, but in India the arrival of the monsoon is celebrated. ‘This is my favourite kind of weather,’ a grinning member of the retreat team says, as he invites me beneath his huge umbrella and shows me to my villa.

“A project to restore the balance of nature became about restoring the balance in people’s bodies and lives too”

The rain is loved here not only because it transforms summer’s scorched brown grass to an iridescent green and sustains the surrounding forests, rice fields and bamboo plantations, but also because the temporary waterfalls replenish Lake Pawna. This 58 kilometre-long artificial lake, which we took nearly an hour to drive past on the way here from Mumbai, supplies tens of millions of people with water for the entire year. Without rain, there is no life.

When we landed in hectic Mumbai just four hours earlier, the monsoon rains had just begun. They had been expected a week earlier. The locals say that each year the rains start a little later and the water reserves drop a little lower. One day, they fear, the reserve will run out before the rains come.

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