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Day 200: very wet in UK but it seems a dry Indian monsoon for the team on location...

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Stephen Marsh Stephen Marsh | 17:00 UK time, Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Distance travelled ~ 513'809'600 km

Today the 23 Degrees team are in India to explore the greatest weather event on Earth - the Monsoon.

They start their journey in Udaipur in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. Sometimes known as the desert state it has been baking in the Sun for months and so the rains should come as a blessed salvation from the heat and dust of summer - although there has been no reports of rain today from the team out on location.

Rajasthan is an agrarian state where over two thirds of the population are reliant on agriculture. But Rajasthan only shares around 1% of the surface water in India so it is very dependent on the annual rains.

In Udaipur Kate Humble is visiting a stunning cliff top palace called the Sajjan Garh. Built at the end of the 19th century by the 72nd Maharana of Udaipur the palace was built not to view the city below but the arrival of the monsoon rains. Sajjan Garh, which means Monsoon Palace, gave the rulers of Udaipur a grandstand view of the most dramatic and most important weather event on the planet.

We in the UK often take rain for granted, and frankly moan about it, particularly with this wet July, but for the people of Rajasthan the rains are quite literally a matter of life and death. I know that's an overused term but the Indian monsoon brings water to nearly 2 billion people, and is critical for the farmers like the maize growers of Rajasthan. Should the rains not arrive their crops will fail and they will face seriously desperate times.

Kate is also visiting the famous Lake Pichola. For those who remember the James Bond film Octopussy many scenes were shot there and in the beautiful Lake Palace in the centre of the lake. It's actually a man-made reservoir, created over 600 years ago to store the monsoon rain so the local community have access to water long after the rains have gone.

While Kate Humble stays up north in Rajasthan, Helen Czerski is thousands of kilometres south on a beach in Kerala. It's no holiday; she's there to discover how the different responses of land and water to solar energy power the monsoon, generating incredibly intense rainfall. I suspect she's in for at least one soaking from the rain.

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