The Best Time to Go to India

Taj Mahal at sunset
The Taj Mahal in Agra

India by seasons

India has four seasons: summer, monsoon, post-monsoon and winter. Don’t forget though, that India is huge; it’s 12 times the size of the UK, with a considerable range of topography. This brings a huge variation in climate which, when coupled with the wide variety of colourful festivals means there’s no one specific ideal time to visit.

To help you decide when’s best for you, we’ve split the year into the four seasons:

Tiger in Ranthambore National Park, India
Summer

April – June

Also known as the pre-monsoon season, summer is a hot time of year to visit, with average temperatures between 32 and 40°C, although they can sometimes surpass 45°C. In the Himalayas, temperatures are more bearable, and the weather more spring-like. The humidity and chance of rain increases as the monsoon approaches, with infrequent thunderstorms. Mumbai and Goa are nice at this time; go before the rains arrive in June.

Go for:

Wildlife watching: the high temperatures and lack of water draw India’s tigers, rhinos and elephants out from the forests and to the water sources of its central national parks, making this the ideal time for a safari.

Hemis: in June or July, celebrate the birthday of the founder of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism at this festival, where monks play trumpets, drums and cymbals and dress up in elaborate outfits. 

Man rowing on the Ganges River, Varanasi, India
Monsoon

July – September

The monsoon brings humid weather and rainfall, which starts in early June and moves slowly across the country, finishing in the far north in October. The downpours provoke celebrations, as the rains are much-needed after the summer heat, and higher water levels make now a good time to cruise the Ganges in Varanasi. Rajasthan is a good choice for September, as the rains should have departed for the Himalayas.

Go for:

Dussehra: for 10 days in September or October, India celebrates the death of the demon king Ravana by burning his effigy and flocking to colourful markets across the country.

Eid-Ul-Fitr: join India’s Muslim communities for this celebration of the end of Ramadan. Held around July, it involves prayers, gift giving and eating, as well as some spectacularly decorated mosques.

Woman walks past the Taj Mahal, India
Post-monsoon

October – November

Also known as autumn, post-monsoon season is a lovely time to travel. The skies are clear and bright, especially in the north. This means it’s peak travel season, with visitors flocking to Rajasthan’s temples, Goa’s beaches, and Mumbai’s shopping centres, with plenty of festivals to get involved in as well. The sunny days are ideal for a relaxing cruise on Kerala’s backwaters too.

Go for:

Diwali: Otherwise known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is celebrated with lights and lanterns decorating the houses and impressive fireworks displays taking place all over the country.

Pushkar Camel Fair: In November, the Rajasthani town of Pushkar holds its annual camel fair, featuring events such as the longest moustache competition, and drawing 200,000 people and 50,000 camels to the region.

Holi festival, India
Winter

December – March

Winter is the coldest time to visit India, although if you visit the south, you wouldn’t know it. In the Himalayan foothills, temperatures can drop well below freezing but the skies remain clear and blue, giving excellent mountain views – look out for Everest! Away from the mountains the mercury hovers around 25°C, so it’s a lovely time to laze on the beaches, visit the cities and tour the temples of Rajasthan.

Go for:

Holi: one of India’s most famous festivals, Holi involves locals painting themselves in vivid colours and throwing coloured paints and powders at each other to signify the triumph of good over evil.

Pongal: In mid-January, head for Tamil Nadu where locals enjoy a four day harvest festival and decorate their houses with Kolam designs made of rice, coloured powder and flower petals.

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A starry view of the Amber Fort in Jaipur
A starry view of the Amber Fort in Jaipur via @helenturl #expertfinds #amberfort #jaipur
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