When to Visit Northern India
Northern India & the Golden Triangle by Season
With mountains, deserts, highlands and lowlands all features of northern India’s geography, its climate is understandably diverse. While snow falls each year in the Himalayan foothills, temperatures can approach a sweltering 60°C in the Thar Desert. In general, winters are cool and summers are hot, with most rainfall occurring during the monsoon season. The year is divided into three seasons – which one you pick depends on your interests.
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October to March
Winter’s dry days and mild temperatures make it the perfect time to explore Rajasthan and the Golden Triangle. Temperatures hover around 13°C in Delhi, although they can be in the mid-twenties in Agra. In the Himalayan foothills, temperatures drop below freezing, with snow, ice and frost across the region. Although winter travel can be more challenging, visit Shimla for skiing and ice-skating.
A white Christmas: head for the Himalayas, particularly Shimla, for guaranteed snow and festive fun. Be warned though, the glittering snow scenes make this a very popular time to travel.
Holi: India’s most famous festival, Holi’s celebrations involve throwing colourful paints and powders at each other to celebrate the victory of good over evil. See it all over the country.
April to July
Don’t forget your sunglasses, because northern India’s summers are hot hot hot! Temperatures rise slowly from March, reaching well into the 40’s. To avoid the heat, head for the hill stations such as Darjeeling and Gangtok, or try your luck in Rathambore National Park, where the thirsty tigers will be out in search of water, giving you a greater chance of spotting one.
International Mango Festival: held in Delhi in July, this quirky festival celebrates India’s favourite fruit with mango tastings, recipes and various mango-related competitions.
Baisakhi: in mid-April, Punjabi New Year is celebrated with singing and dancing across Punjab state, while locals visit the Gurdwaras and dance the famous Bhangra while wearing elaborate costumes.
August to September
The monsoon season brings rain to much of northern India, shutting down many transport routes. That said, the landscape turns a lush green, with gushing waterfalls and atmospheric mountain mists adding to the photogenicity of it all. A good place to witness this is in Chandigarh, where the abundant gardens and lakes bloom vividly and the temperatures and humidity remain manageable.
Teej: this festival, dedicated to the Goddess Pavarti, is celebrated across Rajasthan, but the best place to see it is in Jaipur in July or August. Look out for colourful costumes and decorated swings.
Marwar: in September or October, Jodhpur puts on the two-day Marwar Festival, which celebrates Rajasthan’s folk heroes with music and dance performances. Other attractions include the unusual sight of camel polo.