WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO TRAVEL?
CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN INDIA
The weather in India varies dramatically. While the southern tip of the India is being lashed by tropical monsoon rain, the north will be blanketed in thick snow. Therefore, the best time to travel to India depends greatly on the destinations to be visited and the climate experienced there.
Based on temperature and rainfall, the Indian Meteorological Service has classified the country into an incredible seven different climatic regions. These are the Himalayas, Assam and West Bengal, the Indo-Gangetic Plain/North Indian Plain (a huge section of north-central India), the Western Ghats and coast, the Deccan Plateau (south-central India), and the Eastern Ghats and coast. In general, the north of India is cooler, the center is hot and dry, and the south has a tropical climate.
Indian weather itself is divided into three distinct seasons -- winter, summer, and the monsoon.
Generally, the best time to visit India is during the winter, when the weather in most places is relatively cool and pleasant.
Summer ( March to May )
India starts heating up from around February, first in the northern plains and then the rest of the country. By April, many places are experience daily temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit). It stays cooler in the southern parts of the country, with temperatures reaching around 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), although it’s a lot more humid.
In late May, signs of the approaching monsoon start appearing. Humidity levels build, and there are thunderstorms and dust storms.
The most tiring thing about summer in India is that the heat is so relentless. Day after day the weather doesn’t change -- it’s always extremely hot, sunny, and dry.
Monsoon (June to October)
India actually has two monsoons –- the southwest monsoon and the northeast monsoon. The southwest monsoon, which is the main monsoon, comes in from the sea and starts making its way up India’s west coast in early June. By mid July, most of the country is covered in rain. This gradually starts clearing from most places in northwest India by October.
The northeast monsoon affects India’s east coast during November and December. It’s a short but intense monsoon. The states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala receive most of their rainfall from the northeast monsoon, while the rest of the country receives most of its rainfall from the southwest monsoon.
The monsoon doesn’t appear all at once. Its onset is characterized by intermittent thunderstorms and rain over a number of days, eventually culminating in a huge and lengthy downpour. India during the monsoon doesn't receive rain all the time, although it usually rains for a heavy period everyday, followed by pleasant sunshine. The rain brings some respite from the searing heat. Conditions become very humid and muddy though, while still remaining quite hot.
The monsoon, while welcomed by farmers, can be an extremely challenging time in India. It produces widespread destruction and flooding. Frustratingly, the rain also appears out of nowhere. It can be a beautiful clear day one minute, and the next it’s pouring.
Winter (November to February)
The disappearance of the monsoon marks the start of clear sunny skies, as well as the start of the tourist season, for most of India. Daytime winter temperatures are comfortable, although often quite chilly at night.
In the south, it never gets cold. This is in complete contrast to the freezing temperatures experienced in India’s far north, around the Himalaya region.
India being a very large country with several different climates, Plan your India trip, keeping the different India climate conditions in consideration.
Listed below are some regions to give you an idea of when to travel to India and where:
North India (Rajasthan, Agra, Delhi, Varanasi, Ranthambore National Park):
In Rajasthan, Agra and or Varanasi, the best time to travel is between October and the end of April. Temperatures in Delhi often reach 40ºC in May and June, and even soar as high as 45ºC the Thar desert of Rajasthan, so you may find the heat uncomfortable over this period. During July and August there are regular showers, clearing the air. In September, the weather is even better as the rain clears and the temperatures drop a little.
North East (Darjeeling, Sikkim) and North West India (Dharamsala, Manali, Ladakh):
Both North East and North West India, get extremely cold in the winter, due to their high altitudes. This makes it important to plan your dates carefully if you are planning when to travel to India, specifically if you're interested in doing a trek in the Himalayan foothills. In the north west foothills, the rainy season runs from the beginning of July until the end of August, while in the north east, the rains begin in June and end in October.
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Bombay and Goa:
This central/south west area of India is best visited between November and late May. It never becomes unbearably hot, but in June, July and August there are frequent heavy shower that can last for several hours at a time. However, between the downpours there will be dazzling sunshine.
South India (Kerala and Tamil Nadu):
The climate in South India is tropical. In Kerala, temperatures remain at about 30ºC all year round. The monsoon hits Kerala in June and lasts until September, and the area is best visited between November and May. Tamil Nadu, in the South East, is the hottest area of the country (and the curries are hottest here too). Temperatures here hover at around 35ºC, increasing even further in May and June. The short but aggressive rainy season in Tamil Nadu runs from early October until early December.