When To Go...
Climate plays a key factor in deciding when to visit India. Keep in mind that
climatic conditions in the far north are distinctly different to those of the
Generally, India's climate is defined by three seasons - the
hot, the wet (monsoon) and the cool, each of which can vary in duration from
north to south. The most pleasant time to visit most places is during the
cooler period: November to around mid-February.
The heat starts to build up on India's northern plains from
around February, and by April or May it really hots up, peaking in June. In
central India temperatures of 45°C and above are commonplace. South India also
becomes uncomfortably hot during this time.
Late in May the first signs of the monsoon are visible in some
areas - high humidity, electrical storms, short rainstorms and dust storms that
turn day into night. The hot season is the time to abandon the plains and head
for the cooler hills, and this is when hill stations are at their best (and
When the monsoon finally arrives the rain comes in steadily,
generally starting around 1 June in the extreme south and sweeping north to
cover the whole country by early July. The main monsoon comes from the
southwest, but the southeast coast (and southern Kerala) is largely affected by
the short and surprisingly wet northeast monsoon, which brings rain from around
October to early December.
Things don't really cool down: at first hot, dry and dusty
weather is simply replaced by hot, humid and muddy conditions. It doesn't rain
all day, but it rains every day. Followed by the sun this creates a fatiguing
steam bath-like environment.
Around October the monsoon ends for most of the country. This
is when India sees most tourists - however, it's too late to visit Ladakh (May
to October is the optimum period). During October and November it's generally
not too hot and not too cool (October can still be humid in some regions). In
the thick of winter (around mid-December to mid-January), Delhi and other
northern cities can become astonishingly cold, especially at night - and it's
bone-chilling in the far north. In the far south the temperatures become
comfortably warm during this period.
It's worth checking the dates of particular festivals - you
may be attracted or repelled by the chaos (and jacked-up prices) that attend
them. There are virtually no festivals in May/June. The wedding season falls
between November and March, when you're likely to see at least one lively
procession through the streets.