Scores of vacationers flock to India during the winter season which locals accurately dub the “tourist season”. Easily the best time to visit India, the excessive summer heat begins to ease into cooler temps. At the same time, usually wet areas of Northeast India dry out allowing uncomplicated travel once again. Meanwhile the South experiences it’s own cooling weather patterns and rain on the beaches.
Winter occurs from Mid-October through February. As early as late October, US, Canadian and South American tourists begin criss-crossing the Asian Sub-Continent. By December and early January, these tourists are packing up making room for Australian, English and other European visitors. Finally by late February, early March, the French invade for one last gasp as temps creep back near triple digits.
A celebratory mood coincides with the appealing weather during the winter season. October & November see the holidays of Dussehra, Durga Puja and Diwali. The well known Pushkar Fair of Rajasthan also occurs in November. It holds claim as being the largest camel fair in India. January celebrations include Republic Day of India and Lohri, the festival of Punjabis. Holi, the fesitval of color, falls in March followed by Eid, Easter & Christmas. Smaller regional festivals are celebrated throughout this time.
Are these cooler temps the best time to visit India? Brace yourself, it’s still warm. Southern highs extend to 90º on a hot day even in December/January but average near low 80′s. By late February and early March, you’ll want to think about moving to the North as temps flirt with 100º, sitting in the low to mid 90′s most days. The humidity in the coastal cities is enough to drive any tourist inland. Muggy, sweaty and just downright hard to stay dry conditions, cause even the locals to vent in frustration.
Northern temps in Rajasthan can still break the 100º barrier well into October and early November. Many tourists locate themselves in Punjab and the cool, crisp mountain terrain of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu/Kashmir. With nighttime temps dropping into the 40′s requiring sweatshirts, blankets and shawls, tourists are treated to relaxing daytime temps of 60º-70º. For those tourists seeking even more chills, head to the Kunzum Pass of the Himalayas in Northern Himachal Pradesh. Here temps are well below freezing with views that take the breath away from any traveler, novice to seasoned. Be alert to road blockages due to snow fall moving into early November for the most extreme mountain routes.
Spring months of March through May turn hot and humid. Bargain rates can be found for South Indian destinations while road conditions in the North, particularly mountain peaks and hill stations, begin clearing from snow. This marks a great opportunity to visualize the most pristine parts of India during their very short growing season. Few tourists, locals included, are fortunate to play witness as travel warnings or closures are spotty and typically last minute.
To escape the climbing temps of the plains, head to the nearest hill station. The British made these destinations their summer residences. But now most lie as quirky tourist meccas chock full of western influenced restaurants offering WiFi and espresso, loads of shopping and spas for those looking to lose a few pounds or gain “enlightenment”. You’re more likely to leave with a heavy tab and less cash.
June, July, and August bring more hot & humid weather but also the monsoons. Desperately needed rain is depended on during these months. Lakes have dried up while river beds are all but rock gardens. Farmers begin watching the sky for some sort of sign that their crops will be spared from the searing heat. Tourists traveling through the country during this time should be alert to flash flood conditions. Ensure your exit strategies as well as being cautious around swollen lakes and rivers. As the monsoon leaves the country dripping, the locals come out in force to mark the beginning of festival season. New Years for several calendars are celebrated as well as occasions giving thanks to multiple gods throughout the country. This is a great time for domestic tourism yet still not the best time to visit India for foreigners.
So when is the peak time to visit India?
Pack your bags and find yourself in the North as November turns the corner. Cooler temps in the plains and cities are manageable. Hill station retreats are best this time of year offering cool evenings with bright, sunny warm days without the humidity. As November runs into December, South India is calling. Hill stations are numerous for relief should the temperatures be unseasonably high yet, the coastal areas of Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu offer beaches that beg to be visited during this time.
No matter the weather, there are shops available to purchase items for any condition should your trip mistakenly mark a freak hot or cold spell. Just get here
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