With a country this size, deciding on when to go to India is important. India’s weather is extremely varied across the different states, so you must take this into account when thinking about the best time to visit.
Festivals also play a big part in deciding when to travel to India, with multiple religious festivals celebrated at different times of the year, across the country.
Read below for our guide on the best times to visit India and its main attractions.
The most influential feature of the Subcontinent’s climate is the wet season, or monsoon. This breaks on the Keralan coast at the end of May, and works its way northeast across the country over the following month and a half. During the monsoon, regular and prolonged downpours are interspersed with bursts of hot sunshine, and the pervasive humidity can be intense.
At the height of the monsoon – especially in the jungle regions of the northwest and the low-lying delta lands of Bengal – flooding can severely disrupt communications, causing widespread destruction. In the Himalayan foothills, landslides are common, and entire valley systems can be cut off for weeks.
The best time to visit most of India is during the cool, dry season, between November and March. Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are ideal at this time of year, and temperatures in Goa and central India remain comfortable.
However, from March onwards, the Himalayas grow more accessible for hikers. The trekking season reaches its peak in August and September while the rest of the Subcontinent is being soaked by the rains.
By September, the monsoon has largely receded from the north, but it takes another couple of months before the clouds disappear altogether from the far south. The east coast of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and the south of Kerala, get a second drenching between October and December, when the “northwest” or “retreating” monsoon sweeps in from the Bay of Bengal. By December, however, most of the Subcontinent enjoys clear skies and relatively cool temperatures.
The best months to visit India would be either November or February. These months are in the shoulder season between peak tourist months of December and January, but before the monsoons begin across the country.
Mid-winter sees the most marked contrasts between the climates of north and south India. While Delhi, for example, may be ravaged by chill winds blowing off the snowfields of the Himalayas, the Tamil plains and coastal Kerala, more than 1000km south, still stew under fierce post-monsoon sunshine.
The months of November, December and January are peak tourist season for the beach towns of Goa. At this time the coastal areas are blessed with dry weather and balmy temperatures post monsoon. This is also the season when most of Goa’s famous club nights and parties take place.
Over Christmas and New Year, Goa is overwhelmed by domestic tourists as well as international visitors. If you plan to travel here in December and January, we recommend booking your transport and accommodation well in advance.
As spring gathers pace, the centre of the Subcontinent starts to heat up again, and by late March thermometers nudge 33°C across most of the Gangetic Plains and Deccan plateau.
Holi, the festival of colours, takes place in March. If you’re lucky enough to be in India during Holi festival in March, you will experience an amazing atmosphere of fun, celebration and bright colours.
March is also considered the best time of year to visit the wildlife parks of central India, such as Ranthambore and Kanha.
Temperatures in the northern parts of the country, reach soaring heights of 36°C to 40°C, particularly in Delhi
Temperatures peak in May and early June, when anyone who can retreats to the hill stations. Above the baking Subcontinental land mass, hot air builds up and sucks in humidity from the southwest, causing the onset of the monsoon in late June, and bringing relief to millions of overheated Indians.
Summer marks the start of the monsoon season for most parts of the country. Heavy rainfall will soak most of the country during the summer months, making it humid and difficult to get around, particularly in rural areas.
Most domestic and international tourists escape to the Indian countryside and visit the hill stations, in Leh and Ladakh. If you do visit India during the monsoon season, you should pack pack waterproof clothing and sturdy shoes.
Avoid the coastal areas of the country during the summer months, as conditions are poor and most of the Goan beach resorts close down. Instead, head inland to the countryside of Tamil Nadu and Goa and visit some of India’s hill stations.
In the north of India, July and August are great months to visit the hill stations of Ladakh. Rajasthan also manages to escape the humidity and rainfall of the monsoon, more than other areas. Prices also drop outside of the peak tourist season, so this is a good time to grab a bargain.
The autumn months are relatively comfortable for those visiting India. Once the rains have died down, visitors start returning to India’s main attractions.
October and November are suitable times to visit Delhi and the Golden Triangle, as there are more bearable temperatures, similar to in February and March.
However, during October and November, you may encounter a lot more tourists at the popular sites and landmarks. Crowds can become a nuisance for places like the Red Fort or the Taj Mahal. Both domestic and international tourists visit the capital at this time.
September and October are good months to visit Kerala, as it has a more comfortable climate, with less humidity, a cool wind and breeze.
Diwali, one of India’s biggest festivals, takes place at this time of year. The festival of lights, usually begins in October or at the beginning of November.
Delhi is hugely overpopulated and suffers from terrible air pollution. The city experiences both weather extremes, from icy winds to sweltering heat waves. With that in mind, the best time to visit Delhi is some time between November to March.