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The best time to visit India

Seasons

Generally speaking, the weather in India can be divided into three seasons – summer, winter and monsoon. The coolest and driest time of the year to visit is between October and February, which is regarded as the winter season and seen by many as the best time to visit India. During this time temperatures are cool and dry, making the ideal conditions to take in the highlights and hidden gems of India. Temperatures will always be warmer in the south, with comfortable coastal beach weather.

Following winter is the summer season which is hot and dry, lasting from March through to May, when temperatures reach their peak. During this time the thermometer can be intensely warm in the central and southern reaches of the country, making it an excellent time to head to the north and higher altitudes of the Himalayas, and the lofty hill stations of Shimla and Darjeeling.

May signals the start of the monsoon season, which begins in Kerala on the south-western coast, bringing with it regular downpours interspersed with sunny hot intervals that gradually work their way up the country. It is very humid during this time of year and the days are punctuated by intermittent rainfall. At the height of monsoon season there can be flooding in some lowland regions and most national parks close during this time (excluding Periyar, which remains open). Come November and December another monsoon hits southern India, sweeping in from the Bay of Bengal. The states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka receive most of their rainfall during this time.

Climate | Delhi


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C791420262827262418118
Temp Max °C212431364139363434342923
Rainfall (mm)2318138137418017311710310

Climate | Darjeeling


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C-17-15-10-5-13542-5-12-16
Temp Max °C11471012121311853
Rainfall (mm)488160218242409751723441483914

Climate | Mumbai


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C191922242726242424242321
Temp Max °C282830323332292929323231
Rainfall (mm)33301848561734026464133

Climate | Kolkata


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C131521242526262624241813
Temp Max °C272934363633323232322926
Rainfall (mm)10313643140297325252114114205

Climate | Kochi


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C232426262624242424242423
Temp Max °C323233333230292930313132
Rainfall (mm)1718197218448435227419028210529
Camel Festival India

Festivals

Unsurprising for a country with such religious, cultural and natural diversity, India is host to a variety of colourful festivals throughout the year whether it's in the scorching deserts of Rajasthan or the streets of Goa. Here's our guide to some of the best of these festivals.

Bikaner Camel Festival

This annual event includes a range of colourful camel performances from races to dance displays, all designed to pay homage to the 'ships of the desert'. As well as this visitors can expect to see swirling human dancers, fire performers and a dazzling fireworks display. In 2016 the event will be held in Bikaner from January 22nd to the 24th.

Jaisalmer Desert Festival

The beautiful fort city of Jaisalmer hosts a desert festival with events including camel racing, turban tying, and the longest mustache competition. Held between the 30th January and 3rd February in 2016, the quirky festival is a great option for first-time visitors to Rajasthan with its emphasis on local culture and heritage.

Holi Festival of Colour

Celebrating the arrival of spring and new beginnings, India's Holi festival is its most colourful festival and its most popular with visitors. In fact, a number of countries across the world now hold their own Holi celebrations with coloured water and powder thrown at others dressed in white and bonfires lit the night before. In 2016 Holi falls on the 23rd March.

Hola Mohalla

Taking place a day after the Hindu festival of Holi, this three-day Sikh festival is an occasion for Sikhs to demonstrate their martial skills in simulated battles with dramatic mock martial arts battles (or Gatka as they are more commonly known), daring displays of weaponry, archery and wrestling. The Hola Mohalla festival is held in the town of Anandpur Sahib on the 24th March 2016.

Hemis Festival

The annual Hemis Festival is held in the Buddhist monastery of Hemis in the state of Ladakh to honour the 8th-century Indian Buddhist master, Padmasambhava. During the festival ceremonial items are placed around the monastery, the courtyard fills with pilgrims and traditional music and dance performances are held. The festival highlight is the gathering of the lamas around the central flagpole performing the mystic mask dances (Chams) and sacred plays. In 2016 this festival falls on the 14th July.

Ganesh Chaturthi

Running for 11 days from the 5th September 2016, the Ganesh Chaturthi Hindu festival honours the elephant-headed god Ganesh with numerous images of Ganesh made and paraded through the streets and installed in temporary shrines. At the end of the festival, the clay idols are immersed and dissolved in a nearby lakes and ponds.

Durga Puja

Celebrating the Mother Goddess and warrior Goddess Durga's victory over an evil demon, Durga Puja honours the divine feminine energy with great pandals — decorated stages that exhibit statues of the goddess Durga. Live music accompanies the colourful art works and at the end of the festival the statues are paraded through the streets to be immersed in local rivers. Durga Puja is celebrated in West Bengal, particularly in the city of Kolkata on the 7th October for four days.

Diwali Festival of Light

Families come together all across India to celebrate Diwali Festival of Light and the triumph of light over dark, good over evil. Small diyas (lamps) are lit and placed outside homes with firework displays at night. Over the course of five days various prayers and rituals are performed and it's a wonderful time to check into a guesthouse to share the festivities with local Indian families. In 2016 Diwali starts on the 30th October.

Pushkar Camel Fair

Held each November the Pushkar Camel Fair is a unique spectacle with thousands of camels bought and sold, alongside horses and cattle. As part of the fair camel races are held along with longest moustache competitions, bridal competitions and various dance performances. In recent years a cricket game between a local team and random foreign visitors has also featured. In 2016 the fair kicks off on the 10th November for a week period.

Events

Indians do love their cricket and from the 8th March to the 3rd April the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 cricket tournament is due to be held in India with matches held in Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai, Dharamshala, Delhi, Mohali and Nagpur. In total 16 teams will be competing including South Africa, Australia, England and New Zealand.

2016 Calendar

To help plan your 2016 visit to India here's an overview of festivals and events.

January 22nd-24th - Bikaner Camel Festival (Bikaner)
January 30th - February 3rd - Jaisalmer Desert Festival (Jaisalmer)
March 8th - April 3rd - ICC World Twenty20 Cricket Tournament (designated cities)
March 23rd - Holi Festival of Colour (countrywide)
March 24th - Hola Mohalla (Anandpur Sahib)
July 14th - Hemis Festival (Leh)
September 5th - Ganesh Chaturthi (countrywide)
October 7th-11th - Durga Puja (Kolkata)
October 30th - November 3rd - Diwali Festival of Light (countrywide)
November 11th-17th - Pushkar Camel Fair (Pushkar)

See Also

For more handy information on India to assist with your holiday planning, check out the following:

Best Places to Visit - see our recommended top spots in India
Tourist Visas - the lowdown on visa regulations for India
Top Travel Tips - information on money, health and food in India plus more
Traveller Reviews - see what our passengers say about our India tours
Travel Operators for Tigers - learn more about the work we do for tigers in India
The Golden Triangle - all you need to know about planning a trip to India's most popular destinations - Delhi, Agra and Jaipur

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