The best time to visit India

Updated: 20th February 2017

Taj Mahal in Agra - India best time to visit - On The Go Tours
Visit the Taj Mahal during the cooler winter months for clearer skies

Seasons and Weather

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.

Best Places to Visit in India by Month

Know when you're travelling to India but not sure where best to go? Check out our guide on where to go when in India to help plan that perfect holiday whatever month you're visiting.

Climate | Delhi

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

Climate | Darjeeling

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

Climate | Mumbai

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

Climate | Kolkata

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

Climate | Kochi

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


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. The festival is held in Bikaner in late January each year.

Sankranti Kite Festival

A Hindu festival celebrated across India, Makar Sankranti as it is officially known is one of the country's most popular events. Around the 14th January each year, people everywhere mark the transition of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricorn) with a focus on kite flying. The skies are filled with kites known as patangs with entertaining kite fights - the aim of the game is to chop down other kites and be the last one flying. To the delight of children in the crowds, those kites unlucky enough to be hit are then their's for the taking. The city of Ahmedabad marks the festival with particular aplomb in the form of the International Kite Festival when a dazzling flock of kites are flown in the air from dawn to dusk.

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 towards the end of January or in the first few weeks of February, 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 2017 Holi falls on the 13th March.

Hola Mohalla

Usually 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 13th March 2017.

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 2017 this festival falls on the 3rd July.

Ganesh Chaturthi

Running for 11 days from the 25th August 2017, 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 26th September 2017 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 2017 Diwali starts on the 19th 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 2017 the fair kicks off on the 28th October for a week period.

2017 Calendar

To help plan your 2017 visit to India here's an overview of festivals and events.

January 7th-15th - International Kite Festival (Ahmedabad)
January 14th-15th - Bikaner Camel Festival (Bikaner)
February 8th-10th - Jaisalmer Desert Festival (Jaisalmer)
March 13th - Holi Festival of Colour (countrywide)
March 13th - Hola Mohalla (Anandpur Sahib)
July 3rd-4th - Hemis Festival (Leh)
August 25th - Ganesh Chaturthi (countrywide)
September 26th-30th - Durga Puja (Kolkata)
October 19th-23rd - Diwali Festival of Light (countrywide)
October 28th - November 4th - Pushkar Camel Fair (Pushkar)

There's also a number of national holidays in India and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.

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

Top India Deals
A stunning shot of the Amber Fort in Jaipur Taj Traveller - 8 days Map
03 Mar 2018  2-for-1
Taj Traveller - 8 days
USD $793
was $1,585
Shimla | India Taj and Raj - 11 Days Map
07 Mar 2018  2-for-1
Taj and Raj - 11 Days
USD $748
was $1,495
Spot tiger in India on our India wildlife tours Shere Khan - 10 days Map
10 Mar 2018  2-for-1
Shere Khan - 10 days
USD $898
was $1,795
On the backwaters of Kerala in a traditional riceboat Captivating Kerala - 7 days Map
10 Mar 2018  2-for-1
Captivating Kerala - 7 days
USD $698
was $1,395
Visited on our India tours, the Taj Mahal in Agra is top of our must-see list Taj Express - 8 days Map
10 Mar 2018  2-for-1
Taj Express - 8 days
USD $793
was $1,585
Local family | India India For Teens - 8 days Map
24 Mar 2018  2-for-1
India For Teens - 8 days
USD $798
was $1,595
Walking up to Amber Fort in Jaipur - India Best Exotic Marigold Tour - 10 days Map
22 Sep 2018  2-for-1
Best Exotic Marigold Tour - 10 days
USD $1,033
was $2,065
Darjeeling tea plantations | India Delhi to Darjeeling - 15 Days Map
31 Mar 2018  10% off
Delhi to Darjeeling - 15 Days
USD $3,686
was $4,095
The Ganges | Varanasi | India Delhi Palaces Ganges - 12 days Map
17 Mar 2018  10% off
Delhi Palaces Ganges - 12 days
USD $2,606
was $2,895
Rice boat in Kerala | India Golden Triangle & Kerala - 14 days Map
03 Mar 2018  10% off
Golden Triangle & Kerala - 14 days
USD $2,696
was $2,995
Kathmandu Durbar Square | Nepal Highway to Himalayas - 16 Days Map
03 Mar 2018  10% off
Highway to Himalayas - 16 Days
USD $2,291
was $2,545
Lake Palace | Udaipur | India A Taj Showcase - 9 days Map
03 Mar 2018  10% off
A Taj Showcase - 9 days
USD $5,342
was $5,935
Victoria Memorial in Kolkata | India Delhi to Kolkata - 15 Days Map
03 Mar 2018  10% off
Delhi to Kolkata - 15 Days
USD $4,856
was $5,395
Amritsar's Golden Temple | India Amritsar & the Golden Triangle - 13 Days Map
05 Mar 2018  10% off
Amritsar & the Golden Triangle - 13 Days
USD $2,336
was $2,595
Lake Pichola and Udaipur Palace | India Passage to India - 14 days Map
10 Mar 2018  10% off
Passage to India - 14 days
USD $2,606
was $2,895
Polonnaruwa | Sri Lanka Delhi to Colombo - 15 days Map
10 Mar 2018  10% off
Delhi to Colombo - 15 days
USD $2,669
was $2,965
Beautiful beach | Goa | India Golden Triangle & Goa - 13 Days Map
10 Mar 2018  10% off
Golden Triangle & Goa - 13 Days
USD $3,146
was $3,495
Tiger's Nest Monastery | Bhutan Best of India & Bhutan - 14 Days Map
31 Mar 2018  10% off
Best of India & Bhutan - 14 Days
USD $5,216
was $5,795
Diwali Festival of Light | India Diwali, Festival of Lights - 8 days Map
03 Nov 2018  10% off
Diwali, Festival of Lights - 8 days
USD $1,436
was $1,595