best time to visit India

Updated: 04th June 2018

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 Time to Visit By Region

As such a vast country with an incredibly diverse landscape, it should not come as a surprise that the climate can differ too from region to region. As a general rule however, the climate in the north of India is cooler, central India is hot and dry, and the south is hot and humid. Read on for more information about the weather patterns across India.

Best time to visit Rajasthan & the Golden Triangle

The state of Rajasthan and the popular touring route of India's Golden Triangle experience a desert-like climate with dry, hot summers with very high temperatures. This means the cooler winter months of November to March are the ideal time to visit, though December and January can get particularly cold. Check out our guide on visiting Rajasthan for more detailed info.

Best time to visit Goa

Goa is India's most popular beach destination and travellers come here seeking sunshine, clear skies and warm temperatures. And if that's what you're after, the best time to visit Goa is mid-November to mid-February when the weather conditions are ideal for sun-lounging and swimming. It's also popular with visitors thanks to a number of colourful festivals and Christmas/New Year celebrations that take place during this period.

Best time to visit Kerala

The state of Kerala draws travellers looking to cruise the lush backwaters, go wildlife spotting in national parks and spend a few days relaxing on golden sands. In order to satisfy all this, visit during the cool, dry season between December and February. Check out our guide on visiting Kerala for more detailed info.

Best time to visit the Himalayas

The Himalayas incorporate a large area of northern India and climatic conditions vary with the altitude. In the scenic foothills where you'll find Darjeeling in the east and Shimla in the west, it's possible to travel year-round. However, once you reach over 1,500 metres in altitude it's best to avoid travel between December and February when temperatures plummet and roads are closed due to the snow. Generally speaking the best time to visit India's Himalayas are March to June and September to November.

Best time to visit South India

The weather in southern India is largely determined by monsoon patterns. It's a tropical region with temperatures that hover somewhere between moderate and high with humidity and incessant rain. To avoid the worst of it, visit between December and March when the weather is mostly pleasant.

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.

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 in March each year.

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.

Ganesh Chaturthi

Running for 11 days between August and September each year, 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 over the course of 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.

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. If you want to experience the Pushkar Camel Fair this year, check out our 10th November departure of our Passage to India group tour.

2018 Calendar

To help plan your 2018 visit to India here's an overview of festivals and events.

January 7th-15th - International Kite Festival (Ahmedabad)
January 13th-14th - Bikaner Camel Festival (Bikaner)
January 29th-31st - Jaisalmer Desert Festival (Jaisalmer)
March 1st-2nd - Holi Festival of Colour (countrywide)
March 3rd-5th - Hola Mohalla (Anandpur Sahib)
June 23rd-24th - Hemis Festival (Leh)
September 12th-23rd - Ganesh Chaturthi (countrywide)
October 15th-19th - Durga Puja (Kolkata)
November 7th - Diwali Festival of Light (countrywide)
November 15th-23rd - 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
Where to Go When - the best destinations in India by month
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 - visiting Delhi, Agra and Jaipur
Visiting Rajasthan - our guide to India's largest state
Visiting Kerala - everything you need to know about Kerala
Tiger Safaris - where to see a tiger in the wild
Holi Festival FAQ - where to go, tips, safety and more
Diwali Festival FAQ - all your frequently asked questions answered
India Video Lounge - incredible India beautifully captured on film

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