My parents are both academicians. The best part about being an academician is that your vaccations match your children’s vacations. My parents made the most of this and every summer holiday we were heading to somewhere exciting in India!
So when is the best time to go to India ? With the exception of North India and North East India, most parts of India have a very pleasant weather from November to February. Having said that I would like to add that India is a charming country that can be visited any time throughout the year.
The best part about India is that it is geographically extremely diverse. With landscape ranging from snow-capped mountain ranges to deserts, hills, plains, and plateaus, you will always find some part of India conducive to travel in every season.
If you’re looking to visit India but do not know when is the best time to go to India, here are some things you may want to consider when making that decision.
There are basically three things you could look at when deciding what is the best time to go to India:
1. The reason decides the season
If you are coming to India for the Frozen river trek then you need to come during winters.
If you want to attend special festivals like the Rann of Kutch Festival, Kumbh Mela, the Camel fair in Pushkar then you need to check dates for those special occasions.
Northeast India is best enjoyed post monsoons. So your reason to visit India will help you decide the best season.
2. School Holidays
India is largely crowded no matter when you visit India. But if you happen to visit during School Holidays many destinations would be over crowded. So if you’re someone who would rather avoid crowds, you may want to pay special attention to when Indians are on holiday.
Festivals, school holidays and Religious fairs attract a lot of Indian crowd making few destinations way too crowded.
3. Price of accommodation
Different season favour different “States of India”. During off season you are likely to strike a better bargain.
Now I will go into each point in more detail…
How many seasons does India have?
Winter: December to January
Spring: Feburary to March
Summer: April to June
Monsoon (Popularly called as Rainy season) : July to Mid-September
Autumn: September end to November
According to Hindu scriptures there are six seasons
According to Hindu calendar there are six seasons in a year which are timed with the agriculture cycles, blooming of natural flowers, fall of leaves, and weather.
I would say the following dates give a better picture of the Indian seasons.
Vasant Ritu: Spring – In 2019, Spring begins on 18th February and ends on 20th April.
Grishma Ritu: Summer – In 2019, Summer begins on 20th April and ends on 21st June.
Varsha Ritu: Monsoon – In 2019, Monsoon begins on 21st June and ends on 23rd August.
Sharad Ritu: Autumn – In 2019, Autumn begins on 23rd August and ends on 23rd October.
Hemant Ritu: Pre-winter – In 2019, Pre Winter begins on 23rd October and ends on 21st December.
Shishir or Shita Ritu: Winter – In 2019, Winter begins on 21st December and ends on 18th February.
Which is the best season to visit India?
Consider the purpose of your visit to India to decide!
What are you coming to India to do?
Do the Golden Triangle of Jaipur-Amritsar- Agra, go trekking in the Himalayas, Explore the unexplored North East India, visit the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho, Temples of South India or experience the Spiritual cities like Varanasi, Prayagraj, and Hrishikesh.
In Spring (Vasant Ritu: 18th February 2019 to 20th April 2019) you can visit North of India. In February, Snow can still fall in few places in Himachal Pradesh (like Shimla, Theog, Kufri, Narkhanda to name a few) and Uttarakhand (Munsiyari) so it’s still the perfect time to experience snow fall and see snow on the mountains.
Gahirmatha Beach in Orissa, Velas in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra are famous for Olive Ridley turtles that visit the respective beaches every year to lay eggs. November t March is the right to visit the hatching of eggs of Olive Ridley turtles.
Summers (Grishma Ritu: 20th April 2019 to 21st June 2019) is best enjoyed in North India which includes Jammu & Kashmir including Leh-Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh including Spiti Valley, Uttarakhand.
The Seven sister states of North East India will also have a pleasant weather. It is the perfect time for adventure, trekking or just slow travel in any hilly area.
Monsoon (Varsha Ritu: 21st June 2019 to 23rd August 2019) I would recommend visit Meghalaya, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka immediately post the monsoons.
Monsoons can get very unpredictable in these states. If you are not much of a fan of rains then avoid these states. But these very states towards the end of the monsoon are breathtakingly beautiful.
Post monsoon is the best time to visit the splendor of the seasonal waterfalls and natural lakes in these states.
The core zones of all the Tiger reserves in India are closed during the monsoons (broadly 1st July till 30th Sept).
But the buffer zones are open for safari in these parks and though tiger spotting would be rare during monsoon in buffer zones you can enjoy the beauty of the lush green forests.
In seasons other than monsoons you can plan a visit to Panna, Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Pench in Madhya Pradesh, Tadoba in Maharashtra, Ranthamhore National Park in Rajasthan, Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.
Keoladeo and Bhatapur Bird Sanctuary are open round the year for tourism. But, birding is at it’s peak during Dec till mid Feb when the migratory birds visit.
Monsoon, can be seen as lean season in India. So if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy the rains then Monsoon is the season for you in India.
Pre Winter & Winter (23rd Octoberto 18thFebruary 2020)can be seen as the peak tourist season for most parts of India.
Rajasthan and Goa are the costliest and busiest in this season.
The weather in Rajasthan and Goa is very pleasant during the winters.
Winter can be hazardous where driving is concerned, especially in areas that are at a higher elevation such as mountain passes (Especially Spiti in Himachal Pradesh).
Ski fields in Auli, Manali & Kufri tend to open around January. A few might open earlier if snow conditions are really good, but that does not happen often.
In short, except the North and North East India most parts of India would be very pleasant to visit.
When is India the most crowded?
School holidays is the time when most Indians can be seen taking time off from work. So if you want to avoid the crowds, avoid the period when Indian schools have holidays.
All Indian schools do not have holidays around the same time. So Schools in Delhi and North of India would have longer winter holidays which will not be the case for the rest of India.
Broadly the schools would be closed around these dates:-
- Mid April to June End – Summer Holidays
- 1st week and 3rd week of October – Due to Dussera & Diwali Festivals
- Last week of December – Winter Holidays
You can also take India Public Holidays into account when planning a visit. For 2019 – 2020, these dates are:
*Actual Dates may vary based on Planetary Positions.
Holiday Calendar – https://www.india.gov.in/calendar
State and UT Holiday Calendar – https://www.india.gov.in/state-and-ut-holiday-calendar
And finally, Each State will have its own State Day Holiday. You can find these dates on the above mentioned website.
Which are the cheapest months for accommodation?
July and early August can be seen as low season in India. Due to the Monsoons business slows down. You can find the best rates at hotels and homestays during this time of the year.
Which are the most expensive months for accommodation?
The most expensive months are October to March during the peak tourist season. Booking way in advance is then highly recommended.
The concept of homestays and Village Homestays in India is gradauly gaining popularity especially in North and North-East parts of India.
Another thing to note is that if you are visiting a National Monument on a long weekend expect the place to be very crowded.
Final words on the best time to go to India
Personally, I think India is so varied you will always find some place or the other to go to no matter which season.
Do you like to do Yoga while traveling? 21st June is International Day of Yoga and you can head to Rishikesh in Uttarakhand for a week or two for Yoga Retreat.
When kids start school in July, I like to go for some very high altitude trek or cycling expedition in the Himalayas. Spiti, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and other North Eastern States are worth visiting during these months.
If you would like to witness some interesting festivals in India then book your tickets accordingly.
Around end of August one can head for the oldest river boat fiesta in India called Aranmula Boat Race in Kerala. In Early september head to Mumbai for the massive celebration of the Ganesh Chaturthi. Kolkatta will charm you with Durga Pooja in early October.
If Indian fairs are what you are interested in then you will need to plan your trip accordingly.
The Pushkar Camel Fair starts on 4th November 2019 and ends on 12 November 2019. In Pushkar Camel Festival, thousands of camels and other cattle are brought by owners on the sand dunes of Pushkar to be traded by villagers.
November to Mid-February is a great time to visit the great Rann of Kutch in the Gujarat state of India also happens to be one of the biggest salt deserts in the world.
Surajkund International Crafts Fair is held from 1st Feb to 17th February every year. The vibrant colours, crafts, music and the entire deco of the Surajkund Craft Mela is a treat for anyone and everyone who loves Indian Arts, crafts and fairs.
Varanasi is my favorite spiritual place and I can visit it almost any time of the year. You can read more about it here.
If you want to try the medicinal and exotic Bhang Thandai or Bhang Lassi read more about it here.
Do women tourists need to wear Saree when visiting India? The answer is NO! You don’t HAVE to! But if you can’t help fall in love with the vibrant colors and figure-hugging feature of Sari then you definitely must not feel shy in draping a sari. Read more about how to perfectly drape a Sari.
Note: I had come across a very well drafted article on “When is the best time to go to New Zealand?” – this article influenced me to write the present post on India – my native country.