The Weather in India
The weather in India varies dramatically: when the southern tip of India is being lashed by tropical monsoon rain, the north will be blanketed in thick snow. So the best time to travel to India depends upon the places on your itinerary.
India is half the size of the USA and divided into seven different climatic regions:
- The Himalayas
- Assam and West Bengal
- The Indus-Ganges Plain (a huge area that runs from the River Indus in Pakistan, following the course of the River Ganges east to Bangladesh; home to 1 billion people or 1/7 of the World’s population!)
- North Indian Plain (a huge section of north-central India)
- The Western Ghats and west coast
- The Deccan Plateau (south-central India)
- The Eastern Ghats and Eastern coast
This is complicated!
In general the north of India is cooler, the centre is hotter and drier, and the south has a tropical climate.
It’s easiest to think of three season:- winter, summer and the monsoon. Generally, the best time to visit India is during the winter when the weather in most places is relatively cool and pleasant.
Summer (March to May)
India starts heating up from around February, first in the northern plains and then the rest of the country. By April, many places experience daily temperatures exceeding 40° C. It stays cooler in the southern parts of the country, with temperatures reaching around 35° C although it’s a lot more humid.
In late May, signs of the approaching monsoon begin. Humidity levels build, and there are thunderstorms and dust storms.
The most tiring thing about summer in India is that the heat is relentless. Day after day the weather doesn’t change: it’s always extremely hot, sunny and dry. The mountains and Hill Stations are good to visit. This is a good season for wildlife viewing because animals seek out the dwindling water supplies to cool off in.
Monsoon (June to October)
India actually has two monsoons: the southwest monsoon and the northeast monsoon. The southwest monsoon, which is the main monsoon, comes in from the sea and starts making its way up India’s west coast in early June. By mid-July most of the country is covered in rain. This gradually starts clearing from most places and finally departs from northwest India by October.
The northeast monsoon affects India’s east coast during November and December. It’s a short but intense monsoon. The states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala receive most of their rainfall from the northeast monsoon, while the rest of the country receives most of its rainfall from the southwest monsoon.
Travelling is tricky during the monsoon with muddy roads, swollen rivers and damaged bridges. It’s an excellent time to be in Ladakh for trekking and Kashmir for houseboats.
Winter (November to February)
The disappearance of the monsoon marks the start of clear sunny skies and the beginning of the main tourist season – particularly domestic tourism to beach areas such as Goa. Daytime winter temperatures are comfortable, although often quite chilly at night. In the south, it never gets cold. This is in complete contrast to the freezing temperatures experienced in India’s far north, around the Himalaya region.
This is the best time to be in South India in places such as Kerala. It’s also the ideal season for Rajasthan in the north.