Many times I came across the question when is the best time to visit India. India is a huge country and has a very diverse climate. So the first thing you actually need to consider when booking your trip is what places in India are you planning to go.
On my first trips to cities like Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Bikaner in the Rajasthan state, I inadvertently caught the best time to travel to India. While my latest trip to India was last year from August to September, and I found out it was not the best season to go to Delhi.
At the end of my trip, I was confident enough to help travellers and expats avoid getting sick in India and decide what was the best time to go. After all, I spent a full month wandering around the historical places in Delhi, visiting monuments, gardens and temples as well as more offbeat areas of Delhi.
Our guide to the best time to visit India
- Seasons in India
- Best season to travel to India
- When are mosquitoes most active in India?
- Festivals in India
- What to pack for India – Our tips
When is the best time to go to India?
India is a tropical country in the Subcontinent, and considering the different weather in the different states, we can count four seasons. However, the four seasons in India don’t correspond to those of the other continents. In most parts of the country, India weather doesn’t include spring and autumn.
Alongside the weather, another big factor to decide when to go to India is its festivals. From Holi to Diwali, India traditional festivals make it one of the top destinations in the Subcontinent.
Seasons in India
To help you decide when is the best time to visit India, below are some figures of the different seasons and temperatures. These are just to give you an idea, since the weather in India can vary depending on the states (cities like Rishikesh in the northern state of Uttarakhand and regions like Spiti Valley are much colder in winter and have both spring and autumn), and even in the same state depending on the area.
Temperatures and seasons in India can vary a lot depending on the state. These, roughly, the temperatures in states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Karnataka and the capital of India, Delhi:
Summer temperatures can be 24 to 45 degrees Celsius
Monsoon season, from June to September, goes from 20 to 40 degrees Celsius
Post-monsoon season: October to December, 15 degrees Celsius – 30 degrees Celsius
Winter temperatures, January to March, go 10 to 25 degrees Celsius
READ MORE: Essential guide to what to pack for India
Summer in India
The Indian summer goes from around end of March through May. In this season, the weather can become very hot and humid. In many places quite unbearable. Plus, mosquitoes can become an issue and you need to keep them clear to avoid unpleasant surprises such as dengue and malaria.
This also depends on the regions. If you are heading to Uttarakhand and the Himalayas, this is the perfect season. Here, in fact, winter is too cold and snowy, and the monsoons can bring heavy rains that would block the roads and create floods.
Monsoon season in India
The monsoon season goes from June/July to September. We went to Delhi several times and once it was in August. The weather was very hot and humid and we could notice it was when mosquitoes were most active in India.
Indians love the monsoon season and the rainfalls it brings. Tourists might not find it very practical for visiting historic places, especially the archaeological sites out of the cities.
What we can call the fourth season in India is the post-monsoon season. This starts from October up to December and has slightly different features than the monsoon one.
Winter in India
Finally, winter in many regions of India popular among tourists such as Delhi, Agra and Uttarakhand goes from December through February or first half of March. This is usually considered the best time to go to India because of the nice weather and less chance to be attacked by mosquitoes.
Cool and dry weather allows you to better enjoy the places, a walk either in the city or in nature and not to suffocate for the humidity you can find in other seasons.
This is a great season to travel to Delhi, Agra and the Rajasthan state, but I don’t recommend going to the Himalayas.
Overall, the best season to visit India weather-wise is from early October to late March.
That is when the deserts and the cities are not too hot also when most of the traditional festivals are held. This is why winter is usually regarded as the best time to visit India weather-wise and for a great choice of things to do and see.
Again, it depends on where you are going in India. For instance, Mount Abu in the Rajasthan state is recommended between March and May, so right after the winter season.
Kerala, one of the most visited states in India, has mild temperatures all year long, being the maximum 33 degrees and the minimum never going below 20 degrees. During the monsoon season, that starts in Kerala and covers the whole country, the rainfalls have been recorded as 80% in the northern area and some 40-50% in the southern regions.
India boasts 22 official languages and at least six recognized religions. When it comes to the weather, we can safely say they have pretty much the same variety. This is why it’s hard to pin down general figures for the whole country and also decide exactly when it’s the best time to visit India before planning an itinerary.
When it gets to 45 degrees, it’s hot enough to start melting the surface asphalt on the roads of many parts of India. If you are not used to it, it really is unbearable to engage in outdoor activities or stay out a day walking even in places like Delhi or Hyderabad.
What you need to keep in mind is not only the heat but also the strong humidity and poor public hygiene which is always a problem in India. The custom of urinating on the sides of roads and urban streets and in the trash areas packed with all sort of mixed trash that stays exposed under the sun give the cities a pretty nasty smell. Summer sees a higher rate of patients hospitalized due to the contaminated water and poor hygienic conditions that can cause different infections.
Mosquito season in India – When are mosquitoes most active in India?
During the summer and monsoon seasons, the presence of mosquitos is another issue that hits wet and warm areas. Mosquitoes can cause malaria, dengue fever, encephalitis and other ailments.
When we were in Delhi last August (not so much the best time to go to India), the cousin of a friend of ours was hospitalized due to the dengue fever. He stayed in the hospital for weeks and finally when he was released, doctors told him the disease is going to stay in his system for good.
Taking his misadventure as a warning, we used anything possible to keep mosquitoes away. In the house, we kept the doors and windows closed all the time and the air conditioning on around the clock. This also helps keep the mosquitoes away. We even used the smoky anti-dengue device and then the anti-mosquito electronic plug-ins in all rooms. When outside, we also used some mosquito-repellent lotion.
While we are not saying in winter you can lower your guard, there is less chance to pick any of these illnesses and the trip is definitely more enjoyable. Obviously, in winter, too, you need to be careful about what you eat and drink in order to avoid food poisoning from Indian food.
Even though we have suggested that the best time to visit India is in winter, we are aware that for many full-time employees this is not always possible as often the only season they can plan their vacation is summer. So we have put together a list of essential things to pack for India.
Festivals in India
Many travellers plan their trip to India on time to attend some of its most famous festivals. Here are some Indian festivals that attract tourists from all over the world.
Holi – Indian festival of colours
The Indian festival known with the name of Holi celebrates the victory of good over evil. One of the celebrations that open the festivities is the burning of Holika demon (Holika Dahan). Usually, the ritual happens on the day before Holi with big bonfires lit as a metaphor. Even though Holi is most famous for the day when people throw colourful powders at each other, the festival, a Spring ritual to give thanks for the harvest after the winter, has different features in the different regions.
During Holi, people will usually spend the morning throwing coloured powder and water on each other. This happens especially in Delhi, while in other regions they have different customs and traditions. In Barsana (Uttar Pradesh), women beat men with sticks, in West Bengal, they organise several cultural activities to engage visitors, in Punjab, they perform shows of martial arts.
March is, in general, a good month to travel to India, so if you decide, get ready to enjoy this important festival.
READ MORE: Our guide to the best hotels in Delhi
Diwali – Indian festival of lights
Diwali is another popular festival in India and one of the longest as it lasts for five days. Here, too, Indians celebrate the victory of good over evil. In Hinduism, this is the festivity where Lord Ram and Hanuman monkey god defeat the Ravan demon rescuing Sita, Ram’s wife.
Diwali is celebrated in October or November, depending on the moon, and it usually happens a day early in Southern India. If you are travelling to India around this time of the year and would like to attend Diwali, you can do so just about all over the country except Kerala, where it’s not much of a tradition.
Each day carries a different meaning, and the specific place you will go will celebrate it in a different way. You might want to enquire before arriving on the local rituals and celebrations to make sure you enjoy the festival in full.
What to pack for India
If you are travelling between October and March, which is the best season to visit India, except for some mountainous areas where it gets very cold, first of all, we recommend you pack clothes for temperatures ranging between 10 to 30 degrees Celsius such as jeans, shirts and light jumpers/jackets. Even a light tunic that covers your hips would be a good idea since in India they stare until you start freaking out!
Once you decide when is the best time to visit India for you, the next step is to plan what to pack. Here are some essentials we think you will need when you go to India to avoid getting sick or have some emergency treatment handy if you are out of the bigger cities.
Drugs and medications. Even though in India you will find pretty much everything, we suggest you arrive already with some sort of first-aid kits in case diarrhoea or vomiting kicks out at night or when you don’t have a chemist within handy reach.
Whether you have a sensitive stomach or not, chances are you will get sick in India. I always do and I’m hardly the only one. So when my stomach and intestine react, I have my natural remedies ready. What do I carry with me in India?
- Probiotics. Friends of the intestine, if you are lactose-intolerant like me, you will prefer the lactose-free ones like this one. You can even start taking it before travelling and feeling sick, it will just make your guts stronger.
- Zeolite. Its nickname is “intestine sweeper” because it absorbs the toxins. You can find this in powder or tablets, I took the powder and mixed less than half teaspoon half an hour before lunch in a glass of water. You just follow the instructions for the product of your choice, probably travelling the tablets are better. Either way, make sure you drink a lot of water (clean water!).
- Grapefruit seeds. Great for fighting infections of fungus and parasites in the intestine and stomach. If needed, it’s also astringent. I take one capsule after lunch and dinner also long after I healed, but you better follow the instruction for your product or ask your naturopath. You can find them in drops and tablets. Drops are super bitter so I prefer tablets.
- Vaccinium Vitis Idaea. It helps restore the good bacteria of your intestine and fight inflammation when your colon is irritated. I use it in drops. Same here for the instructions, consult a naturopath and follow the instructions.
- Activated charcoal. I also carry activated charcoal in tablets which can help get rid of the toxins and food poisoning. Even though I use this way less than the other remedies as I don’t find it very helpful for me.
Water purifier. One of the biggest problems travellers find in India is the water. Tap water is contaminated, so not only you can’t drink it, but you shouldn’t use it for brushing your teeth or washing fruits and veggies either. When you are out of the city, hiking, trekking, or in any way far from shops, you might find it hard to bring litres of water.
This is why a water purifier might come in handy. There are many types of water purifiers such as “pens”, straws or tablets, you can pick one depending on your needs, space, and preferences.
Mosquito repellent and mosquito nets. Very little can be done against mosquitoes, except protecting yourself using mosquito repellent products when you are going out. If you are going out of town, you can even use a mosquito net to hang on your tent or bed for more protection.
Inside the house or hotel room, you can also use an electronic mosquito repellent to plug in, they sell it in many shops and supermarkets in Delhi. It’s not heavy though, so it won’t harm if you actually carry one from home. If you are wondering what to pack for India in summer, any type of mosquito repellent is something you can’t afford to forget in order to avoid not only nasty bites but also Dengue fever.
Sunscreen. Even though the best time to visit India is during winter, it’s still mostly a warm and sunny country, so don’t forget to take a strong sunscreen with you. The lighter the skin, the stronger the protection. If you forget it, don’t worry, you can find many in India, although maybe not as strong as you would like.
Universal plug adapter. Make sure you have a proper plug adapter so you charge your electronics such as mobile phone, tablet, laptop, camera, etc.
Comfortable shoes. Either if you are staying in the city or hiking in the jungle, we definitely recommend some very comfortable shoes, be it runners, Birkenstock or whatever is your favourite style. Streets in India are not really great and also in some parts of Delhi, there is no sidewalk. Plus, the traffic is mental and you definitely want to wear some comfortable shoes.