From tropical beaches to snow-capped Himalayan peaks, from monsoon mist to desert sandstorm, India is a land of climatic adventures. While monsoon has a significant impact on culture and economy, rains don’t necessarily cause hindrance to travelers: local rain conditions differ greatly from place to place.
Climate plays a key factor in deciding when to visit India, or where to go:
South India – Western & Eastern Ghats, Deccan Plateau:
Winter (dry season): from November to February. The best time to visit South India, which has a humid subtropical climate. The temperatures remain pleasant between 20 and 30° C in plains and coastal regions. Temperatures may decrease down to 5° in hilly aeras though. October is also a very good month for Kerala and Karnataka.
Summer (humid season): from March to May or June. Temperatures remain steady in South India throughout the year (as compared to sharp contrasts in North India). In April and May the temperature may warm up to 35° in Kerala and Karnataka and 40° in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. This is the time to enjoy hill stations in Nilgiri Mountains.
Monsoon (rainy season): from June to September. South West Monsoon hits Kerala first in June then go North to Karnataka and Indo-Gangetic plains. Tamil Nadu and Eastern coast are hit by Monsoon from July onwards, and experience the Retreating Monsoon from October to December with humidity and winds originating from North East. Monsoon is the best season for Ayurvedic cures in Kerala.
North India – Indo-Gangetic Plain:
Winter (dry season): from October to March. The best time to visit North India. The weather is dry with little or no rain. Temperatures usually remain pleasant (15-30°C) but can be chilly at night and decline as low as 5°C in December and January, so pack warm clothes! Heavy fog can also affect air and railway traffic during these two months.
Summer (dry hot season): from April to June. The weather remain dry and temperatures warms up to 45°C or more in May-June! Hence if you travel in May or June, you may want to spend less time in plains and opt for Himalayan hill stations! If you are brave enough to bear the heat, it may be your best chance to spot animals in wildlife sanctuary…
Monsoon (rainy season): Southwestern monsoon arrives in North India late June or early July, bringing a respite to heatwave. Rainfall amounts remain reasonable, especially in Rajasthan arid region, allowing one to travel. Water-soaked vegetation and cloudy skies even set the best sceneries for memorable photos!
Himalayan Southern ranges (Himachal Pradesh, Lahaul, Spiti, Uttarakhand) and Eastern Ranges (Assam, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Arunachal) are subjected to monsoon mist and fog, if not floods. Hence they are best visited from April to June and in October and November.
Northernmost areas such as Kashmir, Zanskar, Ladakh are protected from monsoon by southern Himalayan ranges. Hence they are best visited from May to September, during the summer alpine season. Nights can be chilly and winters are freezing.