India is a huge country with one of the biggest mountains on one side and lots of coastline on the other side. There are a lot of different climates, topographies and seasons which can impact one’s travel. In general, the places in the north of the country have lower temperatures as compared to the central and the south of India. The hot areas are at the east coast of south India and few parts of west and south east India. The coldest area includes the mountains in the north. As you start heading south from the cooler northern areas, you get to feel the humid subtropical climate which then merges with the deserts of Rajasthan in the west. The subtropical belt is hot and humid. It receives a lot of rainfall during the monsoon season. As you go further down, the coastline starts to impacts the climate on both the east and the west, while the centre remains hot and dry. The coastal region is tropical and humid, with states like Kerala receiving rainfall all year around, although much less in the winter. The winter season, which is from November to February, is the best time to travel to India. However, it also largely depends on your interest in specific destinations in India. For instance to visit any hilly regions like Leh Ladakh, May to June will be a good time Wildlife national parks are closed during June to September.
Unlike many other cold countries, the winters in India are pleasant and indeed the best time to travel to India. Temperature is cool and pleasant during the day time and can get slightly chilly at night. Western India is extremely pleasant to travel to during winters. Northern India gets more cold in the winter, especially New Delhi and Rajasthan areas but it would rarely go below 2-3 degrees celsius. One should probably focus to travel in the west side of the country during this time of the year, unless you are interested in skiing. The coastal areas have a fairly constant temperature and are pleasant in the winters. The only exception to this is the areas in the southern states of Karnataka & Kerala, where the north-eastern monsoon can cause flash showers in November and December. Most of the west India will have clear skies during this period. Beaches are popular tourist destinations in the winter, particularly the tropical beaches in the state of Goa. There are also excellent beaches in the states of Karnataka & Kerala. Other popular winter destinations is the desert state of Rajasthan which is simply too hot to visit at the other time of the year.
The summer season, which probably might not be the best time to travel to India, is from March to June. India gets really hot in the summer. The northern subtropical plains heat up first, followed by other regions. Travellers head to northern mountain destinations from later March to June, since the central plains hit temperatures that can be well over 40 degrees centigrade, which is around 105 degree Fahrenheit. The coastal areas in the south are comparatively cooler, but they are still hot and the high humidity makes them uncomfortable. You can look for the best hill station destinations like Munnar or Ooty which will be cool in summer.
The monsoon season in India is from July to October, which again, may not be the best time to travel to India, especially if you are travelling for a holiday and also for wildlife. The south west monsoon which sweeps across India from south to north starts in the late May or early June. There is also a second monsoon, called the east monsoon, which affects only the coastal areas of south India, including the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu & Kerala. India’s monsoon can be a little unsettling for some travellers as it is very unpredictable. Rain can start without warning and can lasts for days at a time.
The time immediately after the monsoon is the hottest in India. Monsoon winds starts to blow across India by the end of May. The maximum rainfall throughout the country is in July & August. The best place to travel to India during monsoon climate is the far north side of the country which remains cool and dry. The town of Leh in the isolated Ladakh region is the popular destination at this time of the year. Monsoons can be wet but its cooler and has its charm. Some travellers prefer to travel in the low season when they can get the best deals on hotels. The outdoor activities might be limited but they can enjoy a quite time interacting with the locals, without other tourists around. For example, Goa is green and beautiful during the monsoons but the beaches are effectively closed by the rough waters and the art music and outdoor yoga sessions that you find in winters are mostly closed down during monsoon season.
Travellers visiting India for yoga & meditation, can travel to the northern cities of Rishikesh & Haridwar. The best time to travel to India to visit these places is between October and March. These areas have monsoon rains from June to September with the strongest rain in July and August. May is the hottest time but April and June are also hot and many yoga centres may not be in operation. If you travel further north, to the town of Dharamshala, you need to be more aware about the monsoon period i.e. from July to September. Since Dharamshala is in the mountains, it is generally cooler than the rest of the country, even in the summer. In the east, you have the spiritual cities of Bodhgaya and Varanasi. These areas are best to visit from November to February when it is cool and dry. The best time to travel to city of Mumbai and the small state of Goa, in the west coast is also during winters, i.e. between December & February when it is still quite warm. Avoid visiting these places during monsoon period which is from June till September.
Heading to the southern India are the cities of Bengaluru, Mysuru, Coimbatore, Chennai, Madurai & Trivandrum. Even though these cities are closely located, the weather pattern can be dramatically different from that of coastal ones. The weather in the cities of Bengaluru & Mysuru is pretty much pleasant around the year with mild rains in September and peak heat in April. Coimbatore & Madurai are similar but are much warmer all year. The coastal city of Chennai has strong monsoon rains in October and November whereas the coastal city of Trivandrum gets an additional heavy rain in June.
Hence, the best time to travel to India would indeed depend on your purpose of the vacation. A leisure holiday with specific interests need proper consultation and planning for a seamless travel experience in India.
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