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The best time to visit India

Here's how to get cheap flights and avoid monsoon season.

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The best time to visit India from October through November, when the climate is dry and relatively cool, compared to spring and summer. That said, the weather varies drastically depending on the state and city you’re visiting, so think about where you want to go first, then choose the optimal time to visit based on temperature, religious holidays and cultural events in that region.

Best time to visit India

October through March is an ideal time to visit India. By October, most of India says goodbye to monsoon season. Expect cooler weather and drier days into the winter months.

This time of year is also peak season, what with ideal weather. But you can steer clear of the thickest crowds by traveling during October and March — especially avoiding Christmas in late December.

What is monsoon season in India?

Monsoon season is defined by extreme humidity and rain that lasts for days at a time. It hits western and northern India hardest, and it’s most intense throughout June and July. Flooding and landslides are fairly common. Heavy fog slows the buses and trains, and streets can be dark at night due to power outages.

Still, many locals sing the beauty of India during monsoon as the land comes alive with lush greenery, waterfalls rush with energy and farmers eagerly await hydrating rain.

If you travel to India during monsoon, plan to avoid the coast and beaches. Expect delays when traveling, and of course, pack waterproof gear.

Cheapest time to visit India

The cheapest time to book flights to India is April, with a 5% drop in price on average, according to Kayak.com. Hotels and airlines also tend to drop prices during monsoon season, though you’ll run into a lot of rain and possible transportation cancellations if you travel during that time.

India sees its highest influx of tourists between June and July and December and January. Bargain travelers should avoid visiting during these periods — especially in December, when flight prices can spike by 17%.

Weather

India observes three seasons:

  • Summer. Summer occurs between March and June and is generally dry and dusty.
  • Winter. From October to April, winter is mild and dry.
  • Monsoon. Monsoon season hits between July and September.

For an idea of what to expect — and whether you should back an umbrella, sunhat or both — take a look at the average temps for three major cities in India.

New Delhi (north)

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
High70° F76° F86° F98° F104° F102° F96° F93° F94° F91° F83° F73° F
Low40° F51° F60° F71° F78° F82° F81° F80° F77° F67° F55° F47° F
Rain1 days2 days2 days1 days1 days5 days12 days12 days6 days0 days0 days1 days

Mumbai (west)

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
High88° F89° F91° F92° F92° F90° F87° F86° F88° F93° F93° F90° F
Low62° F65° F70° F75° F80° F79° F78° F77° F76° F75° F70° F65° F
Rain0 days0 days0 days0 days1 days16 days23 days22 days16 days4 days1 days0 days

Bengaluru (south)

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
High83° F87° F92° F94° F92° F85° F83° F82° F83° F83° F81° F80° F
Low60° F64° F68° F72° F71° F69° F68° F68° F68° F67° F64° F61° F
Rain0 days0 days1 days3 days9 days8 days9 days12 days11 days11 days5 days1 days

Average yearly temperatures sourced from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in February 2021.

Best time to visit India for …

  • Sightseeing and temple-hopping. The cool, dry months of October to March are best for discovering metropolitan India.
  • Festivals and events. Festivals are prevalent throughout the year. Popular events include Holi in March, Diwali in October and New Year’s in April.
  • Beaches. Winters in India are mild, and beaches are pleasant most months — except during monsoon. Popular beaches like Goa and Gokarna are best visited between October and January.
  • Mountain hiking. Due to its altitude, India’s mountain regions experience less scorching summers and colder and damper winters. Hiking is enjoyed all year round, but the best time can depend on the surrounding terrain. Our favorites include:
    • Himalayan Hampta Pass and Markha Valley tracks in early June, when snow still exists but monsoons haven’t yet hit hard. October is also ideal, striking a balance between warm weather and less intense rain.
    • The Valley of Flowers trek in the Himalayas in July and August post-monsoon, when flowers are in full bloom. Note that it’s open from June to August only.
    • The Kareri Lake Track during winter, as it’s a sight to behold when frozen over.

Holidays, festivals and cultural events

There are dozens of significant events, holidays and festivals in India each year, and many are specific to a region, state or religion. Here are a few of the most popular:

Winter

  • Magh Bihu. For a week between January and February, residents of India celebrate the end of harvest season with bull fighting, pot smashing, rice cakes and other sweet coconut treats.
  • Nagaur Festival. Cattle trading takes place during the day, but the real fun starts after sunset with puppet shoes, traditional dance, contests, tug-of-war and more.
  • Jaisalmer Desert Festival. Experience Rajasthan culture in Jaisalmer with camel rides, folk music, a mustache competition and an array of local delicacies.

Spring

  • Udanotsav. Mughal Gardens surrounding the president’s home in Rashtrapati Bavan, Delhi, are open to the public for a month every spring. Stop to smell hundreds of varieties of roses, tulips and bougainvillea throughout special themed gardens, including the Musical Garden, Herbal Garden, Bonsai Garden and Spiritual Garden.
  • Holi Festival. This joyful festival of color marks the arrival of spring and is celebrated by throwing colored powder and water balloons into the air. It takes place in March, though the exact date varies each year.

Summer

  • Mt. Abu Summer Festival. Hindus and Buddhists ring in summer with a two-day festival featuring traditional folk music ballads, folk dances, competitive events and more. This is a wonderful way to experience Rajasthan culture.
  • Shimla Summer Festival. In early June, head to Shimlah in northern India for a vibrant festival in the hills. Taste Himachal cuisine, attend a local fashion show and watch live music performances during this five-day celebration of the summer season.
  • Ganges river cruises. August is the best month for cruising between Patna and Varanasi along the Ganges, with high water levels thanks to frequent rain.

Fall

  • Diwali. In late October or early November, Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights. There are dazzling fireworks, bright floral arrangements, traditional dances, parades and more.
  • Camel Fair. In November, join thousands of spectators to watch as around 50,000 camels and goats descent on Pushkar in the company of their owners.
Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC advises postponing travel to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading COVID-19. If you plan to travel during the pandemic, monitor the risk assessment levels for your destination when planning your trip, before departure and on arrival. Follow safety measures that include wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing your hands. If you are diagnosed with, have symptoms of or are waiting for test results for COVID-19 — or are otherwise at risk of illness — do not attend gatherings or travel for 14 days.

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Bottom line

Target your travels to India during winter months to get the best weather — but avoid Christmas for shorter sightseeing lines. After you’ve marked your calendar, keep more rupees in your pocket by booking a cheap flight to India.

Frequently asked questions

When is the best time to visit the Taj Mahal?

From October to November or February to March, when you’ll find moderate weather. It’s best to avoid summer months, as severe heat and monsoon rains can make strolling the grandiose mausoleum unbearable.

Keep in mind that the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays, though it’s open in the afternoon for Muslim prayer.

When is the best time to visit Tamil Nadu in India?

January and February are the best months to visit Tamil Nadu. Temperatures in India’s southernmost state range from 69°F to 86°F — much cooler than the 102°F highs (plus maximum humidity) in May.

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