Travel to India takes you to a kaleidoscope of cultures, cuisine and climate, and can be an exciting affair. Millions of tourists flock to India every year, visiting centuries old relics like the Taj Mahal, unwinding on secluded, white sand beaches or ingesting the beautiful landscapes that abound in all corners of India. Tourists who want to visit India should familiarize themselves with facts about India, when to travel to India and where to go in India and in which particular months of the year.

Facts about India - Topography and Climate

 Monsoons in India By Jorge Reverter
India is a huge country with an expansive coastline at one end and the world’s highest mountains on the other. Rivers, lakes, deserts, hills and lush green fields mark the Indian landscape.

The climate also varies along with the topography. With tourists destinations spread across the Indian soil like scattered pearls, it is important that tourists going to India possess the relevant information about India and the climates in different regions.

There are 7 climatic regions defined by the Indian Meteorological Service. As a rule-of thumb, the places in the north of the country have lower temperatures as compared to those in the center and south. The colder areas include the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Right next to them in their south is an expansive belt of humid, subtropical climate, merging with the famous Rajasthan desert. The region is generally hot and humid and receives a lot of rain during the monsoon season. Further down, the Indian coastline starts to affect the climate in the coastal regions in the east and the west, while the center remains hot and dry. The coastal regions are tropical and humid with states like Kerala receiving rainfall all year around.

Climate and Travel Information about India

Travel in India during Summer Season (April to June)

India experiences a hot summer. The northern, subtropical plains are first to heat up, followed by other regions.  Traveling in the plains can be especially taxing after the month of April, because of the searing heat and scorching sun.  Travelers should head for northern destinations from April to June, as the plains have temperatures soaring to 105 degrees F or more. The coastal areas in the south are comparatively less hot but more humid, making traveling hard.

Nainital is a favorite tourist destination during the summer months. Located in the state of Uttarkhand bordering Nepal, the picturesque city is nestled in the foothills of southern Himalayas. At an elevation of 6,837 ft above sea level, the city is home to some 40,000 souls, with a literacy rate of 91%. Temperatures remain between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit even when the central plains are boiling.

Myth has it that the eyes (“Nain” in Hindi) of a goddess fell at this place and turned into the Nainital Lake. Apart from the breathtaking views of the valley, Nainital also has Jim Corbett National Park 63 km away, which is the habitat for elephants, tigers, chital, king cobras and a wide variety of plants and animals. There are some pristine lakes and snow covered peaks in the vicinity of Nainital that tourist frequent.

Manali is the second most visited tourist destination during the summers. It is located 580 km north of Delhi in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Summers are the best time to be at Manali. The temperatures are comfortably cool. The scenery is awe-inspiring and the hotels are affordable. The town also features a plethora of adventure sports including Paragliding, hiking, mountaineering and skiing.

Travel in India during Monsoon Season (July to October)

Monsoon winds start to blow across the Indian subcontinent by the end of May. July and August are the months with maximum rainfall throughout India. Coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala are hit by the northeast monsoon in November and December.

Monsoon in India can be very unpredictable. Rainy spells may set in without much warning and may last for days, making it cumbersome to travel. Often, monsoon rains cause floods, inundating large swaths of land and making travel further difficult.

The environment in the far north is cool and dry when the rest of the country is being lashed by rains. The town of Leh in Ladakh is situated at an elevation of 11500 feet from the mean sea level. The isolated Ladakh region is a high and dry place with deserts interspersing the world’s highest mountain ranges. The barren but beautiful landscape of Ladakh is dotted with ancient Buddhist monasteries that draw thousands of tourists every year.  Paragliding, trekking and climbing some of the most breathtaking mountains are the activities that will keep you busy at Leh. There are two festivals, one in September and one in May/June, during which Leh turns into a solitary bride of sorts.

Other recommended monsoon tourist destinations in India include the Valley of Flowers in northern India's state of Uttarakhand and Periyar National Park in Kerala.

Travel in India during Winter Season (November to January)

Winters are the perfect time to visit and travel in mainland India. The temperatures are cool and comfortable during daytime and can get chilly at night. The skies are generally clear over the plains. The coastal areas don’t experience a drastic drop in temperatures, and the weather there remains pleasant, other than Kerala or Karnataka where northeastern monsoon causes flash showers in November and December.

Other than the north, which gets incredibly cold with snow falling and temperatures dropping below freezing point, the rest of India can be best enjoyed during these months.

Beaches are the most popular tourist attraction during winters, including at least 12 white sand, tropical beaches in Goa. Goa is also famous for its Portuguese architecture and greenery. Some of the finest resorts and hotels, abundant water sports facilities and a quiet, calm atmosphere make Goa a must see for people traveling to India. Some of the best beaches in India are located in Kerala and Karnataka.

Other than the beaches, a visit to India in winters is incomplete without visiting the desert state of Rajasthan, where you probably can’t go during the scorching summer months. The barren desert landscape can be daunting, to say the least.

Avoid venturing to the north during winters, unless you want to go there for skiing.

You may find it helpful to refer to the Indian Meterological Department who have a useful download of monthly mean maximum and minimum temperatures and total rainfall based upon 1901-2000 data for selected cities. 


India Climate Chart

Here's a rough idea of how the weather in India changes over the year. Many thanks to India Miker beach for putting together the original India climate chart on India Mike.  

India Climate Chart

NOTE: The darker the shades, the stronger the weather for that month.