Peak tourist season varies, but most visitors come in the cooler months of November-March. Temperatures in the most popular places – Delhi, Rajasthan, Agra, and Mumbai – are comfortable, and the rain is minimal.
Low season in most places is April-June, when temperatures soar.
July-November are busy months in the Himalayas, but less so elsewhere throughout India.
The north certainly experiences winter, and the Himalayas get heavy snow.
Winter in Delhi and across the northern plains is short, running through December-January, but gets very foggy. You’ll need some warm clothes, including travel through the desert areas.
India’s major cities are quite pleasant in winter, with far more comfortable temperatures than in the heat.
In tropical southern India, winter isn’t a concern. Temperatures there are always hot, and when it’s winter in the north, the weather is perfect for beach-going in the south.
Much of India is extremely hot in the summer (April-June, pre-monsoon).
The desert and northern plains (including Delhi, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh) are best avoided in summer – unless you can tolerate 40ºC/100ºF+ temperatures.
Shimla, in Himachal Pradesh, was the summer capital of the British Raj for good reason (its pleasant temperatures!). Plus, it’s only possible to travel overland to Ladakh between May-September, as the road is snow-bound the rest of the year.
If a bit of rain doesn’t scare you (and you have some good bug spray), monsoon season in the south can be gorgeous.
You will get wet, but many travelers with an interest in photography believe South India is at its best during monsoon, when the vegetation is lush and nature really comes to life.
The major cities are best avoided during the monsoon. Some places (like Kolkata) are prone to flooding in the streets, and the clamor and hustle of urban India can be even more trying when you’re dripping in sweat and rain.
If you don’t mind humidity though, monsoon is more comfortable than summer.
Most travelers will want to avoid the rain and snow while trekking in India.
However, that leaves you with narrow windows to choose from, but exactly which month is best will depend on where you want to go.
For jungle hikes in central and southern India, any time but monsoon is good.
It’s not possible to trek in Ladakh and the Himalayas in winter. April-October is the best time.
Other Himalayan states can be wet through July-August, but trekking is still possible, and wildflowers are abundant!
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Goats on the Road have a few tips to help you plan your entry visa and get those vaccinations in order, so you can get back to the best part of planning a trip to India.
How much will a trip to India cost? Backpackers Goats on the Road break down the basic costs of accommodation, transport, food, and activities in India.