Avoiding the heat
India is a huge country, so it depends where you intend to visit. Unless you are planning on the Himalayas, the majority of India is pleasantly warm to hot all year round. Some cities however become extremely hot in the Indian summer. Although air-conditioning is commonplace in smarter hotels, restaurants and shopping malls, if you want to explore, it’s best to avoid the stifling heat if you can. Areas high above sea level maintain a pleasant, cooler climate, which accounts for the appeal of places like Bangalore – the Garden City – at 3,000 ft. above sea level, it is rarely unbearably hot – unlike Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai for example when from April to June it’s often scorching. Hill stations are cooler and if you want to go wildlife watching, the summer is a good time as the animals flock to the waterholes. Indian school holidays start around early May, so if you travel then, you’ll be competing with the home family market.
The monsoon – is it a no-no to visit then?
The monsoon timing varies slightly each year and within the region, starting in June and ending in September. Everyone generally welcomes the monsoon that signals a period of heavy rain after suffocating heat. Even after a downpour, things quickly dry and the temperature rises again. There can be flooding and road congestion and local travel disruption but it’s certainly worth considering visiting during this period, if you plan to stay in one place, as hotel rates will usually be lower. The rain clears the air, washes the dusty streets and any vegetation turns green and lush.
Unlike Europe in summer, it gets dark in India around 7pm throughout the year, with minor variations and there is no time difference throughout the country. Although many monuments are lit, don’t bank on the evenings for your sightseeing; restrict it to daylight hours when it will also be safer and you may take photographs.
If the purpose of your trip is to visit relatives and you have young children, try to avoid the extreme heat of summer. It can be difficult for young children to cope with the heat, especially if they are not used to it and could restrict what you are able to do and see. Problems with their sleeping could add to your woes.
The optimum time to visit for a traveller from Europe looking for some winter sun, with little chance of rain is October to March.