Weather and Climate of India
India is a large country that contains many different climates and microclimates. When planning your trip to India, one very important thing to consider is the weather and climate of your destinations because if you don't plan carefully you could experience heavy rains, extreme heat, or both.
In this article, we will explain India's weather, seasons, and climate zones as well as the monthly temperature and rainfall averages in the country's most popular destinations.
Making general statements about the climate of India is difficult because it changes so much as you travel from region to region or even state to state. When people think of weather in India, they often imagine it to be hot and humid and that is true for a large portion of the country but not for all of it.
Most of India can be classified as tropical due to its location in Southeast Asia. However, the northern states of India have completely different weather that is affected mostly by the nearby Himalayas. The western Indian states, such as Rajasthan, have a dry desert climate which is very different from the rainforests of the south.
Although there are many different climate zones within India, the majority of the country does experience summer monsoons which bring heavy rainfall and storms. These monsoons typically happen from May to October with a peak in June. Monsoons affect every state in differently and reach South India before North India.
Seasons in India
Because India is affected by monsoons, its seasons are different from the typical spring, summer, autumn, and winter seasons that many other countries are accustomed to. In India, there is much debate about what to call their unique seasons but generally, India has a winter, summer, monsoon season, and post-monsoon season.
Winter in India starts in mid-November and lasts through February. Winter is known as the best time to travel in India because of its cooler temperatures and dry weather. Although there are many different climates in the country, India experiences pleasant weather in most regions during this time.
December and January are the coldest months with temperatures around 10-15 (50-59F) degrees Celsius in the northwest and 20-25 degrees Celsius (68-77F) in the southeast.
After winter, temperatures rise the country experiences summer from the months of March to May. This can lead to extreme heat in certain areas of the country, although it can be a good time to visit India as the crowds are much smaller and hotel prices are cheaper. During summer, temperatures can reach up to 45 degrees Celsius (115F) in the northwestern desert states. South India experiences pre-monsoon rains at this time.
After summer, India experiences the monsoon season which starts with heavy rains in June and lasts until September. The monsoon season is known for being unpredictable and can cause landslides or flooding in certain areas of the country. Southern and eastern India typically get hit the hardest by monsoons.
The last season of the year is the post monsoon season which lasts from October to November. This season is the transition between the monsoons and winter so temperatures drop and rains become less frequent. However, this time is also when South India experiences their heaviest rainfall of the year.
Climate Zones in India
India has many climate and microclimate zones. Below we will talk about some of the major ones including the Himalayan regions, the western deserts, and the eastern and southern tropics.
The regions of India that border the Himalayas and are higher in elevation than the rest of the country and experience a colder and dryer climate.
Weather in this area depends greatly on altitude with the temperature falling on average by 0.6 degrees Celsius for every rise in elevation of 100 meters.
In this area, rainfall occurs mostly in the summer and the winters are typically dry with cold winds. Summers can still be quite hot in the lowlands reaching around 45 degrees Celsius, but weather is much cooler in regions of higher elevations such as Jammu and Kashmir.
The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, and the northern parts of West Bengal and Sikkim all have this type of weather and climate.
Although the states on the western side often have less rainfall as they are not affected as strongly by the monsoon season.
In northwest India, there is an area called the Thar Desert Region which covers Rajasthan and Gujarat. This is one of the driest regions in the country and there are many parts of the desert that only get rain once every few years.
It is best to visit the deserts in winter as temperatures in summer can reach up to a dangerous 50C (122F) in some areas.
The states that surround the Thar Desert Region of India including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi still have a desert climate although it is less extreme with more rainfall.
The rest of India can be generally described as having a tropical climate.
Although weather still affects each region a little differently, most of central and southern India including Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, South Gujarat, and Western Maharashtra all experience tropical weather and are greatly affected by the monsoon seasons.
This area of India experiences high temperatures year-round with high humidity and rainfall.
Most of the rain in these regions happens between April and October and is enough to sustain growth all year with no dry season. If you want to see some of the country's famous wildlife and tropical rainforests then this area is where you should go.
It should be noted that while the majority of this region is tropical, the weather can still vary within this large area.
Monsoons and Typhoons
There are two monsoons that affect the seasons in India. The first is the southwest monsoon which arrives in Kerala in early June and then slowly spreads north across the rest of the country bringing heavy rains. During the monsoons, the weather will typically be hot and humid with heavy downpours separated by short appearances of the sun.
Monsoons are unpredictable and tend to affect India differently every year. The lowlands of West Bengal are particularly susceptible to flooding during this time and the foothills of the Himalayas can experience landslides that close roads.
The monsoon season also has a risk of extreme tropical storms like typhoons hitting India. The Eastern and Southern coasts are especially at risk of these storms. If you are traveling in India during monsoon season it is important to continuously check the weather and news channels for information about the chances of typhoons.
Weather in India's Main Cities
Below we will explain what weather you can expect when traveling in the most popular tourist cities in the country. For all of the following cities except Ladakh, the best time to visit is in the winter and although you will experience higher prices and larger crowds, the comfortable weather will make travel much easier.
The best time to visit Agra is from November to February when the temperatures are the most comfortable. The coolest months in Agra are December and January with average temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius (68-77F).
The hottest and rainiest months of the year in Agra are March to September. The hottest month is June with highs of around 41 degrees Celsius ( 106F). The wettest month is normally August with an average rainfall of 272mm (10 inches).
Cochin has a tropical monsoon climate so the best time to visit is in the dry season which is from November to March. Temperatures in Cochin are always high with the winter months of December to May having temperatures of around 32 degrees Celsius (90F).
June is the wettest month with an average rainfall of 727mm (29 inches).
Delhi's climate is characterized by a dry cool winter and a hot wet summer. The best months to visit Delhi are January, February, and December because you are most likely to experience good weather with average temperatures from 20-25 degrees Celsius (68-77F).
Summers are unpleasantly hot with temperatures from April to June reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104F). The wettest month is typically August with an average rainfall of 233mm (9 inches).
Goa tends to be hot all year round with temperatures not changing much over the seasons and staying at around 30 degrees Celsius (86F). The biggest change Goa experience is in rainfall. The best time to visit Goa is in the dry season which is from October to May. The rest of the year is affected by the southwest monsoon.
The hottest months in Goa are April and May which can have highs of up to 34 degrees Celsius (94F). The wettest month is July with an average of 959 mm (38 inches) of rainfall.
Jaipur has a semi-arid climate and the best time to visit is in the winter months, from December to January, in order to experience the most comfortable temperatures. During the hot summer months, temperatures in Jaipur can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius (104F).
Jaipur is located in a desert region experiences little rainfall, but the rainiest days normally happen in August that has an average rainfall of 211mm (8 inches).
Kolkata experiences high temperatures year round with highs in April of around 36 degrees Celsius (97F). December and January are the most comfortable months to visit the city with the coolest temperatures and driest weather.
The wettest month in Kolkata is July with an average 375mm (15 inches) of rainfall.
Leh is located in the far north at a higher elevation than most other cities. Therefore, it experiences weather that is different from the rest of India. The best time to visit Leh is actually from June to September while the rest of the country experiences the monsoons.
From December to March, weather in Leh can be described as cold and dry with temperatures that drop below freezing. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the city was -23 degrees Celsius (-10F).
Mumbai is in the tropical region of India and experiences year-round high temperatures. The best time to visit Mumbai is during the dry season which lasts from December to May.
The wettest month in Mumbai is July with an average rainfall of 885 mm (34 inches). The coolest month is January with highs of around 28C (82F).
Climate Change in India
While the weather in India varies greatly depending on the region, monsoons, and elevation, it is possible that the weather in India will only become more difficult to predict. India is likely to be one of the countries that will be strongly affected by climate change in the near future.
Climate change in India will lead to unpredictable weather in the country and cause more natural disasters such as flooding, landslides, and dangerous heatwaves.
Therefore, when traveling to India be sure to stay aware of any sudden changes in weather and always double check for any weather updates before traveling.
Tips When Visiting India
What should you bring to India?
Because India experiences high temperatures from October to May, it is important to bring items such as sunglasses, sunhats, and sunscreen with you when you visit.
It’s also a good idea to bring loose and comfortable clothing so that it is easier to stay cool while you travel and explore. Wearing loose long pants and loose shirts is a good way to stay cool and also to respect the conservative dress code of many locals.
Another important item you should bring with you to India is mosquito repellent. Being a tropical country, mosquitos bite all year round so using repellent is important in order to stay comfortable. This is especially true in central and southern India.
When should you Visit?
It is possible to visit India during any time of the year, however, each season has its advantages and disadvantages.
The high season (October to February) has more comfortable temperatures and dryer weather, but it is also the time of year when prices for travel and accommodation are most expensive and crowds in tourist areas are more likely. Some popular boutique and heritage hotels can also be hard to book during the high season.
During the summer months, midday temperatures are high in the majority of the country which can be uncomfortable. However, travel and accommodation prices are much lower and travelers can arrange tours in the morning when temperatures are more comfortable. Summer is also a great time to visit Leh or other areas near the Himalayas.
It can be difficult to travel in India during the monsoon season because weather can be unpredictable and there is a possibility of typhoons along the eastern coast. However, if you carefully watch the weather and are okay with rain then it is a good time to get deals on travel and accommodation.
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