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India – climate, when to travel and where not to travel part I

The Climate

India’s climate encompasses a wide range of weather conditions across a vast geographic scale and varied topography, making it hard to generalise. India plays host to 6 major climatic sub-types, from arid desert in the west, alpine tundra and glaciers in the north, and humid tropical regions supporting rainforests in the southwest and the island territories, based on the Köppen system. Many regions have entirely different microclimates. There are 4 seasons – winter January and February; summer March to May; a monsoon (rainy) season June-September; and a post-monsoon period October to December.

India’s unique geography and geology heavily influence its climate. This is especially true of the Himalayas in the north and the Thar Desert in the northwest. The Himalayas obstruct the extremely cold katabatic winds coming in that blow down from Central Asia. Hence, North India is kept warm or only mildly cooled during the winter season. In the summer months, the same phenomenon makes India pretty hot. Although the Tropic of Cancer, the boundary between the tropics and subtropics, runs through the middle of India, the entire country is considered to be tropical.

As is common throughout much of the tropics, the monsoon and other weather conditions in India are unstable – huge droughts, floods, earthquakes, cyclones and other natural disasters are infrequent, but have killed or displaced millions.

The climate is of major importance when deciding when to visit India. Bear in mind that there is a distinct difference in climatic conditions in the far north to those of the extreme south. Although there are of course 4 seasons, generally, India’s climate is defined by 3 seasons – the hot, the wet (monsoon) and the cool, each of which may differ in duration from north to south. The most pleasant time to visit most places is during the cooler period from November to roughly mid-February.

The Hot Season

The heat starts to gather on India’s northern plains from around February, by April or May it gets really hot, with the hottest time being June. Temperatures of 45°C and above are common in central India. During these months South India also becomes extremely hot, sometimes unbearably so! Late in May the first signs of the monsoon appear in some areas – high humidity, electrical storms, short rainstorms and dust storms that turn the day as dark as night. The hot season is the time to leave the plains behind, heading for the cooler hills. This is when hill stations are at their best – and busiest!

The Monsoon Season

When the monsoon fully arrives, the rain falls steadily, usually starting the beginning of June in the extreme south, then spreading north to cover the whole country by early July. The main monsoon comes from the southwest, but the southeast coast – and southern Kerala – are mainly affected by the short and astoundingly wet northeast monsoon, which brings rain from around October to early December. Things don’t really cool down though – hot, dry, dusty weather is merely replaced by hot, humid and muddy conditions. It doesn’t rain all day, but usually it does rain every day. Followed by the sun this makes for a tiring steam room environment.

India – climate, when to travel and where not to travel Part II

India – climate, when to travel and where not to travel Part II

The Main Tourist Season

Sometime close to October the monsoon finishes for most of the country. This is when India receives most of its tourists – however, it is now too late to visit Ladakh. For this, May to October is the best period. During October and November it is generally neither too hot, nor too cold, although October can still be hot and/or humid in some areas.

Deep into the winter season, around mid-December to mid-January, Delhi and other northern cities can turn surprisingly cold, especially at night. In the far north it is freezing cold. In the far south the temperatures are comfortably warm over this time.

Festivals

It’s worth finding out the dates of particular festivals – you may be attracted or repelled by the chaos and over-pricedness of everything at these times. There are virtually no festivals during May and June. The wedding season is between November and March, when you’re likely to witness at least one lively procession through the streets.

Areas of Conflict

There are several Indian regions which are prone to occasional conflict. Jammu and Kashmir (as district from Ladakh) are subject to political violence and travellers should seek consular advice before entering any area bordering Pakistan in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab.

Consular advice should also be sought if considering to travel to Assam, Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur in northeast India. Militant groups operate sporadically in some rural areas of Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Orissa.

It is advisable to check out the following website for more information on this:
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india

Following the death of Hizbul Mujahadeen commander Burhan Wani, there have been widespread violent protests in the Kashmir Valley since 9 July 2016, resulting in a number of deaths and serious casualties. Protests and demonstrations are ongoing across the valley. An indefinite curfew remains in place in Srinagar with continued military patrols in operation. All markets, shops, restaurants and tourist sites are closed, but hotels remain open. Mobile and internet telecommunications are suspended, all transport and local infrastructure have been severely disrupted by the protests.

Flight schedules are disrupted and travellers may need to provide proof of travel to access the route to the airport. The Amarnath Yatra which was suspended on 9 July 2016, re-opened on 12 July 2016. If you’re travelling in or through Srinagar you should remain vigilant, avoid protests or large gatherings, follow the advice of the local authorities and your travel company and monitor the local media.

India – climate, when to travel and where not to travel part I