Best time to visit South India

temperature & rainfall

Many of us think of climate in terms of north vs. south with, but in South India you need to think east and west – of the Ghat Mountains. You can have incessant rain west of them but hot and dry to the east. The monsoon brings the highest heat and humidity, with rain Jun-Sep, but mostly to the west of the mountains. Hottest months are Mar-May, averaging 32°C. The best time to visit South India depends really on your plans; if you want to do lots of city cultural heritage, you might want to avoid the hottest months. For hiking in the Ghats Mountains, come just after the monsoon when everything turns technicolour.

When to visit South India


If you like to swim, Goa is not a goer between March and May as the winds pick up and the sea gets rough. A lot of businesses close during this month. When monsoon hits in mid June until October, it becomes a party state again but this time with local people, who celebrate the rains falling. One such festival is Sao-Joao late June.

The best time to visit Karnataka is November to April. There is very little rain and so it’s ideal for hiking in the Ghats or wildlife watching in Bandipur National Park.

Hill stations in the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu such as Ooty can get very cold between October and February, getting as low as 5°C in February. And similarly very humid in April to June.

Houseboats in Kerala aren’t a lot of fun in the rainy season, with the monsoon peaking June, July and August.

The best time for viewing elephants in Periyar National Park in Kerala or Bandipur National Park in Karnataka is during the hotter months of March and May, when they spend the most time at the waterfront.

If you want to go on a rail holiday in South India, be aware that prices shoot up in peak season, which is December to February.

In the states of Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi in September is a colourful and musical celebration to mark the birth of Ganesha. It is celebrated for 10 days, culminating in a finale on Anant Chaturdasi day.

According to Ayurveda tradition, monsoon is the best season for rejuvenation therapies because the pores of the body open wide allowing them to fully absorb the oils and therapeutic treatments.

Diwali, or Deepavali , the great Festival of Light, is always a splendid affair, falling in either October or November. The Tamil Brahmin in Kalpathy on the Kerala coast celebrate it traditionally, driving mammoth temple chariots through the streets.

In Tamil Nadu, the Tamil New Year is around 14 April and is a great time of local festivities. Another great celebration here is Pongal, a four-day harvest festival in January or February. The name comes from Tamil, meaning ‘to boil’, as the main harvest is for rice.
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Responsible Travel recommends


Diana Syrett, Managing Director of one of our top suppliers, Kerala Connections: “December and January are really busy in Kerala, and so if you don’t want crowds and very high prices, these months are best to avoid. June and July are still the time to avoid because of the monsoon, but really you can go anytime outside those months. “
Rajat Kumar, Managing Director at our supplier ExplorIndya: “February and March are wonderful in South India , because places and people are more relaxed after the Christmas rush. October and November are also great, as it is fresh off the monsoon and everything is luscious and green. For hiking March is perfect with clear blue skies - the sort of weather where you wake up with your eyes closed and still know it is a sunny day."
Anna Perkins, one of our travellers on the Southern India Tour, Temples and Nature: “We expected it to be hot. But July was VERY hot... except in the Nilgiri hills where it was beautifully cool and an easy introduction to India. Small, uncrowded towns and villages.”

Festivals & events


Did you know...?

November is a happening month in Karnataka, with Rajyotsava Day on 1st November to celebrate the formation of the state with processions and music. And also the Hampi Festival, when the ruins are rocking with music and glistening with light shows.
Photo credits: [Tempchart: Jakub Michankow] [What happens - Diana: Julia Maudlin] [What happens - Anna: Mike Prince] [Festival: Jogesh S]
Written by Catherine Mack
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