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Best time to visit India – Kerala
Best time to visit India – Kerala

When shall you go on a Kerala Holiday?

India has a very distinctive climate and a different concept of seasons. While the winters are mostly pleasant with moderate temperatures and almost no precipitation the summer months of April, May, October and November can get unbearably hot. From June to September the wet monsoon covers almost the entire country and brings lots of rain and humidity. Therefore, one needs to especially consider the climate to specify the best time to visit Kerala. But also festivals play an important role to decide when to travel. Get in touch with us if you want to know where to go at which time of the year in Kerala.

Weather in Kerala around the year

Kerala is situated in a tropical climate zone which means that the region faces the typical humid to wet weather conditions like most of the planet’s rain forests. The annual average rainfall is higher than in most of India and the air feels often more humid than elsewhere. Due to the proximity to the equator and the warm dry winds from the north it should actually be very hot in Kerala but fortunately the high mountain ranges of the Western Ghats prevent the temperatures to rise much higher than 35 °C. All together the temperature in Kerala doesn’t vary much but it is of course cooler in the hill stations of Munnar, Wayanad or Thekkady than at the coast or in the cities of Kochi, Trivandrum, Thrissur or Calicut.

Winter starts by end of November and ends around end of February and beginning of March. The temperature rises rarely above 30°C and it rains very less to never. In the mountain ranges of Wayanad, Munnar and Thekkady you should definitely pack some warmer clothes as it can get quite cold in the morning and evening hours. You will definitely not require air-conditioned rooming. Since it is the best time to travel to this region it is also the main season for tourism. Be prepared for crowds at some of the sights.

While other popular places to visit in India like Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Madhya Pradesh get very hot in the summer months from March to end of May, the heat stays moderate in Kerala as the Western Ghats stop the hot winds and the Arabian Sea offers a constant cold breeze along the coast to enter the state. If it rains it usually comes with a lot of thunder and lightning and flooding is not rare but the water dries up quickly. The only issue is the high humidity which makes physical activities seem very exhausting. If you prefer to share the sights, mountain treks and national parks with less other tourists and want to stay at top-end accommodations for lower prices this season is perfect for you.

The monsoon hits Indian land first in Kerala around end of May or beginning of June. Kerala faces 85% of its annual rainfall from June until end of September. Since the wet and heavy clouds hit the western Ghats first in Kerala the precipitation is extremely high here and the humidity strong. If you do enjoy the tropical climate and rather explore nature in this weather than in the bright hot sun, then this is the time to come to Kerala. However, you might also get stuck indoors when the rain gets too heavy. On nature treks you will encounter a couple of blood-sucking ledges but locals always know how to prevent that. Due to landslides and floodings roads and train tracks might get blocked so that even your travel plans could come to a halt. So be prepared to be flexible.

South India faces another phase of monsoon from October to November and sometimes even until mid-December. The North-East-Monsoon doesn’t bring as much wetness as the earlier South-West-Monsoon but it can come in heavy with strong downpours, thunder and lightning. It gets as warm and humid as in the summer months of March to May.

Due to the climate conditions in Kerala there are more international tourists in winter than in the rest of the year. However, Kerala is a popular destination for domestic tourists, especially honeymooners all year around. And Indians do love the rainy season so even during the monsoon they will travel to the region around the Western Ghats.

Between May and September, the beaches turn empty. The current of the sea is too strong to swim and the wind and weather doesn’t allow you to sunbath either. Many resorts and restaurants close down for multiple months. The popular Backwaters are in season all year around but in the summer months of April and May you might not be able to explore as much of the river and lake landscape as the water levels are too low to explore all areas.

The best festivals in Kerala to visit around the year

Due to its interesting history of colonisation and trade Kerala is home to many religions: Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Therefore, there are many spiritual and cultural festivals to be celebrated but the biggest and most exotic ones are the Hinduist ones.

The temple festivals in Kerala are as colourful and impressive as the temples themselves. The so called Poorams happening in April and May in many temples around Kerala, mostly in the Ernakulam and Thrissur districts, are famous for the loud and exciting processions with dozens of heavily decorated elephants.

In July, August and September traditional snake boat races are happening in the backwaters and the rivers or Kerala. Nowadays it often becomes a political event rather than a religious one but it is fun to watch nonetheless.

Onam is the traditional harvest festival of Kerala celebrated for 10 days in September. It is the biggest fest for the locals so houses get decorated, feasts are being served and games are being played. The quirkiest part of this festival is the Onam Pulikkali Tiger Play, a folk art where men dress up as tigers and their hunters to dance to traditional music. A very funny parade to observe!

Kerala honours every year its spiritual and cultural diversity by even celebrating big Christian feasts and the Eid-Festivals of Islam. Friends of other communities are invited home and traditions are being shared. In a country divided by religion after independence Kerala serves as a role model to religious freedom and peace. But that also means all around the year there is at least one big festival celebrated in some part of the relative small state.

If religious festivals with big crowds are not your thing, maybe the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is. The contemporary art festival held every winter from December to March in Fort Kochi is one of its kind in India. One can find art exhibitions of all mediums all around the city in galleries and open spaces.

If you interested in travelling to Kerala, plan your trip with us now.


Best Time to Visit India
Best Time to Visit India

When is the best time to visit India?

India has a very distinctive climate and a different concept of seasons. While the winters are mostly pleasant with moderate temperatures and almost no precipitation the summer months of April, May, October and November can get unbearably hot. From June to September the wet monsoon covers almost the entire country and brings lots of rain and humidity. Therefore, one needs to especially consider the climate to specify the best time to visit India. But also festivals play an important role to decide when to travel. Plan your trip with us if you are not sure yet when to come or where to go at a particular time of the year. We can help you with candid advice and our own travel experience.

WHEN ARE THE MONSOONS? WHAT ARE THEY LIKE?

The Monsoon starts in June and lasts until September. It is a very exotic concept to those travelers coming from more moderate climate zones and arouse different associations – from constant drizzle to short but heavy rainfalls to tropical storms and gales. But India is a big country with multiple climate zones and therefore the monsoon can develop differently in various areas of India.

However, and we don’t want to butter it up: it does rain a lot! Not like British drizzle or the one shower for a couple of minutes you get in South-East Asia. It often rains for days and it rains heavily in the tropical areas of the west coast and in the north of India. The cities have an almost non-existent drainage system and the streets flood quickly. And on top of it there is the humidity, your constant travel companion. Clothes don’t dry for hours to days and the heat feels more discomforting. In the mountains they can cause cloud bursts and landslides. Airports and air traffic can get shut down due to fog and heavy downpours.

But even though the weather can be sometimes quite unpleasant and it might not be the absolute best time to visit India, there are benefits to this season. The nature comes to life, dry brown grasslands and forests become lush and green, the farmers welcome the season with full productivity and lakes and rivers as well as waterfalls fill up and become stronger than ever.

Many tourists avoid India in the monsoon which means that you have a lot of sights to yourself. Furthermore, it is the best time to visit India for budget-conscious backpackers who like to keep their expenses to a minimum but don’t want to miss out on some comfort. Many hotels offer their rooms for much less, often even for half the costs than in the main season.

Technically you can travel anywhere as long as you are mentally prepared and pack the right clothes. However, some areas might be more enjoyable than others. Goa and Kerala face a lot of rain and humidity. We would recommend to avoid the coastlines. The beaches lose their charm and the strong currents make swimming even dangerous. The beach resorts and shacks close already in April and don’t open again until September or even October. So it is the best time to hit the countryside and hill stations. Wayanad, Munnar and Thekkady are such places but also the Dudhsagar Waterfall Hike in Goa. Ooty in Tamil Nadu is very popular amongst domestic tourists to flee the heat of the cities. Munnar in the Western Ghats is famous for its tropical mountain climate as well as the tea plantations. A great destination even in the rain!

If you want to escape the Indian monsoon all together and enjoy stunning landscapes in the mountains, Ladakh might be the best destination for you. The state offers breathtaking views and great opportunities for hikes.

Rajasthan faces less rain rainfalls every year and some rural parts don’t even get any rain at all, especially in the Thar desert. There are very unique and beautiful boutique and heritage hotels that lower their prices a lot during the rainy season.

From June to August you should avoid travelling to the footsteps of the Himalayas. Rishikesh, Dharamsala, Manali, Shimla and Kasol as well as Sikkim and Darjeeling face a lot of heavy rainfall and therefore even many landslides. Trekking is impossible and you would need to stay indoors most of the time – not how you would like to spend your time in India.

 

WHEN IS SUMMER AND HOW HOT CAN IT GET?

From end of march until the start of the monsoon in June as well as in October and November it can get really hot. In central and the flat parts of northern India it can get as hot as 45-50 degree Celsius. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t travel to India. In fact, it only means that the mountains are calling!

This is the perfect time to visit the Himalayas or north east part of India. You can visit the spiritual city of Rishikesh which lie on the banks of the Holy river Ganga or the exile of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. You can visit British hill stations like Shimla or Darjeeling and hike in the foothills of the large mountain ranges both in Central North and North East. Ladakh becomes properly accessible by end of May.

From Mumbai in the north to the most southern tip of the subcontinent parallel to the western coast run the Western Ghats, a 1600km long mountain range listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Covered with national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, forest reserves as well as charming hill stations. Great places to escape the heat are Wayanad, Munnar, Thekkady, Coorg, Ooty and Conoor.

Every time you leave the plains and enter a mountainous area between March and June and in October and November you will feel the difference in temperature and air quality immediately. And since the off season starts in most of India in April you will already save lots of money on hotel bookings. Except in the mountains of the north where the main season is at full swing in April and May.

WHEN IS TOURIST SEASON?

The best time to visit India and therefore the tourist season ranges from November to beginning of March. This is when India faces mostly moderate temperatures in South, Central and the flat parts of North India to really cold weather with snow and inaccessible regions in the very North.

If you plan your holiday during this time, it is best to book at least three months in advance to get the best pick of hotels and easy access to train reservations.

The main tourist destinations such as Rajasthan, Agra (home to the Taj Mahal), Goa and Kerala get quite crowded. During Christmas and New Years in particular, Goa is completely packed as even a lot of domestic tourists come to these regions around this time.

Having said this, if you don’t just like the cooler temperatures but also meeting other interesting travelers, and you like the buzz and excitement around you while you travel, then there’s nothing quite like seeing India in peak season.

 

WHEN ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT INDIAN FESTIVALS?

There are few events and festivals in India which are a reason in itself to come visit. So if you can time your travel around them, it will make your trip even more magical. Diwali, the festival of lights is usually in October and sometimes beginning of November. Holi, the festival of colours is in March and a great fun experience. August and September are celebrated across the country with countless, diverse harvest and religious festivals like the Ganesh Charturthi (festival for the elephant headed god), Onam (ten days harvest festival in Kerala), Navrati (nine days festival to celebrate every form of the mother goddess) and Dusshera (religious festival based on the Hindu mythology).

While it might be great to observe the local festivities and take part in the ceremonies you also need to know that many of the festivals are celebrated at home amongst the families. Therefore, it would be best to stay at a homestay at that time. Just before and after holidays like Diwali all trains get booked out long in advance and fight rates are at an maximum since many Indians travel across the country to be with family. So you would need book much in advance.

The festival seasons may not always coincide with the holiday dates you had in mind, but just give us a shout and we’ll help you plan the best trip passible for that time of the year. There’s always something great going on in India, and we know exactly where it all is!

Check out also our Blog weather series for the different months in India. If you are still not sure when to visit India or where to go at the time you intend to travel, plan your trip with us and we can help you figure it out.