As most people in UK and USA have their main summer holidays between June and August a question I get asked alot is “Do I recommend traveling India in monsoon season?” and if so “What are the best places to visit in india during monsoon?”
It’s a difficult question to answer because, to be honest, monsoon is not the best time to be traveling India – but it’s also not totally impossible and not a reason to totally cancel your dreams of visiting India if monsoon time is the only time you can take a holiday.
Most travellers to India try to plan their trip to avoid the monsoon and the best time to visit most of from November – March when the weather is pleasant and comfortable for sightseeing as this is the dry and relatively cool (by Indian standards) winter. April and May start to get pretty hot ( a bad time to visit the desert states but a good time to escape up to the mountains) and in June the monsoon starts to arrive in Kerala first and then covers most of the country by July.
Traveling India during monsoon can be slower and more challenging than at other times. Sometimes cities can get dangerously flooded so always keep an eye on the weather reports and news and allow time for delays. Cities like Kolkata (Calcutta) that can get badly flooded.
Check out my monsoon travel tips here , my friends and expert trip planners India Someday also put together some great tips for traveling India during monsoon and more tips here in Trip Savvy’s epic monsoon travel guide.
But there are also the advantages of lower prices and fewer crowds, plus the rains are a respite from the summer heat and wash the dust away leaving the countryside gorgeously, glistening and green and waterfalls will be at their best. I love watching the first dramatic monsoon thunderstorms gather and explode and feeling the sweet, wet, cool relief of the people and the nature after the hot, sweaty, dusty month of May. India recvies most of it’s annual rainfall during June, July and August and these rains are so, so vital to India’s agriculture and livelihood. The best place to welcome the monsoon is around the tip of Kerala.
If you like to avoid the crowds and don’t mind a bit (or sometimes quite a lot!) of rain then traveling India in monsoon can actually be an interesting experience.
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It’s also good to be aware that some places in India are more affected by the rains than others – check out this post for the best places to visit in India during July and August to avoid the worst of the monsoon while some places are at their most luscious and beautiful during monsoon so carry on reading this post for tips on the best places to visit in India during monsoon season.
The tropical state of Kerala is lush and beautiful at any time of the year but it is even more spectacular during monsoon. The tea plantations and wildlife sanctuaries are at their most lush and it’s really romantic to cruise slowly along the backwaters warm and dry in a luxury house boat while you watch the rains outside. Kerala is the first place in India to revive the monsoon rains, normally on June 1st, and it’s also the first place where the rains stop.
The desert state of Rajasthan where you can explore ancient forts, opulent places and colourful local life is one of the most popular in India. Being a desert state it actually gets pretty cold in the winter peak season and is unbearably hot during summer but monsoon is not a bad time to visit Rajasthan at all as the state doesn’t receive as much rain and many other places in India plus monsoon season makes the desert come alive.
The surreal and beautiful town of Leh and region of Ladakh is arguably the very best place to visit in India during monsoon as its the best time to visit and it doesn’t receive any rain. It’s a remote and out of this world beautiful place in the Tibetan plateau of the Himalayas with an alpine desert, dry barren landscape and interesting, historic Buddhist monasteries.
The ride from Manali to Leh is one of the most epic in the world and it’s only accessible by road from late June till early October. Ladakh escapes the monsoon rains entirely but you won’t be the only one there– this is peak season and it can get pretty crowded.
The Valley of Flowers, in Uttarakhand is a stunning high-altitude Himalayan valley that most of the year is covered in snow but has over 300 different varieties of flowers that comes alive with the monsoon rain in a spectacular show of colour. It’ll be rainy but it will be worth it!
The mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh rewards travellers with stunning lush mountain scenery, relaxed, charming, spiritual mountain towns, adventure sports and trekking. If you’re coming in April or May then escape the heat and head to the mountains. In June or July then while it is already raining in South India you can also head up to the mountains of Himachal Pradesh before the monsoon heads up there. The best places to visit include Dharamshala, Manali, Parvati Valley and Spiti. Check out my ideal itinerary for traveling Himachal Pradesh and the Indian mountains here.
Kerala and Goa are the most popular beach destinations in India but are not the best places to visit in India during monsoon as the seas are often too rough for swimming. But the South East coast of Tamil Nadu has beaches as well as interesting ancient temples and culture and sees less rainfall in July and August as it gets most of its rain from the northeast monsoon in October to December. If you still want to visit Goa during monsoon check out my post on the pros and cons of visiting Goa during monsoon.
The Deccan Plateau on the eastern side of the Western Ghats mountain range also sees less rain and is home to interesting sights like the Ellora and Ajantha Caves, the cities of Hyderabad and Bangalore and also in Karnataka popular Hampi plus some more off beat historical places like Badami, Bidar and Bijapur might see less rain.
If you do like rain, and lots of it! Then head to hill stations like Coorg, Karnataka or Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu or visit North East India and the eastern Himalaya region, around Sikkim or Shillong and Cherrapunji in Meghalaya as these are some of the wettest places, not just India, but in the world!