Seasonal travel in India is something quite easy to do simply because India has something for every traveler! India has the mighty Himalayas on one side and more than 7500 km of coastline on the other. The country has a massive desert on one side and, on the other, the wettest place on Earth. With 28 states, each with their own culture, traditions, festivals, weather, landscape, and food, the diversity in the country is vast.
The varied seasons in the country determine the appropriate time to visit a particular region. Thus, no matter which time one chooses, there will always be the perfect place to see in India. The list of suggestions can be exhaustive and confusing. Take a look at the top three destinations of India for each of its seasons.
Places to Visit in the Summers (March to May):
Leh & Ladakh:
The snow-capped peaks of the Himalayan range stand tall in the backdrop of this spectacularly beautiful arid region. Ranging from a staggering 10000-18000 ft. above sea level, the regions of Leh and Ladakh are home to glacial lakes, frozen rivers, high-altitude passes, picture-perfect monasteries, and incredibly warm people. Must-visit places are the Pangong Lake and the Thiksey Monastery. The more adventurous can opt for the frozen river trek of Zanskar. Visit in the summers as winters get biting cold, with temperatures dropping to -20 degrees.
The capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla is a perfect destination for family travel. Aptly commercialized, it offers plenty of activities for tourists. Be it the famous toy train ride, a walk on the mall road, or a trek to the revered Jakhu Temple, one will never be short of activities. The remaining colonial structures of the erstwhile summer capital of the British Empire add to the old-world charm of this place.
Characterized by the beautiful Naini Lake, Nainital sits at more than 8000 ft above sea level. Summers are very pleasant and the perfect time to visit a number of other lakes in Nainital’s vicinity. One can choose to enjoy boating at many of these water bodies and just watch the beautiful sunsets. The more adventurous ones would love the options of river rafting, trekking, parasailing, horse riding, and much more.
Places to Visit in the Monsoons (June to September):
Darjeeling is much more than the usual mountain sightseeing affair. In monsoons, the surroundings go resplendently green, and clouds hang on the tea estates like a veil. A good steaming cup of Darjeeling brew while watching the rain is one of the most beautiful things to do here. The must-do things are a ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (UNESCO World Heritage), zigzagging through the narrow lanes of the venerable hill station, viewing the elusive snow leopard and red panda at the Himalayan Zoological Park, the magnificent Dali Monastery, and the Japanese White Peace Pagoda.
Vizag is grossly underrated. The combination of beaches and mountains is rare, and the city looks spectacular from its varied vantage points above the hills. During monsoons, thick cloud cover engulfs the city and adjoining hills, providing pristine views of the city along with the vast sea. One must visit INS Kursurara – India’s fifth submarine and key proponent in the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, the popular statues of Shiva and Parvati in the sacred park of Kailash Giri, the gorgeous Rushikonda Beach and the magnificent ocean view from the lighthouse at Dolphin’s Nose.
During monsoon, Goa is beautifully bathed in the hue of monsoonal green with desolate sandy beaches. The crowds are less, the roads are beautiful, and the weather whimsical. Few properties and shacks are open. You will see a different side of Goa and will get more time to experience and explore the beauty of the place sans the usual mass. Try to trace the beaches from North Goa to South Goa along its magnificent 101 km length of rugged coastline.
Places to Visit in Autumn (September to October):
Post monsoons, the Nilgiri Hills look vibrant green. Their gorgeous waterfalls are in all their glory. The organic spice gardens and contoured tea estates fill up the beautiful scenery. It is home to some surprisingly quaint and lavish properties set perfectly in the lap of the tea gardens. Add some lovely treks and vantage points, it is one of the perfect places to see in India during autumn.
The capital of Meghalaya is a modern town and is regarded as the educational hub of the Northeast. The state receives an ungodly amount of annual rainfall. Pre-winter months of October and November is the best time to visit. Must-see places are the beautiful three-tiered Elephant Falls, the huge Umiam Lake, the expansive Shilling Golf Course, and the Cathedral Church. You can also visit the abode of clouds and one of the wettest places on Earth in Cherrapunji or experience Asia’s cleanest village in Mawlynnong. Both these places are a few hours away from Shillong and can be covered on day trips.
The capital of Nagaland, Kohima is remembered in history for the 2nd World War. 917 Hindu and Sikh soldiers, along with the British Army, laid down their lives while thwarting repeated attacks from the Japanese Army from the Indo – Burmese border. The Kohima War Cemetery rests 1420 valiant soldiers with their names etched on marble stone slabs. Kohima is also home to the biggest church in Eastern India. The Reconciliation Cathedral (known for its quirky architecture), the Kohima Museum, which displays a variety of tribal paraphernalia and artifacts, giving a peek into the culture and traditions of the Naga tribes and the ruins of the ancient Kachari Kingdom in Dimapur. It is also the ideal base to explore several heritage villages like Khonama and Kisama and to embark on adventurous treks of the mystical Dzukou Valley or the Japfu Peak.
Places To Visit in Winters (November to February):
Walk along the boulder-strewn paths of the UNESCO World Heritage site with ruins of gigantic temples and erratic rocky hillocks, massive, towering gateways, expansive courtyards, and symmetrical step wells. Around 1600 structures still remain on the banks of the Tungabhadra River and make Hampi one of the World’s best ‘open-air museums.’ The best time to visit is December – January as the weather gets too hot at any other time of the year owing to the bald rocky terrain.
One of the best destinations to experience snowfall during winters with the least chance of getting stranded. Dalhousie is touristy, with many high-end properties gracing its slopes. The famous Gandhi and Subhash Chowks are the places to be during the evening hours. It is also the ideal base to visit Khajjiar (the mini-Switzerland of India), Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary (home of the Himalayan Black Bear), and the spectacular Dainkund hilltop (9000ft.).
Winters is one of the best times to visit the pink city of India. Explore the splendor of its majestic past in Amber Fort, watch the beautiful Jal Mahal in the heart of the city. Explore the stunning Albert Hall (Rajasthan’s oldest museum). Take a picture with the magnificent five-storied honeycomb hived designed Hawa Mahal, and experience the UNESCO World Heritage site of Jantar Mantar. Indulge in some retail therapy at Rajasthan Small Scale Cottage Industry, which sells a plethora of products made by local artisans – jewelry, gemstones, carpets, quilts, hand block printed sarees, souvenirs, shoes, and much more.
The recommendations here will ensure that no matter what season or the kind of activities you prefer in leisure, there is a place for everyone. Seasonal travel in India offers an astounding diversity of flora, fauna, festivals, art, culture, traditions, and geography, whatever you come for to India will be fulfilled. Beaches, mountains, deserts, waterfalls, lakes forts, tea estates, war history and historical remains, religious and ancient establishments, and so on – the list is endless.
These are just some of the many, MANY, places that are worth seeing in India. Keep coming back for more updates.