The Top 5 Best (and Worst) Parts About Traveling to India During the Off-Season

by Madeline Brewer

If you have the chance to travel to and around India, then you are lucky enough. A country that is rich in history and culture, has much to offer a traveler.  While yes, you may very well come back smelly, exhausted, and having suffered from extreme culture shock; you will have also seen some of the most amazing places in the world, eaten some of the best food, and had some of the most important experiences of your life.

India is an exceptional place to travel, because of all there is to encounter. Everything from pristine beaches in Goa, to rugged mountain treks in the Himalayas, tiger sanctuaries in the Ranthambore Jungle, to old military forts in Chennai; India has everything you could ever want. While in India, you can reconnect with your spirituality and experience the most raw human emotion at the Ghats in Varanasi, or reconnect with your patience and experience chaos while you wander the streets and alleys of Old Delhi. With over 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Taj Mahal, the Himalayan Mountains, and the Ganges River, India will never cease to be a playground for those who love to travel.

However, just like in nature, India has seasons of when it is most popular to visit. Here is a list of the top pros and cons of visiting India when it is not within the normal tourist season.

Pro: Many hotels and resorts offer discounted rates to guests during the months of May-August because of low occupancy.  Many times offers can be up to 50% off. In a city, such as Jaipur, known for luxurious accommodations, the discount can make it possible to stay at an old palace turned modern hotel, on a budget.

Con:  The temperature in the summer can be stifling. With temperatures that can easily reach up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in July, it can make being outside not only unbearable, but also unsafe. Dehydration and heat stroke are common among tourists who are traveling through the summer months.  The lack of shade, in popular areas, with the combination of hot roads can sometimes make sightseeing intolerable.  While there are always many stands that sell water, sometimes even the life saving popsicle, it is vital to have water with you before setting off into town.  But really, it is hot.

Pro: Many young people who are in Universities across the world are home for the summer.  This, paired with awesome, “summer time specials,” allows for intimate settings with young locals, who, more than likely, will be thrilled to show off their famous Indian hospitality.  In New Delhi, Hauz Khas Village has regular themed nights during the summer, such as live music night, which are generally combined with killer happy hour deals.

Con: The off-season is also correlated to monsoon season. Monsoons in India are no laughing matter. The torrential rain can cause pandemonium on a city and make it next to impossible to get anywhere. In Delhi, a regular 20-minute commute can easily take an hour and a half.

Another downfall of the downpours is that many nature preserves are closed.  For example, the tiger sanctuary in Ranthambore National Park takes an official hiatus from July 1st to September 30th, which means no one is allowed into the park at all.

However, one major plus of monsoon season is that the mountains are at their prime in beauty. While it can be a bit far to get to, Churdhar is a great place to summit during the monsoon season, because everything has exploded with green. A mini trek in the Himalayas is a perfect way to escape a stuffy city. The hike will be entirely dependent on the weather and rain, but if you get lucky, you will be rewarded with some of the most breathtaking beautiful sites of the Himalayas.

Pro:  Independence Day in India is a pretty big deal.  On August 15th, the entire country celebrates the Independence from England, with parades and parties. In New Delhi, the entire week leading up to the date, the city explodes with patriotic paraphernalia and decorations.  On the day of August 15th, the President delivers a speech, and a parade encompasses the whole city. It is a special day to celebrate because the entire country is celebrating besides you. The explosion of orange, green, and white decorations all over the city really allows you to remember the importance of this date to Indians all over the world.

India is a travelers dream come true.  Any traveler who wishes to broaden their horizon and encounter new experiences will be rewarded with India. While it is less common to venture there during the summer months, it can be a treat for those who wish to journey off the “traditional” path. Making the experience absolutely unforgettable.