Travelling in India in April and May
16.05.2010 47 °C
One of the things I was looking forward to most about visiting India was travelling around Rajastan. Beautiful forts and palaces telling tales of India's rich and colourful past, home to the Rajputs, warrior clans from the sun, moon and fire, who have ruled this part of India for 1000 years.
Sadly, it was not to be. It was just too darn hot. 47 degrees in the desert is not ideal and after a dutch guy we met told us how he passed out on a camel, our minds were made up. Rajastan would have to wait for another time, perhaps for a shorter trip and a romantic splurge in some of its beautiful hotels.
Indian Summer - travelling in April, May and beyond
Travelling in India during the summer season is not a breezy experience, especially when India is experience on if its biggest heatwaves in decades. Delhi, Rajastan and the north are dry and seriously hot, whilst south India (Goa, Kerala and the like) become open air steam rooms with humidity at unbearable levels.
My advice for anyone wishing to travel in April or May is to spend as much time as possible in the Himalayan foothills and beyond where the altitude cools the air and the nature is stunning. From mid May onwards, when the rest of India prepares for the monsoons, the passes open to Ladakh and Leh to the far north. This area is supposed to be breathtaking, with snow capped mountains, cool mountain air and Buddhist monastries.
If the political situation allows, Kashmir in the northwest is also supposed to be beautiful. As the disputed territory between India and Pakistan (well, disputed by Pakistan as it falls within India) it really is essential to check up to date official advice. The UK foriegn office advised against travel there, so we didn't take the risk.
Another route worth thinking about, especially for those who like a good trek is Nepal, although check the visa situation, as currently, you are required to stay out of India for two months before re-entering, even if you have a multiple entry tourist visa. How incredible would it be to reach Everest's basecamp or beyond though? Now that would be a story for the grandkids!
Visas aside, we didn't have time to visit Nepal and having spent a fair bit of time in the hills, we decided to endure the heat through Agra, Varanasi and Kolkata, before catching a flight to the incredible Andaman islands off the east coast of India. We had run into a few travellers who told of an undeveloped tropical paradise, with white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters... cue the soundtrack from 'The Beach'.