December and January are the coldest months in North India. However, most of the country rarely experiences freezing temperatures and snow. The weather tends to remain moderately warm in the North, and quite hot in South India.
In December, Delhi experiences temperatures of around 72°F during the day and 48°F at night, making December the second-coolest month of the year there (after January). The weather is occasionally hazy and foggy in the mornings around Delhi and the Golden Triangle region (Delhi plus Agra and Jaipur).
Mumbai and Kerala are significantly warmer at this time (highs can reach nearly 90°F). Kerala may experience a few days of rain. In Tamil Nadu, the weather is also quite warm (around 85°F), and it typically rains for several days during the month.
In the far north of India, Himalayan towns like Manali can experience temperatures as low as 41°F during the day and 16°F at night in December.
Crowds & Costs
During the period from October to March, the weather in India is very comfortable for sightseeing, making it a popular time to visit. Therefore, prices around the country may be somewhat elevated in December. It’s worth considering that tourists from the Southern Hemisphere are on their summer break from school at this time, which may lead to an increase in crowds. The Kerala Backwaters, in particular, are very popular in December. It’s wise to book in advance when possible.
Where to Go
If you don’t mind braving the crowds, December is a good month to visit Kerala. This Indian state is famous for its lush greenery, which will be on full display after the monsoon. December is also the peak season to see traditional theyyam performances. Plus, there is a large Christian population in Kerala, so this can be an interesting opportunity to experience Christmas in India.
You could also visit Rajasthan, where many interesting festivals take place in December—these include the Kumbhalgarh Festival and the Mount Abu Winter Festival, among others. The climate in Rajasthan is desert-like and winter evenings can be cold, so bring a jacket.
For more information, see India’s Main Regions: Where, Why, and When to Go.
What to Do
If you do choose to go to Kerala, don’t miss out on a tour of the Backwaters: a scenic network of rivers that can be toured by traditional wooden houseboat. On the houseboat, you will get the chance to see the Keralan countryside, as you pass by many villages and towns on the way. You’ll also get to experience the rich natural landscape of this area. On many houseboat tours, meals are provided—Keralan cuisine is unique in India, featuring many low-spice dishes cooked with coconut, curry leaves and mustard seeds.
In Rajasthan, there are many must-see cities that you could visit during the winter. These include Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Udaipur, all famous for their stunning architecture. For a full itinerary, you can check out this Best of Rajasthan Tour.
Events in December
Festivals and holidays abound in India throughout the wintertime, including in December. An interesting one to seek out is Rann Utsav in Kutch, Gujarat, which runs from October to February each year. This carnival takes place in a tent city at the edge of the White Rann, a salty marshland in the Thar Desert. During the festival, you can see folk music and dance performances.
Many places in India have Christian communities that celebrate holidays during December. One such celebration is the Feast of Francis Xavier, which is marked by a large meal and fair in the former Portuguese colony of Goa.
The Tibetan Lunar New Year also typically occurs in December, and is celebrated in the region of Ladakh in India. This festival is known as Galdan Namchot. It is marked by dances and cultural performances, as well as the tradition of giving scarves to friends and relatives.
Traveling to India in December? Check out these great itineraries.
Highlights of Rajasthan - 21 Days Take advantage of slightly cooler daytime temperatures to experience the beauty of the desert in Rajasthan. This itinerary covers the region’s most impressive highlights.
Kerala Hiking Tour - 12 Days Spanning Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu, this trip is a great chance to experience some of the natural wonders of South India.