India is made up of many different climatic zones, so it’s difficult to generalize about the entire subcontinent. However, across most of India, January is a month of moderate temperatures and little rain.
In January, Delhi experiences temperatures of around 68°F during the day, and 46°F at night. The weather may be hazy and foggy on winter mornings around Delhi and the Golden Triangle region (Delhi plus Agra and Jaipur). Mumbai, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu are significantly warmer at this time (highs can reach 85°F).
Crowds & Costs
From October to March, the weather in India is very comfortable for sightseeing. Prices around the country may be somewhat elevated in January, which falls during this period. Keep in mind that tourists from the Southern Hemisphere are enjoying their summer break from school from December to February, which may lead to an increase in crowds. Goa, in particular, is busy this month. It’s wise to book in advance when possible.
Where to Go
January is a good month to visit the south of India. In the state of Tamil Nadu, the monsoon season will have just ended, and you’ll have the chance to experience the harvest festival of Pongal, celebrated by eating a sweet or spicy rice dish of the same name. If you don’t mind the crowds, this is also a good time to visit Kerala: you’ll have good weather, and can see one of the traditional theyyam rituals which are celebrated throughout the winter.
There are also many places further north that are interesting to explore in January. The bustling metropolis of Mumbai is very pleasant to walk around in the moderate winter weather. In addition, it’s a good time to visit the picturesque cities of Rajasthan, including Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Jaisalmer. Bring a jacket, as evenings can get chilly.
For more information, see India’s Main Regions: Where, Why, and When to Go.
What to Do
Although the Himalaya region is quite cold in the winter, the abundant snow creates a scenic winter atmosphere, perfect for skiing and trekking. Some popular ski resorts are Gulmarg in Kashmir and Auli in Uttarakhand, among others.
If you’d prefer a warmer climate, you may want to visit South India instead. If you choose to visit the state of Kerala, on India’s southwest coast, don’t miss out on a tour of the Kerala Backwaters: a scenic network of rivers that are best seen from the deck of a traditional wooden houseboat. Many houseboats depart from the coastal town of Alappuzha.
Events in January
Festivals and holidays abound in India throughout the wintertime, including in January. One special festival to seek out is Rann Utsav in Kutch, Gujarat: a carnival of folk music and dance performances that takes place in a tent city at the edge of the White Rann, a salty marshland in the Thar Desert. The best time to visit is during the full moon, when the moonlight reflected off of the salt marsh is very impressive to see.
Further north, in the Punjab region, January is marked by the Lohri Festival, a colorful occasion dedicated to the Sun God. This harvest celebration usually falls in the middle of the month, and is celebrated by singing and lighting a bonfire.
There’s also one major Indian public holiday which takes place on January 26th: Republic Day. It commemorates the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect in 1950. The main Republic Day celebration is in Delhi, where a ceremonial parade is held—note that some areas are crowded in the morning, and museums and attractions may be closed that day.
Traveling to India in January? Check out these great itineraries.
South India: Wildlife & Local Traditions - 18 Days Take advantage of the slightly cooler temperatures to explore Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This itinerary covers many of South India’s highlights, like the French enclave of Pondicherry, the awe-inspiring Hindu temple in Trichy, and of course, the lush, tropical Kerala Backwaters (a favorite with domestic and international travelers alike).
Kerala Hiking Tour - 12 Days Spanning Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu, this trip offers you the chance to pair cultural highlights (like kathakali dancing in Cochin, and the famous Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai) with hiking and boat travel.