In Delhi and its surrounding areas, May is extremely hot and dry, with average highs reaching 105°F. Conditions are similar in Rajasthan, which has a desert-like climate. Further south, Chennai is also subject to heat of up to 100°F at this time of year, with little rain.
The situation in Mumbai and Goa is slightly better. These places are warm and muggy year-round, and experience highs of 93°F and lows of 79°F in May.
In some parts of India, May is a wet month leading up to the monsoon. Kolkata experiences an average of seven rainy days during this month, while in Kerala, it rains for up to 11 days.
The Himalayas have some of the best weather in India in May. At high altitude, temperatures reach about 80°F during the day, dropping to 50°F at night. The foothills, however, can be quite hot at this time.
Crowds & Costs
In May, most of India is too hot to attract crowds of foreign tourists. However, at this point, summer vacation is in full swing for domestic tourists. Many Indians head up to the country’s hill stations to cool off; if you plan to stay in a popular mountain resort town, it’s a good idea to make arrangements in advance.
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Where to Go
To beat the heat in May, many travelers head to the Himalayas. Evenings can still get cold at this time, so pack a sweater. The Himalayas cover a large region, spanning many different Indian states—where you choose to go might depend on many factors, including which roads and mountain passes are accessible, and which sites you’d most like to see.
Tucked in between Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, Sikkim is a good choice for this time of year. Scenic Darjeeling is at its best, with pleasant temperatures and ample things to do. You could also visit hill stations in Himachal Pradesh, such as Manali.
If you’re looking for something a little different, you could check out one of the hill stations in southern India instead. One such station is Ooty. Located in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu, it offers lush, green mountain scenery.
What to Do
If you end up visiting the Himalayas, May is a great time to enjoy some outdoor sports. The popular resort towns offer a variety of options, such as water rafting and mountain biking. If you go to Darjeeling, note that the town is famous for its tea plantations; you can tour these and purchase tea directly from the source. May is also a good month to go hiking in any of India’s mountain ranges, as the weather is mild and flowers are in bloom.
Events in May
India is a land of non-stop festivals. Many events take place each month, and May is no exception.
Elephant lovers may be interested in Thrissur Pooram, one of the largest temple festivals in Kerala. This impressive festival is celebrated with a fireworks display and a parade featuring dozens of colorfully-dressed elephants.
If you decide to visit Ooty in May, you may have the opportunity to attend the town’s Summer Festival. The festival is several weeks long and is composed of a variety of events, including music, dancing, and fruit and flower shows.
There is also an important Buddhist holiday around this time of year. Buddha Jayanti, or the Buddha’s birthday, is celebrated according to the lunar calendar and often falls in May. The festival is celebrated with prayer meetings and sermons at several Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India.
Traveling to India in May? Check out these great itineraries.
Highlights of Buddhist India - 7 Days With this itinerary, you can visit several of the most important Buddhist holy places in northwestern India.
Kerala Hiking Tour - 12 Days Cool off and breath in the fresh mountain air with this hiking itinerary. On the tour, you’ll visit the hill stations of the Western Ghats, plus several of South India’s most interesting cultural attractions.