Should I travel to India in early October or early November?
July 16, 2014 9:55 AM   Subscribe

I am planning a 2-3 week trip to India this fall, and the dates I can go would be either early October or early November (2014). I've been told that October is still pretty hot, and that early November is a bad time to go because of the Pushkar Camel Fair - that many hotels would be sold out, rates will be high, etc. (Also, I'm a travel consultant and would be less likely to get travel industry rates when hotels are full.) It's my first trip to India, so I am thinking that I will be mostly in the North - Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Varanasi, etc... possibly with a few days in Mumbai. Which set of dates would you recommend? Any other factors I should consider?
posted by kdern to Travel & Transportation around India (5 answers total)
I went from October 1st to December 1st.

Early October was the end of the rainy season where I was (Udaipur).

Things will be busy around Pushkar during the Camel Fair, but I had no trouble getting hotel rooms there around October 15th.

Your plan is sound!
posted by chrillsicka at 10:32 AM on July 16, 2014

I was in India last year from end of September to mid October. It was definitely hot, which has made worse by my American style clothing--mostly jeans and cardigans to remain covered up once I was traveling on my own and outside of the conference that brought me there. Invest in some light weight pieces and it will make a huge difference! I traveled from Delhi to Agra and then to Jaipur during that time and really enjoyed it, sweaty clothing included! Have a great time.
posted by icaicaer at 10:36 AM on July 16, 2014

Pushkar is so far away from Delhi or Agra, and especially Varanasi or Mumbai, that accommodations and train tickets in any of those areas are unlikely to be affected by the Camel Fair. You might run into some fair-related traffic traveling in and out of Jaipur, but I think it's unlikely that it would affect your ability to get a hotel room in Jaipur (although it may be trickier the closer you get to Pushkar or Ajmer, if either of those cities is on your itinerary).

(Source: I'm a frequent traveler to India and lived in Jaipur for a few months.)
posted by Austenite at 10:50 AM on July 16, 2014

This doesnt answer your question but I have just gone through enormous angst getting an Indian Visa and so thought I would share in case you need one also. The Indian Consulate has changed providers for Visa services in May 2014, and the process appears to be seriously borked - it is taking a LONG time to get a visa - mine is taking 3 weeks and counting (I will likely not make the travel date that I had foolishly booked and paid for thinking the visa would take 7-10 days as it usually does). And it's not just me - there's some horror stories on Yelp . So - if you're going, and you need a visa, start the process sooner rather than later.
posted by darsh at 3:57 PM on July 16, 2014

I would not avoid an entire country for an entire month just because of a short festival in one town. You could easily visit India in November and just not go to Pushkar at all (or not during certain particular dates), and then it won't matter about hotel rates there during the camel festival.

Travel in India is extremely cheap, and I really wouldn't let nebulous ideas like "unable to get hotel discounts" prevent you from going. I mean, the most expensive hotel room I stayed in was still a fraction of the price of the worst "no tell motel" in the US. I would only worry about this higher rates/unable to get discounts issue if you plan to stay at the finest five star hotels in the country.

I'm fairly sure train tickets are priced on a very specific and stable system that doesn't take into account local festivals happening that weekend, but I could be wrong about that or the Indian train ticketing system could have drastically modernized in the five years since I've used it.

Also, protip: Don't pack jeans for a trip to India.
posted by Sara C. at 6:28 PM on July 16, 2014

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