Rajisthan in the Wet season - to be avoided?
November 5, 2007 3:01 PM   Subscribe

Should I avoid traveling in NW India during the monsoon?

Planning a round-the-world trip; the only time I can go is summertime. The say it won't be so hot in India once the rains begin, but I'm wondering if it's rather pointless to spend much time there during the rainy season. Will I be able to appreciate sights like Jodphur and Jaisalmer in July, when it's allegedly raining buckets, and muddy? Or should I skip it and wait until I can return and spend more time there, in the optimal dry season?

I'm currently planing to fly into Delhi and out of Bombay, using the trains to travel between and to the places mentioned above -- any other related tourist tips are appreciated.
posted by Rash to Travel & Transportation around India (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, avoid it if possible.

Reasons, among many: conjunctivitis, hepatitis A, dengue fever are common in the monsoon time. Mosquitoes breed (dengue - and malaria too), bacteria festers (conjunctivitis) and drinking water or anything touched by water that may get into one's mouth (salad vegetables, vegetables cooked without iodine -and forget eating fish at that time), can be contaminated with human feces (hep) that may be washed by the rain into streams, rivers, wells, onto farm produce

Lived a decade in India. It's even hotter in the monsoon than before because the air is so humid one's perspiration doesn't evaporate.

Dry, cooler season best -between mid October and March.
posted by nickyskye at 4:49 PM on November 5, 2007

Avoid it, unless it's the only way. I traveled in India in the summer (June to August, what was I thinkin?!) and I really wished I'd waited a few months to take my trip. It was miserably hot (like, 115 degrees, with 90% humidity) in Delhi. I couldn't do any trekking in the lower Himalaya. A train trip that should have taken 8 hours took 22 because the rails got flooded. I got Hep A.

But. On the Other Hand. You should go to India in your life. And if this is the time, then it's the time.
posted by lunasol at 6:24 PM on November 5, 2007

No. Go. Rajasthan in July/August is lovely. It's hot, yes. But India is hot in the summer, period. If that's when you're going, so be it.

Mosquito-borne illnesses are avoidable with long sleeves (India is the land of affordable silk), bed nets, mosquito repellent, and tetracyclene.

Conjuntivitis is also known as pink eye and I don't know anyone in North America who hasn't contracted it here. Several times, if we're honest. Wash your hands regularly with soap, bring a prescription for conjunctivitis (cheap here, and cheeeeeap there), or if you're really concerned carry around those little squeezy things of hand sanitizer, and you'll be fine.

And there's a vaccine for Hep A. Three cheers for immunization.

However, let me make another suggestion. Ladakh. You fly there from Delhi. Flight is affordable and WORTH IT. High altitude desert. Like summer in Canada. Amazing people. Buddhist. Safe. Lovely. Interesting. Trekking. Few(er) tourists. Monasteries. Different scene than Rajasthan, sure. But awesome, and completely handle-able in terms of weather. No monsoon. They get 4 inches of rain per year. Chilly at night. Fantastic stars.

Or: Nepal. Also cheap to fly from Delhi. Different monsoon. Higher altitude, therefore not as roasting. Go to Annapurna. If you can afford it, go to Mustang. Latter is similar to Ladakh in landscape. Other-worldly.

Don't let the monsoon scare you. All the Bollywood films have the giant celebration dances when the monsoon breaks for a reason: it's a relief, the humidity decreases. And it doesn't rain all day. Just a lot of the day. Go out in the dry bits (mid-morning), bring an umbrella for the wet bits, and stay in in the afternoons and nap. Prepare for rain (no leather loafers!) and you'll be fine. Be a grumpy gus about the rain and you'll be rewarded in kind.

Me, lived in India 18 months, lived in the Philippines twice, Thailand last year... have lived through many monsoons, and have been back to India since. I don't have the decade that nickyskye has, but I'll say that if you haven't been to India, don't miss it just for a bit of rain and a promise that you'll "come back someday". You could be hit by a bus tomorrow. Seize the day.
posted by Mrs Hilksom at 6:43 PM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

The problem with Ladakh during the monsoon season isn't Ladakh, it's getting there. Often it's rainy on the wet side of the Himalaya, so if you're driving it can often be quite slow and frustrating.

I love Ladakh and Nepal, but if you're looking for something a little closer to Delhi, I'd definitely endorese western India. It's a desert in Rajastan, definitely it won't be humid. Oh, and top tip - Udaipur and under-rated Bhuj are absolutely hands-down the wickedest.
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:34 PM on November 5, 2007

Humidity does not decrease during the monsoon time, it soars. It's sweltering. Pre-monsoon the heat is intense, dry, humidity is about 20 to 50%. The rains come and the temperature drops about 10 to 15 degrees, which can be lifesaving to people without any air conditioning or electricity, so the monsoon is celebrated, in part for that alone. But the rain makes being out of air conditioning, like sight seeing, way less comfortable.

If one has been living in India for a while one can become gradually used to the intense heat and handle standing still while sweat is trickling down in little rivulets but to arrive, bam, in the middle of the Rajasthani monsoon swelter would likely jeopardize your health. Dry heat can cause heat strokes but the heaviness of the high humidity can be exhausting.

I've never had pink eye anywhere but saw countless people in India with it during the monsoon, it's not fun. All kinds of dystentery are also much more common in the monsoon months. I've traveled extensively in Rajasthan and do not recommend arriving there in the monsoon.

A quick Google turns up: Deadly floods in Rajasthan turn desert area into "sea", monsoon floods throughout the nation (possibly making traveling to and from Rajasthan difficult in the monsoon), UNICEF on the monsoon in India.
posted by nickyskye at 9:46 PM on November 5, 2007

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