The Best Time To Visit Uttarakhand: Weather, Crowds, and Events
Uttarakhand, the northern state of India, is a land of breathtaking beauty, serene spirituality, and an abundance of adventure opportunities. From the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas to the lush green valleys, Uttarakhand offers something for every kind of traveler. However, when it comes to planning a trip to Uttarakhand, the question that often arises is, when is the best time to visit Uttarakhand?
To answer that question, let’s take a closer look at Uttarakhand’s weather, crowds, and events throughout the year.
The weather in Uttarakhand varies significantly based on the altitude and the season. The state has three distinct seasons – summer, monsoon, and winter.
- Summer (April to June)
Summer in Uttarakhand is a magical time when the state comes alive with lush greenery, blooming flowers, and various outdoor activities. The season begins in April and lasts until June, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 30°C. The weather in Uttarakhand during summer is pleasant and comfortable, making it the perfect time to explore the outdoors. The days are warm while the nights are cooler, with temperatures dropping to around 15°C. The higher altitude regions like Nainital and Mussoorie may experience slightly cooler temperatures, making it a perfect escape from the heat and humidity of the plains.
Summer is the perfect time to indulge in adventure sports like trekking, camping, and river rafting. Uttarakhand has several beautiful trekking routes, including the Valley of Flowers Trek, Roopkund Trek, and Kedarkantha Trek. Camping is another popular activity in Uttarakhand during the summer season. From the banks of the Ganges to the hills of Mussoorie, there are several camping sites that offer a peaceful retreat amidst nature. River rafting is another adventure sport that attracts tourists to Uttarakhand during summer.
Summer is also the perfect time to explore the popular tourist destinations in Uttarakhand. The hill stations of Nainital, Mussoorie, and Ranikhet offer a cool escape from the heat of the plains. The Jim Corbett National Park, located in the foothills of the Himalayas, is another popular tourist destination that attracts wildlife enthusiasts during summer.
- Monsoon (July to September)
Monsoon in Uttarakhand starts in July and lasts until September, bringing with it heavy rainfall and lush greenery. The season transforms Uttarakhand into a green paradise, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers. The monsoon season in Uttarakhand is characterized by heavy rainfall, with an average of 900 mm of rainfall in July and August. The temperature during the season ranges from 15°C to 25°C, providing relief from the scorching heat of the summer season. The higher altitude regions like Mussoorie and Nainital experience slightly cooler temperatures, making it an ideal destination to escape the humidity of the plains.
Monsoon in Uttarakhand can also make travel challenging due to landslides and roadblocks. The hilly terrain of Uttarakhand makes it prone to landslides during heavy rainfall. The roads connecting different parts of the state can get blocked due to landslides, making travel difficult. Therefore, it is important to plan your travel itinerary accordingly and keep a buffer day in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
The forests of Rajaji National Park and Jim Corbett National Park are in full bloom during the monsoon season, making it an ideal time for wildlife enthusiasts to visit. It is also a good time for trekking and camping. The treks to Har ki Dun, Dayara Bugyal, and Kedarnath offer breathtaking views of the valleys and the snow-capped peaks. The camping sites in Chopta, Kanatal, and Dhanaulti offer a peaceful retreat amidst nature.
Uttarakhand is also known for its spiritual tourism, and monsoon is the perfect time to visit the state’s numerous pilgrimage sites. The Char Dham Yatra, which includes visits to Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath, is considered to be one of the most significant pilgrimages for Hindus. The Hemkund Sahib, located in the Himalayas, is another popular pilgrimage site that attracts thousands of visitors during the monsoon season.
- Winter (October to March)
Winter in Uttarakhand starts in October and lasts until March, bringing with it chilly weather and occasional snowfall in higher altitudes. The season offers a different experience altogether from the other seasons in Uttarakhand, making it a popular destination for adventure enthusiasts and winter sports lovers. Winter in Uttarakhand is characterized by chilly weather, with temperatures ranging from 0°C to 15°C in the lower altitudes. The higher altitudes like Auli, Munsiyari, and Joshimath receive heavy snowfall, making it an ideal destination for winter sports enthusiasts. The snow-covered peaks, valleys, and forests offer breathtaking views.
Winter in Uttarakhand is a perfect time for winter sports, with skiing and snowboarding being the most popular activities. The ski resorts in Auli, located at an altitude of 2,800 meters above sea level, offer some of the best skiing experiences in India. The slopes of Auli are covered with snow from December to March, making it an ideal destination for skiing enthusiasts. Other popular skiing destinations in Uttarakhand include Munsiyari, Dayara Bugyal, and Mundali.
The crowd in Uttarakhand varies significantly based on the season. Let’s take a look at the tourist footfall in Uttarakhand throughout the year.
- Summer (April to June)
Summer in Uttarakhand is the busiest time of the year, with a huge influx of tourists from across the country and the world. The hill stations like Mussoorie, Nainital, and Ranikhet see a surge in visitors during this time, with hotels and resorts running at full capacity. The popular tourist destinations like Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Dehradun are also crowded with tourists during the summer season.
The heavy influx of tourists during summer can significantly impact travel in Uttarakhand. The roads leading to popular tourist destinations can be congested, leading to traffic jams and delays. The popular trekking routes and camping sites can be crowded, making it difficult to find a spot. The accommodations, especially the budget options, can be fully booked, making it challenging to find a place to stay. Hence it’s advisable to book your accommodation and activities in advance.
- Monsoon (July to September)
Monsoon is considered to be the off-season for tourism in Uttarakhand. While some tourists avoid visiting the state during this time due to the heavy rains and landslides, others prefer to explore the state’s lush green landscapes and enjoy the monsoon showers. The hill stations like Mussoorie, Nainital, and Ranikhet see a significant drop in visitors during this time, and the popular tourist destinations like Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Dehradun are less crowded than in the summer season.
The monsoon season in Uttarakhand can have a significant impact on travel. The heavy rains can lead to landslides and road closures, making it challenging to reach some of the popular tourist destinations. The trekking routes and camping sites can also be affected, and some of them may be closed for safety reasons. The accommodations and activities can be limited during this time, with many hotels and restaurants shutting down due to the lack of tourists.
- Winter (October to March)
Winter is considered to be the peak tourist season in Uttarakhand. The state’s snow-capped mountains, beautiful valleys, and adventure activities attract thousands of tourists from across the country and the world. The hill stations like Mussoorie, Nainital, and Auli see a significant surge in visitors during this time, and the popular tourist destinations like Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Dehradun are also crowded.
The winter season in Uttarakhand can have a significant impact on travel. The heavy snowfall can lead to road closures, making it challenging to reach some of the popular tourist destinations. The trekking routes and camping sites can also be affected, and some of them may be closed for safety reasons. The accommodations and activities can be expensive and booked out quickly, so it’s important to plan your trip well in advance.
Uttarakhand is a land of festivals, and there are several events that take place throughout the year. Let’s take a look at some of the popular events in Uttarakhand.
- Uttarayani Mela
Uttarayani Mela is one of the most significant cultural events in Uttarakhand, celebrated every year in the month of January. The festival is celebrated in various parts of the state, including Bageshwar, Nainital, and Pithoragarh. The Uttarayani Mela is a blend of religious and cultural activities, attracting thousands of devotees and tourists from all over the world. The festival is celebrated to mark the beginning of the harvest season and to pay homage to the ancestors.
The mela is known for its vibrant colors, lively music, and cultural performances, including the Kumaoni and Garhwali folk dance, local handicrafts, and cuisines. The festival also hosts a variety of adventure activities, including rock climbing, rappelling, and trekking. One of the most significant highlights of the Uttarayani Mela is the Ganga snan or holy dip in the river Ganges, which is considered to be very auspicious. The mela also features a variety of stalls selling local handicrafts, including pottery, textiles, and wooden carvings.
- Ganga Dussehra
Ganga Dussehra is a popular Hindu festival celebrated in India, particularly in Uttarakhand. The festival is celebrated on the tenth day of the Hindu month Jyeshta, which usually falls in May or June. The festival holds significant religious importance as it is believed that on this day, the goddess Ganga descended on earth from heaven. It is also believed that taking a dip in the Ganges on this day washes away all sins and brings purity and peace to the mind, body, and soul. The festival is celebrated over ten days, with various rituals and offerings performed on each day. The festival culminates on the tenth day, when devotees take a dip in the Ganges, offer prayers to the goddess, and perform various rituals.
The festival also holds significance for the locals as it marks the beginning of the Char Dham Yatra, a pilgrimage to the four holy shrines in Uttarakhand – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. Ganga Dussehra is an important festival for the people of Uttarakhand, and it provides an excellent opportunity for tourists to witness the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the state. s
- Kumbh Mela
Kumbh Mela is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world and is held every 12 years in four different locations in India, including Haridwar in Uttarakhand. The festival is a celebration of faith and is attended by millions of devotees, sadhus, and tourists from all over the world.
The festival is believed to have originated in ancient Hindu mythology, where it is said that drops of nectar fell from the kumbh or pot during a fight between the gods and demons. The Kumbh Mela is celebrated to commemorate this event, and it is believed that taking a dip in the holy river during the festival washes away all sins and brings good fortune.
The Kumbh Mela is a spectacular sight, with millions of devotees taking a dip in the Ganges and offering prayers to the gods. The festival is also known for its colorful processions, cultural events, and spiritual discourses by various saints and gurus. The Kumbh Mela attracts a massive crowd, and the preparations for the festival start months in advance. The local government and the administration work together to ensure the safety and security of the devotees and provide basic facilities like water, food, and shelter.
- Bikhauti Mela
Bikhauti Mela is a popular festival celebrated in the Kumaon region. The festival is held in the month of Chaitra, which usually falls in March or April. The festival is dedicated to the goddess Bikhauti and is celebrated with great gusto and zeal. The festival is believed to have originated in ancient Hindu mythology when the goddess Bikhauti defeated the demon Karkotak and restored peace to the region. It is believed that offering prayers to the goddess during the festival brings good fortune and prosperity.
Bikhauti Mela is celebrated with great pomp and show, with various cultural events, fairs, and processions organized during the festival. The festival is also known for its traditional dance forms, including the popular Chholiya dance, which is performed by men wearing colorful traditional attire.
- Kumaon Winter Carnival
Kumaon Winter Carnival is an annual event held in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand celebrated in the month of December. The Kumaon Winter Carnival is a week-long festival, with various cultural events, fairs, and processions organized during the festival. The festival is also known for its traditional dance forms, including the popular Jhora dance, which is performed by men and women wearing colorful costumes.
The festival is a major attraction for tourists visiting Uttarakhand during the winter season. The festival is also a great opportunity to experience the local cuisine of the region, which is a major highlight of the festival.
The best time to visit Uttarakhand depends on your interests and preferences. If you are looking for pleasant weather and outdoor activities, the summer months of April to June are ideal. If you are a nature lover and don’t mind the occasional rain, the monsoon season from July to September is perfect. If you are a snow lover or interested in winter sports, the winter months of October to March are ideal. However, it’s important to keep in mind the crowd and events in Uttarakhand during the different seasons to make the most of your trip. Plan your trip accordingly and get ready to experience the beauty, spirituality, and adventure of Uttarakhand.