Is December a good time to visit Varanasi? Should you carry a sweater to wear in Varanasi in winters? Well, these are just a few questions that you might have been wondering about when planning your visit to Varanasi. After all, what is the best time to visit Varanasi to experience this popular pilgrimage site in all its glory?
Don’t worry, we understand your confusion which is why I have prepared this guide to help you find the best time to visit Varanasi. As someone who has traveled to Varanasi a couple times since childhood, the most recent one being in 2020, here is my take on when you should visit Varanasi.
Situated on the banks of Ganga River, Varanasi is a major pilgrimage destination for Hindus and Buddhists. One of the oldest cities in the world, Varanasi a.k.a Benaras is also one of the seven sacred cities in India (known as Hindu Teerths) and is also the spiritual capital of India. Home to ashrams, ancient temples, and so on, Benaras is a vibrant and colourful city.
The Ghats, Ganga arti, rituals of life and death, are what Varanasi’s heart is made up of and why so many tourists visit this place every year. From watching a sunrise from a boat to attending the evening Ganga arti, there are a lot of ways to find peace in this city and explore a part of you that has been lost to you.
When is the Best Time to Visit Varanasi?
The best time to visit Varanasi depends on several factors such as whether you are planning a visit for sightseeing or you are looking to attend a festival here. Moreover, your budget also plays a major role in planning your trip to Varanasi from Delhi or other cities..
So, to make it easier for you to decide, we have listed down when you should visit Varanasi for a particular activity or a budget.
Best Time for Sightseeing in Varanasi
Depending on the month you visit, the average temperature in Varanasi can be as low as 10 – 15 degrees Celsius or sometimes as high as 40 – 45 degrees Celsius. And unfortunately, Varanasi experiences a hot and humid climate through most part of the year so, summers is definitely not a great time to visit Varanasi for exploring.
During the monsoon period of July to September, there is a little respite from the heat due to frequent rainfall but the humidity stays the same. So, if you are looking for an ideal time to visit Varanasi for sightseeing, then November to February is the best time to do that. There is less heat and humidity and it can even be a little chilly at times which makes it easier to explore the best places in Varanasi.
Best Time for Budget-Travelers
Let’s face it, not all of us are rich enough to afford private jets or suites in a resort. So, if you are a budget-traveler or a backpacker like me, then choosing the right month to visit Varanasi is crucial unless you wish to end up broke by the end of your trip.
Since November to February is the peak time to visit Varanasi, everything is slightly expensive during this time. The months from July to September are a good time to visit as no pilgrims visit during these months due to the frequent showers and you can easily find good deals at hotels or flights.
Best Time Weather-Wise
One of the most important things to consider when you plan a trip to Varanasi is the weather and how many pilgrims are likely to be there. Both summer and winter months see a lot of pilgrims visiting Varanasi from all over India. But while winter months are cooler and more pleasant for visiting, the summer months are unbearably hot and you won’t be able to go out during the daytime.
However, November to February is also the peak time to visit Varanasi so, all the ghats and temples would be crowded at this time. Moreover, you will have a hard time finding rooms in hotels since most of the accommodations are booked. So, if you wish to enjoy the weather and beat the crowd, then plan a visit in October or March.
Best Time for Festivals
Varanasi is a city of festivals and celebrates them with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. This is why experiencing a festival is one of my favorite things to do in Varanasi to truly immerse in the local culture. But which festival should you visit and when should you visit?
Well, there are several festivals that are celebrated with a lot of exuberance in Varanasi such as Makar Sankranti, Holi, Deepavali, Ganga Mahotsav, Buddha Mahotsav, Maha Shivratri, and so on. There is an important festival celebrated each month in Varanasi. So, your visit to Varanasi for experiencing a festival depends on the festival that you wish to witness here. If it is Holi, then the month of March is perfect to plan a trip here but if it is Ganga Mahotsav or Deepavali, then you need to plan a visit in the month of October/November.
So, make sure you check the calendar for festivals for the year before you plan your trip to Varanasi.
Best Season to Visit Varanasi
Coming to the seasons in Varanasi, there are typically three seasons observed by the city: Summer season, Winter season, and Monsoon season. Here is a little breakdown of the weather and climate conditions in each season so that you can choose which would be the best season to visit Varanasi for you.
Varanasi in Summer Season
Summer in Varanasi begins from March and ends by June, out of which April and May are the hottest months of the season. Similar to most cities in North India, Varanasi experiences a dry, hot and humid climate with temperature rising to as high as 45 degrees Celsius during the daytime. During the night, the temperature comes down to around 30 degrees Celsius which is slightly pleasant, especially if you walk beside the river in the evenings. However, the temperature never falls below 30 degrees during this season.
There are occasional showers that do nothing to ease the heat or the humidity. Summer is undoubtedly the worst time to visit Varanasi as you will have a hard time going outdoors to explore and risk dehydration as well. This is why most people avoid visiting Varanasi in this season and it is termed as the off-season. If you want good deals on hotels and airfare, you can consider this season to visit Varanasi. To combat the heat, relax by the river and enjoy the cool breeze at one of the Ghats.
Varanasi in Monsoon Season
With the onset of monsoon season, Varanasi experiences a slight fall in temperature as the city receives regular showers. The monsoon begins from early July and stays till late September, giving the tourists a chance to enjoy the freshness and beauty of this city. Although, it is still a little hot and humid, it is bearable and is the best season to visit Varanasi for pilgrims and photographers.
The temperature in Varanasi ranges between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius during this season so, you get a little respite from the heat. Moreover, the level of Ganga River raises which makes the Ghats the major point of focus for most tourists. However, be careful as the roads and the steps can become a little slippery during this time.
Varanasi in Winter Season
Winter season commences in Varanasi from October and ends at the end of February and is undoubtedly the best time to visit Varanasi. The temperature during these months range between 5 and 15 degrees Celsius so, you can easily explore around while enjoying the cool climate. You can also see the colourful flower blooms and lush green vegetation during this time which makes a trip to Varanasi even more wonderful.
Apart from that, you also see a lot of migratory birds here during this season, so if you are a bird watcher or a nature lover, then this is a great time to visit Varanasi. You can even attend lots of amazing festivals during these months here.
Monthly Breakdown of Weather in Varanasi
Here is a month-by-month breakdown of what you can expect in Varanasi, in terms of weather and temperature.
January is undoubtedly the best time to visit Varanasi as the temperature ranges between 5 and 15 degrees Celsius. So, the weather is cool and pleasant and perfect for exploring around the city. Moreover, you get a chance to celebrate Makar Sankranti in Varanasi where you can fly kites, taste delicacies, observe the rituals, and so on.
Another good month to visit Varanasi is February as the temperature remains cool under 20 degrees Celsius. Moreover, the tourists start slowly returning back so there is fewer crowds at this time as well. And if you are lucky, then you could even observe Mahashivratri or Rangbhari Ekadashi being celebrated in the city.
From March, the temperature slowly starts to rise in Varanasi and can reach as high as 30 degrees Celsius at times. You can enjoy the boat rides and evening aartis without shivering in cold. During this month, you also get a chance to celebrate festivals such as Holi which is a big affair in this city.
April is the hottest month to visit Varanasi but still sees a lot of pilgrims from all over India. So, if you are trying to explore the city, then this might not be the best month to visit Varanasi as the temperature easily stays above 20 degrees Celsius during this time. However, if you do plan a visit, then you could join Buddha Mahotsav in Varanasi that takes place in April end or May start.
One of the worst times to visit Varanasi, May is incredible hot with temperature rising up to 40 degrees Celsius. You won’t find any tourists here during this month although there will still be pilgrims visiting to take a dip in the holy River Ganga.
If you don’t mind the heat and are looking for lesser tourists around, then this is certainly a good month to consider for Varanasi.
Similar to the month of May, June also experiences extreme heat and humidity and is not a great time to visit Varanasi. But you would get good deals at hotels since this is the off-season to visit Varanasi. Moreover, you can attend Ganga Dussehra that usually takes place in either June or July.
July is the beginning of the monsoon season and the average temperature drops down to around 30 degrees Celsius it is still quite humid. You can easily get cheap deals on hotels or airfare at this time but be careful. All the roads and ghats become slippery and the level of Ganga increases too so, you might accidentally slip and hurt yourself.
August is the peak monsoon season in Varanasi so, you can expect heavy rainfall in this month. The temperature remains the same as July but there are more chances of slipping on the roads and ghats. If you like to visit Varanasi in its true nature, then this would be a good time to visit. You will easily get amazing discounts and deals on hotels and airfare.
This is officially the last month of monsoon so, you will have to endure heavy rainfall in this month as well. But the temperature drops down a little and you can still get good deals on hotels and flights. Morevoer, if you plan a visit during this month, then you might be lucky to witness Dussehra celebration in this city.
Finally, with October, the winter season begins in Varanasi so, you can enjoy pleasantly cool climate for the next 3-4 months. Since this is the transition period, there aren’t a lot of tourists in the city so, you can still get hotels at affordable rates. And most importantly, this is the month of festivals in Varanasi with so many festivals to celebrate here such as Ganga Mahotsav, Chhat Puja, Diwali, Annakut, and so on.
Another great month to visit Varanasi is November when you can experience a pleasant climate here. This is the best time for sightseeing and exploring the numerous attractions in the city. The temperature ranges between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius so, you can truly enjoy your stay during this month.
However, book your hotels and flights in advance as this is the peak month to visit Varanasi.
December is another peak month to visit Varanasi but is the perfect time for exploring around the city. As the temperature remains under 20 degrees Celsius, you can explore the streets and Ghats of Varanasi without any worries. But make sure, you reserve your hotels and flights beforehand as everything gets booked during this month due to the tourists visiting the city from all over the world.
The temperature, festivals, prices of the stay, and so on keep on varying in Varanasi depending on the month that you visit. As a result, it can become a little confusing to decide when would be the best time to visit Varanasi. But with the help of this guide, I am sure you will be able to plan your trip in the right month to explore this wonderful destination.
If you wish to explore the streets and Ghats of Varanasi without getting dehydrated or burned by the heat, then the months from October to March would be best. But if you wish to escape the crowd and want to observe Varanasi in all its glory, then the monsoon season is a great time to enjoy a weekend trip to Varanasi.
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