Friday, 15 March 2013

The Best Time of Year to Visit South India

Mt. Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai, South India
Several friends from the U.S. have recently asked me about the best time of year to visit South India. As things are beginning to heat up here in Tamil Nadu as summer approaches, I have suggested that they delay their trip until October when the temperature becomes more 'winter-like' with temperatures in the mid-80's Fahrenheit or around 28 degrees Celsius.  Summer temperatures can reach well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more than 38 degrees Celsius.

The weather in India can be divided into three main seasons- winter, summer and the monsoons. The majority of westerners visiting Tiruvannamalai arrive during the winter months beginning in October and lasting until mid-to-late March. Right now, we are beginning to see an exodus of friends who have spent the winter here and are packing up to leave as summer sets in.

Although I work in an office in Chennai that has AC (air conditioning), the heat in the city can be quite relentless during the summer. We have moved into a new office in Mylapore as of last September, which has a back-up generator. When the power cuts take effect during the work day, there is a brief 'burp' as the lights and AC shift from the government supplied power to the generator downstairs. Our previous office space did not have backup power that lasted longer than about an hour. We were sent home on many occasions due to lack of power and stifling heat in the office. This summer should be much better, I hope!

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, South India

At home in Tiruvannamalai, we have added solar panels to the roof and now have no interruption of power during the day. The panels will keep the fans, lights and computers on during power cuts but not the AC until we switch to an AC that runs on solar power...(next year's investment!) Since the rural area where we live can sometimes have power cuts of up to twelve hours at a go, this is a huge improvement and feels somewhat luxurious since our fans stay on even when the government power is off. Simple pleasures...

For further information on the best time of year to visit India, I suggest reading an article on Climate and Weather in India by Sherrell Cook at http://goindia.about.com/od/planningyourtrip/a/indiaweather.htm. There are also numerous links such as the Indian Meteorological Department and a fun group of weather bloggers at KEA Weather Blog.

Bullock carts decorated for Pongal festival, Tamil Nadu, South India