The autumn and winter months between October and February are the best time to visit Kolkata, as the weather is perfect and festivities are aplenty. This is the season which witnesses the peak arrival of travellers, especially during Durga Puja. Kolkata, with an eastern tropical climate, has light winters, hot and somewhat humid summers. Summers are the least desirable options for a traveller, and monsoons, although lovely, is not exactly the best season worth a visit.
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Winter is the peak season for travellers and the most advisable as the weather is just perfect for sightseeing. With the mercury dropping between 15°C and 29°C, the days are neither too hot nor too cold. Sometimes the temperature at night may come down as low as 10°C, so it is better to carry light wools with you. The winter breeze is refreshing and cold, and the days are much calmer. Winter is the peak tourist season though, which means that the city gets more crowded during this time. This may not appeal to you if you’re looking for an idyllic holiday – opt to stay in a homestay or resort in the outskirts of the city if you’re in the mood for a tranquil vacation.
The Hindu festival of Diwali is celebrated in November, and this is the second most popular celebration in Kolkata. A stunning firework show is organised at night, and the Howrah Bridge is lit up gloriously. The reflection of the fireworks and the lanterns on the Hooghly River is a sight to behold indeed. Christmas and New Year celebrations are held with pomp and joy in the City of Joy, with gorgeous trees being decorated with nativity lights in most public places. Victoria Memorial and St Paul’s Cathedral, in particular, are spectacularly decked up in colourful lanterns.
Winter is the best time to go on safaris and go for nature walks at Sundarban National Park to spot the Royal Bengal Tiger, the majestic national animal of India. The mangrove forests are breathtakingly beautiful and misty in winter, and the environment is sure to amaze you. You can also hope to see crocodiles, reptiles and birds in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An international book fair is hosted in Kolkata every December, which brings in book lovers from every corner of the globe. The city is a confluence of architecture, art and literature especially in winter, as literature festivals and art exhibitions are held in every nook of Kolkata in these months.
The southwest monsoon brings heavy showers and thunderstorms to Kolkata, with a high precipitation rate. While this season is more favourable for tourists on a budget than summer, it is still difficult to sightseeing due to the heavy rains and the puddled roads. The evenings and nights are pleasing and refreshing, while the mornings and afternoons are rainy. The temperature ranges between 27°C and 35°C, although the humidity is still high. July and August are the wettest months, while September is decidedly more comfy to travel. You can take a walk by the Hooghly River in the evenings and have pleasant outings as well. Take along umbrellas and rainwear to manoeuvre the monsoon.
Get a birds’ eye view of the city from the top of Shaheed Minar, a British tower erected in the nineteenth century. Today it stands as a monument to the martyrs of the freedom movement. Visit the Victoria Memorial and admire the striking architecture. Take a tram ride to go backwards in time and explore the city, vintage style.
With climate bordering on tropical even though the city of Kolkata is close to the temperate zone, the summers are hot and humid. The proximity to the marshy coast and the Hooghly River ensure that Kolkata has high humidity levels in addition to the soaring heat. With temperatures ranging between 29°C and 45°C, the heat is scorching and very unforgiving. The high humidity makes the weather balmy and uncomfortable. Summer is the least advisable time to visit Kolkata as it is quite challenging to go sightseeing. The crowds make transportation unappealing as well. Summer is the off-season time when prices are at their lowest in Kolkata, which may appeal to travellers on a tight budget. If you want to visit Kolkata in the summer, remember to pack light cotton, linens and other breathable fabric so that you can escape the sweat. Opt to travel in the mornings and evenings so you can avoid the hot afternoons. Carry water and umbrellas to beat the heat.
For Sufi lovers, there is nothing better than the Sufi Sutra International Sufi Music Festival. Hosting artists from more than 4 nations this year, it just promises to get bigger and better in its next edition.