Best time to visit Punjab

Best time to visit Punjab


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

The best time to visit the Punjab region is from Feb to March. In low-lying Punjab state itself, temperatures are a perfect 14-20°C now (you’ll also catch the Holi colour festival in the first week of March), but from late March to end of May life heats up, with temperatures averaging 36-38°C. During June, it can hit 44°C! Neighbouring – and higher altitude – Himachal Pradesh is pleasant throughout March, April and May, at 16-20°C. The rainy season runs from late May-Aug. Dec-Feb gets snowfall in Himachal Pradesh, so trips to the Punjab region don’t tend to run then, as there’s a risk of blocked roads and landslides.

Things to do in Punjab


What to do in Punjab, & what not to

Things to do in Punjab...


Watch the evening lowering of the flags ceremony at the Indo-Pakistani Wagah Border, 30km from Amritsar. Soldiers from both countries march in perfect drill, performing rapid dance-style moves, as they take down their respective national flags. Symbol of brotherhood or reminder of old rivalries? Or a bit of both...?

Explore on two feet. Amble through temples and bazaars, hike into the Himalayan foothills from Shimla or stroll alongside the Ganges in Rishikesh – walking is the best way to appreciate Punjab and its neighbouring states. It’s also a welcome antidote to bumpy bus and jeep rides.

Visit the Golden Temple at night. It’s beautifully lit up and reflected in the sacred pool. Less busy, too.

Come prepared for high altitude. Many trips to Punjab take in the foothills of the Himalayas, where temperatures can drop, particularly in November and March (trips don’t tend to venture here in winter). The sun can also be strong at higher altitudes, so bring a hat and sunscreen.

Try some Punjabi culinary specialities. Butter chicken was born here, while veggies can tuck into makki di roti, a flat, unleavened Punjabi bread made from maize flour, often served with sarson da saag, a dish made from mustard greens or spinach and spices. Gulab jamuns are sticky, sweet, deep-friend stealth bombs for your waistline and your teeth, but when in Rome...

Things not to do in Punjab...


Ignore the history of this region. Punjab and its surrounding states have a rich cultural, religious and political history – overlook this and you won’t fully appreciate the region. Read about why Tibetans live in exile in Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj and get to know the history of Shimla and Amritsar. The Raj-era Brits don’t always come out of it well (the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre is particularly shocking), but the past informs the present in this part of India.

Be culturally blasé. Religion and traditional culture is important in Punjab and around, so dress modestly. Bring clothes that cover the arms and wear shorts and skirts that go below the knees. A light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.

Ask for a drink in Rishikesh. This is a sacred town, so no alcohol is permitted.

Expect easy-peasy traveling conditions. Most vacations in the region use a mixture of public buses, private vehicles and trains, with some walking, too. Roads can be bumpy and windy, especially as you head for the Himalayas, and to ensure you see key sights, long train rides are often included to cover more ground. Treat it all as an adventure, with the chance to mingle with local people and see incredible scenery making up for any comfort deficit.

Punjab travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN PUNJAB

Bikash Sharma, from our leading Punjab supplier Intrepid Travel, has an in-depth knowledge of India and offers this advice for traveling in Punjab and around:

Why visit Punjab?


“It’s the combination of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand that is so special. You get a mixture of scenic hills, the Toy Train (biggest highlight!), the Golden Temple and Sikhism, Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries, all in one trip. If you are looking for yoga you have the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’ – Rishikesh. You get to see the Wagah border parade on the India-Pakistan border, too – another highlight. All in all, it’s a great trip.”

Enjoying the food in Punjab


“Punjab is famous for its food. The local dishes are really famous throughout northern India. When you are in Punjab try maize flour bread (makki di roti) and spinach curry (sarso saag), and you should not miss out on lassi (yogurt drink). There are so many local restaurants in Punjab, too. Try ‘Brother Ka Dhaba’ restaurant in Amritsar, for authentic Punjabi food. Be sure to eat food in hygienic places only. The street food in India is very tempting but remember, it may not be good for the health!”

Packing tips


“What you pack depends on the season, because some of the areas are hilly so the temperatures can drop low. It is always good to carry a jumper with you. In Punjab, the weather is very hot during summer so bring light clothes. It is a good idea to carry some dehydration medicine, too. And do not forget to pack a sense of humour!”

Meeting local people


“You can chit-chat with anyone you want, no issues. The people here are welcoming, friendly and very spiritual. You do need to be ready for some cultural shock, though!”

Tips from our travelers in Punjab


ADVICE FROM THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN THERE

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Punjab travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation – and the space inside your suitcase.


“You’ll need a good level of general fitness. Don’t visit India if all you want to do is change it.” – Olivia Neely

“If going in autumn, from October, or winter note that it can get very cold and the hotels have no heating.” – Bela Gor

“Pack light as you do have to carry your bags around and you WILL shop!!” – Rebecca McConnell

“In March, the temperatures are perfect for walking. Take a kettle and teabags, ask about footwear before you set out on a walk – we often found we were in sandals when trainers would have been more suitable – and make sure you use plenty of insect repellent when visiting the Taj Mahal at dawn.” – Linda Godfrey
Photo credits: [Temp chart: FaceMePLS] [Enjoying the food: CCFoodTravel.com] [Meeting local people: Giridhar Appaji Nag Y] [Tip1 : Hari Singh] [Tip2: Bernard Gagnon] [Helpdesk: Ashutosh Baghel]

Written by: Joanna Simmons
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