Summer in North India is hot. Temperatures can go up to nearly 45 degree C or 113 degree F and visiting North India in this season is not high on the most travelers’ agendas. Despite the heat, summer in India is a vibrant time and can be enjoyed if certain guidelines are followed. Here are a few tips on what to do in order to survive the heat and make the most of your trip.
Stick to light weight cotton clothing. Fabrics like linen work best as they allow the body to breathe along with the fact that they are good absorbents. This helps when one is sweating, and sweat you will, be absolutely sure of that! If you plan to travel light there is a huge variety of cotton clothing available in India itself which is affordable and easy to maintain. The best places for buying such clothes is the handloom shops and the haat bazaars and every city in India has more than its fair share of these. Examples of such markets are Dilli Haat and Janpath in New Delhi. Along with the fabric, it is a good idea to stick to light colors preferably whites and pastels. You might have to wash them more often but once there you will realize that it is well worth the hassle.
When it comes to footwear, it is best to wear something more open ended like flat sandals or floater sandals as opposed to shoes. While on the one hand, shoes might be more comfortable when walking long distances, wearing a pair of sandals will mean that you will sweat a lot less on your feet. Shoes tend to trap heat and with socks the problem is actually aggravated. Like clothing, there are a number of economical footwear options available in India for summer. Most of these are budget-friendly and even if they only last you through your trip you will realize that eventually it was money well-spent. Some popular options include, ‘Kolhapuri chappals’ for both men and women, as well as ‘Jootis’ which are traditionally from the state of Punjab but available all over India. In addition to these you will find various modern styles to choose from.
North Indian summer can be highly dehydrating and it is absolutely important that you keep your fluid intake high. While water tops the list of beverages that you should be consuming, do enjoy the flavor of the country by trying come local delicacies like ‘Nimbu paani’ ( sweet and sour lime water) and ‘Lassi’ (flavored buttermilk). Be careful of where you choose to have these from as variations are available all over- from five star restaurants to the roadside local vendor. It would be a good idea to go for a clean, sanitized environment and give the roadside vendor a miss! If you end up in the state of Punjab, you can also try ‘Ganne ka Ras’ which is basically sugar-cane juice as well as ‘Chaach'( a thicker, creamier version of the flavored buttermilk). Drink as much as you can to keep your body temperature cool and to avoid dehydration.
By all means, eat what you want- but also make sure that your diet includes a lot of citrus as well as seasonal fruits. Fruits such as Watermelon and Rock melon should find a place on your daily platter as these help the body to stay cool internally. India has a wide variety of seasonal fruits in summer and ‘Litchi’ also known as ‘Lychee’ is one of them. This belongs to the soapberry family and is made up of delicate soft whitish flesh. A big summer favorite among the locals, make sure you try this as the benefits are many when it comes to taste, nutrition as well as fighting the heat battle. It is important to buy and consume fruit that is either whole or covered if cut in order to avoid any stomach problems.
Finally, keep your head covered to avoid any heat strokes. Shielding one’s head is a common practice even amongst the locals and there are various methods that one can employ. You can use an umbrella but that can turn out to be an obstruction to free movement. A cap or hat is another alternative. One of the best methods is to use a ‘duppatta’. A ‘duppatta’ is a rectangular piece of fabric that is usually 4 ft by 2 ft in size. Available in a multitude of colors and fabrics it can be used by women to wrap around the neck and then lift an end from the nape to cover the head. For men, it can be tied around the head like a ‘saafa’ or a ‘pagdi’. These words may seem alien while reading but are very commonly used in the country and help can be easily sought in order to learn the correct methods of draping.
With the help of these guidelines, a summer trip to North India is very much a reality for any traveler and can be a very enriching experience as well.