A synergy of satellite and ground-based radiometric observations, along with chemical transport modeling, was used for the assessment of the influence of drought monsoon conditions of 2002 and prolonged dry pre-monsoon period of 2003 on aerosol properties over south Asia, with emphasis over northern India. Reanalysis data are also examined for studying the dry anomalous period from the climatological mean, that show prevalence of westerlies under anticyclonic circulation and subsidence favoring the accumulation of aerosols. TRMM observations over south Asia indicate significant rainfall deficit over northwestern India in July 2002 and May–June 2003. Subsequently, the anomalous and prolonged dry conditions favored heavy aerosol buildup as indicated by strong positive anomalies (20–80%) of MODIS aerosol optical depth (AOD) as well as significant increase in TOMS aerosol index (AI) during July 2002 and May–June 2003 compared to the long-term monthly means. The largest increase in aerosol loading is observed over northern India, encompassing the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) that is in the downwind region of dust outflow from the Thar Desert and long-range transport from Arabia and Middle East. Ground-based sunphotometer observations at Delhi and Kanpur also show enhanced presence of desert-dust aerosols during July 2002 and May–June 2003, characterized by large AOD and significantly low Angstrom Exponent. In addition, modifications in columnar aerosol size distribution toward larger coarse-mode fraction and higher single scattering albedo at longer wavelengths were observed, thus supporting the observation of enhanced dust influx. SPRINTARS model simulations also show the enhanced dust loading over northern India during the studied months, which is in general agreement with the satellite and ground-based observations.