In Mumbai, hundreds trekked up to the Nehru planetarium clutching eclipse sunglasses only to find themselves reaching for umbrellas as heavy overnight rain turned torrential.
"We didn't want to watch it on television and we thought this would be the best place," said 19-year-old student Dwayne Fernandes.
But many stayed at home, fearful of the effects of the lunar shadow which some believe can cause birth defects.
"I was advised not to leave the house as the eclipse brings bad luck to you and your family," said Deepa Shrestha, a 25-year-old housemaid in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Superstition has always haunted the moment when Earth, moon and sun are perfectly aligned. The daytime extinction of the sun, the source of all life, is associated with war, famine, flood and the death or birth of rulers.
Some Indian astrologers had issued predictions laden with gloom; and a gynecologist at a Delhi hospital said many expectant mothers rescheduled July 22 caesarian deliveries.
But it was also a day for science, with an Indian air force AN-32 transporter taking a team of equipment-laden astrophysicists on an eclipse-chasing flight, accompanied by a Mirage-2000 fighter jet, which photographed the event.