Using data from India’s first (1992–93) and third (2005–06) National Family Health Surveys (NFHS-I and NFHS-III) this study examined the fertility differentials between major social groups and the extent to which these varied between states and over time. The analysis was based on a sample of 54,030 and 55,369 currently married women aged 15–34 in the NFHS-I and NFHS-III respectively. Reported parity and desired family size were used to assess variations in fertility behaviour. The results show that interstate variation in childbearing patterns within social groups was at least as high as, if not higher than, variation between states (net of other influences) in both periods, 1992–93 and 2005–06. The variations among Hindus, the poor and Muslims were more noticeable than for other groups. These variations did not decline between 1992–93 and 2005–06 and may have even increased slightly for some groups. Further, there was no consistent north–south divide in either fertility behaviour or desired family size. Together, these results may point to the gradual disappearance of the influences that were once unique to southern or northern India, and the simultaneous emergence of social, political, economic and cultural forces that are pan-Indian in their reach.