The agriculture sector is vulnerable to climate change and related changes in the hydrological cycle. In order to understand the changes in climatic variables and their implications for agricultural water consumption, the present study aims to analyse the temporal variability of climatic factors and water footprint (WF) of rice and wheat during the period 1986–2017 in Ludhiana, Punjab. Further, it aims to identify the dominant climatic factors that cause variation in reference evapotranspiration (ETo) and WF of rice and wheat. WF was estimated using CROPWAT, and Path analysis was used to determine the dominant climate variables. Temporal trends of climate variables were analysed using the Mann–Kendall test. The total WF of both rice and wheat shows a significant declining trend over the past 32 years. Sunshine duration and wind speed were the dominant factors influencing the variability of total WF of rice and wheat, respectively, whereas rainfall strongly influenced the green and blue WF of rice and wheat. Rainfall had a high variability, and consequently, irrigation water requirement was highly fluctuating. This indicates the significant impact of present and projected erratic pattern of precipitation on agriculture due to climate change and reiterates the importance of adaptive measures like rainwater harvesting and capacity building.