Having finished on the podium at the last two grands prix, Grosjean is set to start 17th at Buddh.
He stuck to the medium compound Pirellis in Q1, whereas everyone else bar Sebastian Vettel used softs.
While Vettel still made it through in 11th place, Grosjean's 1m26.577s was four tenths shy of what proved to be the Q2 cut-off.
The Frenchman said he did the time Lotus had anticipated on mediums, but that his rivals' pace had been a shock.
"We planned a cut-off time before qualifying and all the cars ran quicker than we expected," said Grosjean.
"We are more or less where we wanted to be [on laptime], but it seems it was much more tight and the option tyre performed better than this morning."
Grosjean said he and Lotus were equally to blame for the unsuccessful strategy.
"I made the decision as well, it is not right to blame the team or myself," he said.
"We just missed it for some reason. We will look at why. Sometimes it happens."