Climate in Delhi: how it feels for someone from a cold country?

The climate in Delhi is very peculiar.

The hottest months here are from April to June – they are considered to be a summer, unlike on the west, where the summer is in June – August. At this time temperature in the city reaches +42-47 degrees (Celsius). Schoolchildren and college students also have their vacation in this time and not like we are used to have it in our summers, again. Though in different states of India and even in different schools the holidays do happen on different dates.

During the whole July, August and usually  the first decade of September in Delhi lasts the rainy season, and it becomes not that hot, around +32-38. However, it does not rain in Delhi every day during rainy season, unlike in Mumbai, for example (I have been there in 2012 during rainy season). After rainy season, however, the heat comes back for some time, although it’s already not that crazily hot like in April-May.

From about middle of November to early December and until the middle of February in Delhi lasts the season of winter. Local winters are not similar every year: out of my 4 winters in Delhi only one of them was actually very warm, but one (2019-2020) was very cold as well. Delhi winters usually have a temperature of +15-22 degrees during the day, but at night it can reach +4-5. But due to the lack of central heating in buildings it feels much colder.

In the remaining months in Delhi, there is something like an off season, +27-35 degrees. There is no clear division of seasons by dates in India, Indians do consider the season change when the weather actually changes, not from some certain date.

The climate of Delhi works well for agriculture – the fruits and vegetables grow here during the whole year (that’s why Indians were able to be vegetarians historically too, not just in modern times, unlike people on the west who didn’t have fruits & vegetables in winters). But the same climate works for mosquitoes and other insects around most of the year as well: there is no mosquitoes only in the coldest and hottest months.

Because of the 9-month hot summers, people of Delhi love and wait for the winters a lot. However, in the cities of just 300-600 km away to the north from Delhi is colder, in winters there it can even snow – because of the mountainous climate. One of such cities is Shimla – I have visited it during Diwali 2019. In Delhi it is never snowing.

The winter season is more attractive and popular for tourists visiting Delhi, because in +45 degrees Celsius heat it’s difficult to visit sights, but tickets to come here are more expensive usually in winters as well + no heating in buildings can be unusual for westerner.

According to me good months for tourism in Delhi are also November and March: it is not not cold and not too hot, plus the biggest Indian Festivals do happen in this time: Diwali in November and Holi in March.

When you are from the cold country, living in Delhi climate can feel very unusual. Yes, of course, it does feel crazily hot in summers but locals also complain about it a lot (or why the stereotype “You are from Russia, why you feel cold?” in winters doesn’t work for people from the hot countries…”You are from India, why you feel hot?”, ha-ha…).

But that’s not the only thing. When you are from the cold country, in September your mind expects the beginning of autumn already and the things connected to it: yellow leaves, colder weather, sweaters and hot drinks. But in real you are in Delhi and you start feeling like heat will never end (especially when you see your friends from home posting autumn photographs). It can may you sort of nostalgic about the “golden autumn” of your home and snowy winter following it. Delhi winter will remind you your usual autumn more, but it won’t be that golden for sure. Before you used to consider summers as fun, “beach season”, and were waiting for it – well, living in Delhi, you start waiting for winters, just like locals do. This makes you way more happy to wear your sweaters and you understand, why locals find them “cool” and fashionable”.

In winters in Delhi you don’t expect the buildings to be cold from the inside because you are used to the central gas heating, but they are – often colder than outside. And instead you will have to use a heater that will heat just one room and burn a lot of electricity (same like air conditioner in all other seasons – electricity bills in Delhi weather turn out to be quite much more than in Russia, especially for big families and offices).

You also start being much more afraid of mosquitoes because you don’t have malaria and dengue mosquitoes in your cold country. Even though there is the cure for it in India.

You almost forget the feeling of cold rains, walking under rain or just sitting at home in blanket looking at the window with hot beverage – because in Delhi there is bars on almost every window and most of the rains happen in summers. You see locals waiting for the rains and rainy season all the time (and you also start feeling so!) because they know it will chill the weather but you will be amused that most of these people don’t usually take umbrellas and just wait until rain finishes, sometimes even using rain as an excuse for getting late. And yes, it’s strange for you because you know that they don’t even have cold rains like people in your country do, and you remember getting late not just in rains but in Russian cold winter wasn’t an excuse for you even in school.

You are used to walk but you see people in Delhi trying to avoid walking a lot and to just hide in buildings under air conditioners, considering Delhi weather as not good for walking. While you know that moms with small children in your country consider that they should walk every day even in -40 degrees winters.

Amusing, isn’t it?


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