India has tropical weather. One cannot
speak of the climate of India, or else one must speak of several different
India's. The subcontinent has eight climatic zones all of which only have
the monsoon rains in common. But even the monsoon comes to different parts
of the country at different times. And you can fly in the space of a couple
of hours through a range of weather from the cold crisp air of the mountains
to the burning dry heat of the Rajasthan Desert where summer temperature
regularly reach 45°C and beyond.
It is beautiful to see the sand dunes shift and move to the will of the
winds, but not at all pleasant to be caught in a sand strom coming off the
Thar. In winter Rajasthan is dry and cold and the skies a translucent blue.
There is little rain and the monsoon winds often pass Rajasthan by leaving
the prickly thorny bushes, acacia trees and other native vegetation to pick
up what little dew the night bring with it. Pumps and tube wells lift water
for agricultural irrigation but farmers often get only a few distribution of
water, particularly in the more arid areas of Jodhpur, Bikaner and
Jaisalmer, is systematically organized.
The wheat and sugarcane growing areas of the Punjab, Haryana and parts of
western Uttar Pradesh suffer from drastic extremes in climate. It can be
very cold from December - January, very dry and hot from the end of March
till June, very hot and humid till the monsoons arrive from July through
September. The rest of the year is comfortably pleasant. The fields are full
of mustard flowers, the air is redolent of sugarcane being crushed and
molasses on the boil.
Across the Gangetic plain, the summer months are an interminable heat haze.
From Gwalior through Bhopal and Raipur to Patna and Nagpur, temperature
begin to rise in March and by May they hover around 45°C. In the
fields, the earth actually shows deep cracks. In Bihar, for example, a
terrible drought with near famine conditions occurred a few year ago. The
fickle winds had taken the clouds several thousands miles westward to the
Punjab, and India's granary produced bumper crops that same year!
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