The Changing Seasons in Eastern Rajasthan
Photo by Signe Wolsgard Kroyer
One of our Team@Savista – a native of the U.S.- remarked with wonder at the climatic diversity in Rajasthan that she was able to observe over an eight month period here, and announced that we should surely do a blogpost on this aspect! We have also observed that several of our Western guests arrive with a bland view of India as a uniformly “hot” country round the year (with, perhaps, the exception of the Himalayas which, again, are often mistakenly believed to be uniformly snow-covered).
So, here we are with a little note on the nuanced nature of the seasons in this part of Rajasthan. We have several seasons – a few long ones and a few short ones. The two really significant ones – the polar opposites – are summer and winter. The rest of the year is peppered with shorter seasons, within which are embedded further sub-seasons.
Summer is the longest season (three months, from mid-April until mid-July), when the climate is unrelentingly hot and dry, approximating desert conditions. During the day, the sun’s rays are sharp and brilliant. But, as in the desert, midnight to early morning temperatures could even drop to cold.
Winter (around eight to ten weeks, from mid-December until end-February) is cold and crisp in the mornings and evenings, with late night temperatures dipping sometimes even to zero. Day-time temperatures, though, could be quite warm.
Close on the heels of summer come the life-giving rains (around six weeks, from mid-July until end-August). The rainy season in Rajasthan is not the ‘monsoon’ that one associates with other regions in the country. It is more a period of dramatic cloud formations, loud claps of thunder and intense bouts of lightning. Teasing clouds may appear in the skies for days on end, with not a drop released. And showers when they occur may tend to be few, short and hesitant, leaving the earth feeling dry within minutes of their appearance. In a good year, where the summer has gone through several strong dust/sand storms (called aandhis), many of these short showers could be heavy, accompanied by gusty winds and madly swaying trees, and could even cause flash floods. But whether weak or strong, these showers – even the weakest – can make nature come incredibly alive as nowhere else in the country, with multiple shades of brilliant green covering every inch of the ground. By and large for humans, this is a season of long and pleasantly-cloudy days, when outdoor temperatures are comfortable.
The rains are followed by a ‘short summer’ ( of around two to three weeks, roughly early-September until end-September or early-October). This is a season of humidity – the only one of its kind in this region – when the recently-nourished earth goes about its business of regenerating life. There is an explosion of insect life within the dense young grass and vegetation that the rains had set off. And in turn, the availability of insects supports a proliferation of bird-life as there is plenty of food to feed the newly-hatched chicks sitting out the rains in their precariously swaying nests. Without too much labour, parent birds help their chicks grow strong and learn to fly away. For humans, this is a great birding season.
It is a relief when autumn ( eight to ten weeks, early-October until early-December) dawns cool and lovely. Long balmy days and cool nights, ideal weather for exploring the outdoors or relaxing in the shade of the spreading trees. Both insects and birds have by now come to terms with their respective life cycles. Trees stand testimony to abandoned nests, some trees completely festooned with the intricate hanging nests of the Baya weaver bird. The cooler weather acts as a dampener on population explosion among insects. Butterflies and sunbirds take the place of insects as the royalty of the outdoors, as colourful flowers begin to bloom everywhere and the trees continue to wear their mantle of green. This is one of the loveliest seasons in this part of Rajasthan.
Matching autumn in every respect is spring (six weeks, early-March until mid-April), that comes after the winter, when the days and nights are cool and flowers bloom everywhere. . Alas, an all-too-short season. But it is a period of festivity and celebration culminating in the uniquely north Indian spring ‘festival of colours’ called Holi.
Embedded in the spring and winter are two mini-seasons of Fall, when many of the local trees shed their old leaves to make way for new ones. In late spring as the heat of summer begins to make itself felt, the Neem, Gulmohur, Lesva, Kesariya-shyam, Palash, Jacaranda and Karanji begin to uncover their branches. This allows the birds to show themselves off on the bare branches and send out their mating calls. In early winter it is the turn of the Khejri trees to shed their aging yellow leaves leaves and almost simultaneously sprout tender green ones. Embedded in mid-summer is a season of strong desert sandstorms (aandhis) that create the conditions for plentiful rains.