While northern parts of India are still witnessing snowfall, the rest of the country is bracing itself for the early arrival of a long, hot summer amid a spike in temperatures.
Recent days have seen the temperatures running five degrees Celsius above average in places, with the early pre-monsoon heat bringing highs above 40C.
India’s western Maharashtra state is reeling under scorching heatwave-like conditions, while Erinpura, in Rajasthan state, and Amreli, in Gujarat state, both recorded highs of 43C on Friday.
It was even hotter in Khargone in Madhya Pradesh, with a high of 44.5C.
India regularly suffers life-threatening heatwaves. Periods of extreme temperatures have led to thousands of deaths since the 1990s.
Usually, eastern, western and central parts of India reel under intense heat waves from mid-April to July, before monsoon rains provide needed relief.
Possible reasons for the rising temperatures range from global warming to greater urbanisation, leading to taller buildings and diminishing green cover.
Al Jazeera and news agencies