Travel & Leisure

Why India’s Time Zone is 30 minutes off?

India 's exception to worldwide time zones

If there is a 1-hour difference between each time zone, so why India’s time has 30 minutes off from its greater time zone? It’s been a source of confusion for not only travelers and expats, but also for India’s very own people. Let’s set the record straight!

When were timezones created?

The time zone system as we know it was developed in 1878 by Sir Sandford Fleming. His idea was to divide the planet into 24 different zones to accommodate Earth’s rotation. That said, the Greenwich Meridian Time had already been invented, and well-used by astronomers for quite a while already.

But at the time, this wasn’t a common system and was way too complex for the public to be able to use, especially with the technology of that era. Near the 1900s, time zones were finally used by everybody, making international business way easier.

Why do we need different time zones?

Since our planet is rotating, some countries receive sunlight while others don’t. Therefore, the time of the day can differ from one country to another, thus why we need time zones in order to know what time it is in another country.

These time zones are divided with the meridian lines, which are longitude 15 degrees apart from each other. Now, some countries have their capital located in the middle of 2 meridians and that can complicate their time offset, which we will explain in detail below.

Why India has a different time zone?

India having a half-hour time zone goes back a long way actually. New Delhi, the capital of India, is located right in the middle of 2 meridians. Because of politics and the head-scratching location, they simply went for 30 minutes instead of the 1-hour standard increment.

While Pakistan’s time is UTC +5:00 and Bangladesh’s is UTC +6:00, it was just the best solution. As soon as India became an independent country in 1947 after World War 2, the India Standard Time (IST) was officially created.

What’s India Standard Time in GMT and UTC?

India Standard Time (IST) has a time zone offset of UTC/GMT +5:30. India’s time is in fact 30 minutes off from Pakistan, its neighboring country.

Is there only one Time Zone in India?

Yes, the IST time zone goes across the entirety of India. Both Greenwich Time and Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) are five and a half hours ahead, or GMT+05:30, or UTC+05:30 in India.

What are the daylight hours like in India?

In the northern side of India, so Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Haryana, and Punjab, the sunlight begins its journey. Then, from January to April, note that daylight hours are around 11 hours. From May to August, the daylight hours go up to 13 hours, just to go down afterward from September to December.

In the southern part, however, daylight hours are a bit different. In the first months, daylight hours are around 12 instead of 11, for example. This difference affects many cities such as Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nady, Telanga, and Kerela. On the eastern side, you get a big 14 hours of daylight time from May to August!

Is there any Day Saving Time in India?

No, there is not, which has been an issue for many Indian people through the years. As illustrated above, there are many differences between Indian cities, daylight time-wise. In areas where the sun sets much later, schools still start at the same time as all the other schools in the country, making it difficult and mostly unproductive for the students.

Northern Indian people often complain that the sun sets too fast during Winter, making their electricity bills more expensive than usual since the lights are turned on for longer periods of time. Will India ever introduce the Day Saving Time (DST) system in their country, who knows? For now, it is unfortunately not an option on the table.

Are there any other countries that have the same Timezone as India?

Interestingly, the Myanmar time zone, MTT, is exactly the same as India’s time zone. They are both UTC +5:30, the clock strikes at exactly the same time. But again, for political reasons, they both their own time zone names, despite having the same offset.

And if that wasn’t enough confusing, note that there are actually many other countries with a weird time offset that differ from the usual 1-hour increment. For example, you have Iran, Afghanistan, and Burma, who all use a 30-minute offset. Even weirder, Nepal’s time is GMT + 5:45, now that’s confusing!

Now that you know why and how India’s time zone is the way it is today, we hope it is a bit less confusing. If you ever go to India, you will know that your watch needs a 30-minute change, but now with our smartphones and smartwatches, it’s all managed automatically anyway.