Official term dates at the University of Delhi differ slightly every year. For the 2012-2013, calendar dates were made available on the university’s website in early May.
Typically, 1st semester starts during the later half of July and ends mid-November. Final examinations generally run from mid-November to mid-December. A reading week generally takes place in October.
Classes for 2nd semester typically start in very early January and run until the end of April. Examinations generally run from that moment until the third week of May. A weeklong mid-semester break also takes place in the second semester.
That said, there is a pretty big difference between official term dates and actual term dates. Firstly, some departments, especially for post-graduate studies, do tamper with the dates submitted by the central administration to suit their needs. Secondly, it often takes a solid 2 weeks after the term has begun before lectures actually start taking place. This is often the case because students wait for the previous semester’s results to be in before they start attending classes (in order to make sure they are eligible to take the current term’s papers). It is not uncommon for it to take about 6 weeks after the official start date before colleges become entirely functional.
The Indian calendar also boasts an impressive number of holidays each year. Thanks to having sizeable Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Jain populations, you’ll get many more days off than you’d get in the West! The University generally publishes a list of the holidays it will observe, but some colleges such as the Delhi School of Economics don’t abide by this calendar so it’s always better to double-check with peers.
Term dates are thus quite flexible – a magnificent expression of IST, which many Indians themselves refer to as Indian Stretchable Time). Although this uncertainty can be a little bit unsettling at first, it’s ultimately something to be grateful for. Having no lectures for a while is very helpful since it provides exchange students with time to meet with professors, register, apply for housing without having academics get in the way of handling administrative formalities. The best way is to show up and to “go with the flow” thereafter.
Note: This guide is based on personal experience and is not a university-sponsored publication. Policies, rules and processes, where they exist, do change and are often applied differently by different staff or colleges. The information in this guide should only be used to get a general idea of how things work for exchange students at Delhi University, and specifics should be validated with university officials.