Officials said on Sunday that most of the dead were poor and homeless people.

Temperatures over the past week have dropped in most parts of north India and a thick blanket of fog has disrupted rail, road and air travel.

Most fatalities were in the populous northern state of Uttar Pradesh which lies near the Himalayas.

Temperatures dropped nine degrees Celsius overnight in some places and stood at 13.7 degrees Celsius (56 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday in Uttar Pradesh.

Public bonfires

"Arrangements have been made for about 100 public bonfires in Uttar Pradesh's capital, Lucknow, to provide relief to pavement dwellers," state official Navneet Sehgal told Reuters.

Authorities have provided shelters for the poor in schools and other buildings in northern states where exposure to cold kills dozens of people every year.

Although not cold by the standards of many other nations, the drop in temperature has had a devastating effect on thousands of homeless people in India.