HALDWANI/SHIMLA/DHARAMSHALA: A searing heat wave sweeping north India is driving thousands of people to the hills, choking the scenic winding mountain roads that lead to Uttarakhand’s lake city of Nainital.
The famous hill station is bursting at the seams as up to 50,000 vehicles are reaching the city on weekends and all hotels are filled to capacity.
The rush is also triggering five-hour-long traffic snarls on the road between Haldwani and Nainital, a distance that can be covered in an hour.
The heavy tourist influx is driven by Nainital’s famously pristine lake and its pleasant average temperature of 23-24°C. In contrast, the mercury has regularly soared beyond 40°C in Delhi this month.
Police say they put up boards saying Nainital has reached its full capacity of tourists and that all hotels are full.
“We cannot stop people from going to Nainital but we are telling them that it has reached full capacity and they might encounter problems,” said Nainital senior superintendent of police Sweety Aggarwal.
The rush to other hill stations such as Shimla and Dharamshala in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh is also mounting with jams and no parking space in the towns.
Around 5,000 vehicles reached Shimla last weekend whereas the number crossed 2,000 in Dharamshala, a town with smaller roads. In Nainital, authorities deployed 50 additional traffic personnel.
“The parking capacity in Nainital is just 3,000 vehicles while up to 50,000 vehicles are reaching on weekends, putting a strain on resources and causing hardships to the tourists,” said the SSP.
Authorities expect more people to reach the hill stations in the coming days as the peak tourism period approaches. (With inputs from HTC in Shimla/Dharamshala)