Scorching heat, power cuts and the water crisis in the last fortnight has people from the national Capital and NCR flocking towards cooler climes.
Flights, trains and hotels at hill stations witness a rush every year during summer. But apart from the pre-booked traffic, there has been a sudden spurt of about 15-20% in number of tourists from Delhi-NCR visiting hill stations in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.
"The heat is unbearable and the 10-hour power cuts and water shortage had made our life hell," said Yuvraj Galghotia, a resident of Ghaziabad. "Last week, we made a last-minute plan to visit a nearby hill station but all flights and trains were booked to the popular tourist places. That is why I, along with my family, drove to Mukhteshwar in Uttarakhand for a five-day vacation," he said.
Experts said while the more popular tourist hubs were already overbooked months in advance, people planning vacations at the last moment are going to nearby places by road.
“This summer, the highest traffic out of Delhi is towards Kashmir and Leh but travel tickets and hotels for these were overbooked. Apart from this, there has been an increase of 25-30% in the number of people trying to escape Delhi's heat. There is a huge demand for hotel rooms in hill stations closer to the capital," said Keyur Joshi, COO of travel portal, makemytrip.com.
Rajji Rai of the Travel Agents Association of India said even though all flights to hill stations are fully booked, there has been a 15 per cent increase in tourist traffic in the last fortnight.
"There has been a 15 per cent rise in the number of passengers hitting our website between 8 am and 10 am for tatkal tickets. We have been getting around 2 lakh hits in first two hours whereas, only 60,000 tatkal tickets are available on the portal," said an IRCTC officer.
Up to three additional coaches are being added to trains bound for hill stations to clear the rush. Bulk booking is being done for trains to Kathgodam, the nearest station for Nainital, Dehradun, Kalka, near Shimla, and Pathankot, which serves as the base to visit hill stations of Himachal Pradesh such as Dharamshala and Dalhousie.