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 degree Celsius. In contrast, the mercury has regularly soared beyond 40 degree Celsius in Delhi this month.
Police say they put up boards in Kaladhungi, Bhowali and Bhimtal saying that Nainital has reached its full capacity of tourists and all hotels are full. “We cannot stop the 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.
Authorities have 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.
The traffic problem has been compounded because of damage to the Rusi bypass due to a landslide in May. Many tourists used to take the bypass but are now forced to take the arterial Kathgodam- Naintal route, choking the road. “We will be asking the district administration to take steps for increasing the parking capacity in Nainital city so as to cope up with the influx of tourists in the future,” said the SSP.