Severe cold engulfed Kashmir on the eve of culmination of the 40-day harshest winter period known in local parlance as 'Chillai-Kalan' as the night temperature nosedived further below the freezing point at most places in the Valley and frontier Ladakh region.
However, the sunny morning - witnessed during the most part of this season - provided much needed relief to the denizens of summer capital Srinagar and other places from the bone-chilling cold during the night.
Pahalgam hill resort in south Kashmir, which serves as the base camp during the annual Amarnath yatra, registered the coldest night of the season so far as the night temperature dropped by nine degrees to settle at minus 11.2 degrees celsius, a spokesperson of the MET department said.
The spokesperson said Kargil in Ladakh region was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir as the night temperature dipped to minus 17.0 degrees celsius.
The hill resort along with most parts of the Valley including Srinagar experienced snowfall on Friday. Though the plains witnessed the first snowfall of the season, it was sixth in the high altitude areas since the beginning of the winter but unlike past, this year the snowfall was light and occasional.
Srinagar, which recorded a high of 9.3 degrees celsius, three degrees above normal during this part of the season owing to sunny day, registered a dip of over three degrees in the night temperature which settled at minus 3.5 degrees celsius against the previous night's minus 0.2 degrees celsius.
Gulmarg, the hill resort in north Kashmir and the star attraction for tourists especially skiers from abroad also registered a dip of 1.3 degrees celsius. The night temperature in the hill resort settled at minus 9.6 degrees celsius against minus 8.6 the previous night.
Gulmarg has recorded the coldest night of the season on January 28 with a minimum of minus 10.6 degrees Celsius.
Leh in Ladakh region was reeling at a low of minus 16.7 Leh in Ladakh region was reeling at a low of minus 16.7 degrees celsius, he said.
He said Kokernag hill resort in south Kashmir recorded a minimum of minus 4.5 degrees celsius, a drop of 3.4 degrees celsius compared to previous night.
Similarly, the night temperature also registered a dip of 3.2 degrees in the highway town of Qazigund and the border town of Kupwara. While Qazigund on Srinagar-Jammu national highway recorded a low of minus 3.2 against 0.0 degrees Celsius the previous night, Kupwara town recorded a low of minus 3.8 degrees Celsius against minus 0.6 degrees Celsius yesterday, the spokesman said.
'Chillai-Kalan' began on December 21 and would end on Saturday. However, the winter continues after that as the 40-day period would be followed by a 20-day long 'Chillai Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day long 'Chillai Bachha' (baby cold).