Sub-zero temperature might have forced most people in Kashmir valley to stay indoors but at the same time it has sprung up a new tourist attraction: the frozen Dal lake.
Kashmir valley is shivering under sub-zero temperature for the last ten days. While temperature in Ladakh is hovering around minus 16 degree Celsius, Srinagar is chilly with around minus four degree Celsius.
"The dry cold spell will continue till western disturbances bring some showers with it," said a Srinagar Meteorological department official. The Met predicts dry spell for at least one more week in Kashmir valley.
The cold spell, however, has spelled magic for the lake, which has started forming sheaths of ice in the morning at the fringes and in the centre around the landmasses.
"Everyday, I break through the ice sheet to make way for my shikara (small boat) to reach to the banks to buy groceries," said Lateef Ahmad, a houseboat owner, who lives in interiors of the lake spread over ten square kilometre.
The frozen lake has attracted many local tourists to the banks of Dal. "It's amazing to watch ice sheets cracking slowly in the morning and then floating from one direction to another. I have never witnessed a frozen lake before in my life," said Krishan Kumar, a tourist, who has come for his honeymoon.
"What adds to the beauty is bright moonlight over the lake in the night while water turns into ice," said Kumar's wife Jyoti.
For locals, the sub-zero temperature has added to their woes with taps freezing and dip in electricity.
Most health resorts in Kashmir valley are in the grip of sub-zero temperature with Pahalgam in south Kashmir, and famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north witnessing temperature around minus five degree Celsius. Srinagar too recorded minus 5.2 degrees last week, lowest of the season so far.
In early 1980s, the then chief minister Farooq Abdullah drove a jeep on the frozen lake and youth played cricket on it. In the past two decades many people have lost their lives when the ice has sheath caved in.