An uncharacteristically snowless winter has taken the romance out of honeymooning in Kashmir this season but weather experts warned that the iconic white peaks and valleys immortalised in Bollywood films could soon become history.
Newly-wed couples are leaving the valley disappointed in the warmest winter in years with tourist hot spots like Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam receiving negligible snowfall.
Even during chilai kalan’ -- the 40-day harshest spell of winter starting December 20 -- it did not snow much in Srinagar, which is yet to stabilise after last year’s devastating floods.
The once bustling jetties of shikaras, around two dozen of them, on Srinagar’s boulevard remained static in the height of tourist season.
“Snow was Srinagar’s unique selling point for honeymoon couples and winter sports lovers. Couples prefer to visit and stay in the places iconised by Bollywood movies like ‘Jab Jab Phool Khiley’ and ‘Kashmir ki Kali’,” said Nazir Ahmad Dhobi, a shikara driver who has taken honeymoon couples from the country and abroad on joyrides on the Dal Lake.
Newly-wed Rohan Ratan, a resident of Delhi, admitted that they were disappointed by the lack by snow.
“We stayed in a houseboat just to witness snowfall. We were told it snows in the last week of December and first week of January. But it didn’t happen this year,” Ratan said.
Shakil Romshoo, head of department of Kashmir University’s Earth Sciences, warned that Kashmir valley could see snowless winters within a few decades.
“The valley has already witnessed a 1.3 degree Celsius increase in temperature, bringing down night time temperature too this year,” said Romshoo.
The tourism department too did not plan elaborate winter festivals Gulmarg and Pahalgam, in north and south Kashmir, because of poor snowfall, thus affecting tourist footfall.
Now, those associated with the tourism industry are looking up to Bollywood to boost the industry once more.
“Bollywood has always brought good omen for us. Shooting and films projecting the valley pulls in the crowds for sure. I hope new Bollywood ventures in Kashmir will lift the dampened mood,” said Nazir Gulzar, who owns a travel company.
On Friday, Katrina Kaif and Aditya Roy Kapoor romanced at the Mughal-era Nishat garden for a new movie Fitoor, based on Charles Dickens’ classic ‘Great Expectations’.
Director Abhishek Kapoor is likely to shoot for four days in the valley.
Former chief minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah has publicly expressed concern over less snowfall in Srinagar.
“Those wondering why snow is such a big deal need to know that the snow that falls during this month stays longer & feeds our rivers. Less snow means less discharge in our rivers & that means water shortages & lower electricity generation in the summer; bad for J&K (sic),” Abdullah wrote on microblogging site Twitter.