Exasperated by the massive traffic snarl-ups, visitors from Punjab who had made a beeline to the hill stations of Himachal Pradesh are now returning disappointed. Many of them who lost their patience in negotiating back to back traffic on the roads turned back midway with the authorities appearing to be unable to handle the sudden rise in the tourist inflow from the plains leading to long traffic jams here.
To beat the searing heat in the plains Punjabis from the Majha region have flocked to Dalhousie, Dharamsala and Palampur while others have headed for Kullu and Manali. Though the road up to Banikhet near Dalhousie and to Dharmsala are relatively broad, motorists taking other routes have to sweat it out to reach their destinations due to the narrow roads and little or no space for parking. Many of them are forced to park their vehicles randomly.
"I was going to Macleodganj to see the temple of the Dalai Lama but could not make it due to the huge traffic jams", said Bal Krishan, a visitor from Pathankot. "We could reach up to Dharamsala, but due to the long lines of vehicles on both sides of the road could not make it to Mcleodganj where the Tibetan spiritual leader is camping in a monastry. The authorities allow even Volvo buses to ply on this road, which can just accommodate two cars at a time, which has added to the chaos. I'll now go there in winter," he added.
Ravinder Wasan, a local dealing with tourists going to Dharamsala, said the administration would have to bar large vehicles on these roads as they were not broad enough. "They should at least prohibit big vehicles like Volvo buses on the roads leading to popular hill stations during the tourist season. We're incurring huge financial losses as many tourists coming from outside the state are now reluctant to visit Dharamsala," he added.
"We're doing our best to manage the chaotic traffic but the sheer number of vehicles on these small roads poses a challenge for us," said a traffic cop.