A Shimla resident, Nikita, won the Manali 'winter queen' crown during the Manali winter carnival on Tuesday night, after facing a tough contest from 43 contestants during the beauty pageant selection process. The five days of festivities concluded yesterday with the declaration of winter queen, considered the key event of the carnival.
Talking with reporters, Nikita said: "Winning this title is quite an amazing moment in my life to and now I'd like to contest in the Miss India contest in the near future. I received a Rs 1 lakh cash prize and I would like to donate one-half of the money to an old age home in Manali that I visited during my stay in the town."
The beauty pageant contestants raised a controversy over the decision of the jury, which forced the chairman of the winter carnival committee to come on the stage to pacify them. The jury was forced to take one more round of contestants to declare the winter queen.
Visually impaired Khema Raj native of Kullu won the title of the "voice of the winter carnival", while Mamta Sharma, a native of Mandi district, was the runner-up in the competition.
Local MLA Govind Thakur expressed his displeasure over the performance of the winter carnival committee members, saying it was a "dull event, which failed to serve the purpose as expected by people associated with the tourism industry".
Panchayati Raj minister Anil Sharma was the chief guest at the concluding ceremony of the event and was accompanied by local MLA Govind Thakur, Kullu MLA Maheshvar Singh, winter carnival committee chairman, deputy commissioner Kullu Rakesh Kanwar and other dignitaries on the stage. During his address, he praised the performance of artists. "These kind of events should be organized in winter as well as summer, which may help to draw the attention of tourists in the district throughout the year. The state government is making its best efforts to promote the tourism sector in Kullu district, which may help to enhance the region's economy," he added.