In snowbound Shimla, tourists face harrowing time
Lahaul-Spiti district has been cut off from rest of the state as traffic movement through Atal Tunnel remained suspended
Himachal Pradesh’s capital Shimla has been witnessing heavy tourist influx after experiencing another spell of snow, which has also increased weather-related vagaries.
Hotel occupancy in the town is about 80% and is expected to jack up to 100% this weekend. However, with constant snowfall for the last 24 hours, most of the main and lateral roads in the town are wearing white mantle. The roads have not been open for the traffic.
“We have deployed heavy machines to clear the snowbound roads, but the weather conditions are making things difficult. Roads to hospitals have been thrown open though,” said Shimla DC Aditya Negi.
“Some of the roads leading to hotels in Kufri and Fagu are still under snow cover. Many tourists who were in town for single night are facing problems. Many restaurants, hotels and eateries remained closed on the main Mall Road, Lakkar Bazaar and Lower Bazaar,” he added.
“There are many tourists who wanted to return and several wished to come to Shimla for the weekend, but the heavy snowfall has disrupted all their plans,” said MK Seth, president, HP Tourism Stakeholders’ Association.
“It has been snowing since yesterday. All roads are closed. We are facing problems in reaching office. Supply of milk and bread has also been affected,” said a local resident, Rakesh Chauhan.
“As all roads are shut, I am walking for over an hour to reach my destination,” said a tourist, Rajender Singh.
“It was snowing yesterday also. We went to Kufri which has received very heavy snowfall. We are thrilled to be here,” said a tourist from Punjab, Ranjeet Singh.
No end to weather blues in HP
There was no respite from weather vagaries in Himachal Pradesh as higher and middle hills of the state continued to experience heavy snowfall while plain areas got lashed with heavy rains on second consecutive day.
Khadrala in Shimla got 48cm of snowfall while famous hill station Dalhousie got 30cm of snow and Chopal 25cm.
“Most of the roads in Shimla town are closed due to slippery conditions. Roads connecting upper reaches of the district to state capital are also closed at Kufri, Narkanda, Khidki and Kharapathar. We request you to avoid unnecessary travel or take alternative safer routes in case of emergency,” Shimla police said in an advisory.
Meanwhile, Lahaul-Spiti district has been cut off from rest of the state as traffic movement through Atal Tunnel remained suspended.
“National highways, state highways and link roads are blocked and slippery at many places due to snow and there is a possibility of avalanches and landslides,” said Lahaul and Spiti SP Manav Verma.
There is approximately 3ft snow accumulated at the tunnel’s south portal. He said only four-wheel drive emergency vehicles with chains will be allowed to ply within the district where the conditions allow.
There has been heavy snowfall in higher hills of Kullu, Mandi, Chamba and Kangra.
Director of state disaster management authority (SDMA), Sudesh Kumar Mokhta, said as many as 667 roads, including three national highways and one state highway, are closed for traffic. A total of 151 roads were closed in Chamba, 149 in Shimla and 138 in Lahaul-Spiti. Power supply has been snapped in remote parts due to more than 1,485 faulty transformers. Chamba is the worst-hit district with more than 680 transformers needing repairs followed by 422 in Mandi and 225 in Sirmaur. Water supply has stopped in at least 171 schemes.
Keylong was the coldest with the minimum temperature recorded at minus 6 degrees C followed by Kalpa at minus 4.7 degrees C. Kufri shivered at minus 3.2 degrees C, Dalhousie minus 2 degrees and Shimla and Manali at minus 0.4 degrees C.
Mercury dips across Valley
Many parts of Kashmir received fresh snowfall while others were lashed by rain, resulting in the drop in minimum temperatures across the valley, officials said on Friday.
Several places in the valley, especially in south Kashmir, received fresh overnight snowfall, the officials said.
They said Pahalgam tourist resort in south Kashmir recorded six inches of fresh snowfall, while Kokernag received around four inches of fresh snow and other parts of the Anantnag district received three to six inches of snow.
Other areas in south Kashmir also received snowfall during the night.
Some areas in Ganderbal district, in central Kashmir received three to four inches of snow, they said. The officials said most other parts of the valley received rains.
The weather is expected to remain wet on Friday and is likely to remain dry on Saturday, the officials said. Meanwhile, the minimum temperature decreased at most places in Kashmir last night. Srinagar recorded a low of 1.6 degrees Celsius – a degree up from the previous night, the officials said.
The famous ski-resort of Gulmarg, in north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 12 degrees Celsius – six degrees down from the previous night. It was the coldest recorded place in the valley.
Pahalgam, which also serves as the base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 3.4 degrees Celsius – down from minus 1.7 degrees Celsius the previous night, they said.
The officials said Qazigund recorded the minimum of 0.2 degrees Celsius, while the nearby south Kashmir town of Kokernag recorded a low of minus 1.1 degrees Celsius.
The mercury in Kupwara in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.4 degrees Celsius.