Tourists Throng Shimla After Light Snowfall; Hotel Occupancy Rises By 10-15 Percent

Several places in low hills were lashed by intermittent rains ending the dry spell. The tourism industry is pinning hope that snow would increase the tourist rush on weekends.

Snowfall in Srinagar

Tourists have started thronging to the queen of hills and the occupancy in hotels soared by 10-15 percent following light snowfall in Shimla and suburbs.

However, the snowfall was followed by rain and sleet and the happiness of tourists and residents lasted only for a few minutes.  Several places in low hills were lashed by intermittent rains ending the dry spell. The tourism industry is pinning hope that snow would increase the tourist rush on weekends.

The occupancy in hotels on Friday was about 50 percent as people from neighbouring Punjab and Haryana avoid travelling on Lohri and the rush would pick up from Saturday, said M K Seth, the president of Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association. Kothi in Kullu received 14 cm of snow followed by Khadrala and Shillaro 10 cm and 7.5 cm, Koksar 6 cm, Manali, Theog, Nichar, Bharmaur 5 cm while Kufri, Kalpa and Gondla received 4 cm each. 

Jakhu hill in the capital town was covered under a thin layer of snow but intermittent rains washed the snow. Light snowfall is being witnessed in isolated parts of Shimla, Kangra, Kullu, Chamba, Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts and as many as 194 roads including 177 in Lahaul and Spiti, 14 in Chamba, two in Kangra and one in Kullu districts are closed for vehicular traffic and 148 transformers are disrupted.

The local Meteorological station has predicted light rain and snow in isolated areas in mid and higher hills on January 14 and rains in low hills and dry weather in the region from January 14 to January 18.  It also cautioned of dense fog and cold wave in low hills from January 14 to 17.  Keylong in tribal Lahaul and Spiti was coldest at night recording a minimum temperature at minus 6.3 degree Celsius followed by Narkanda minus 2.8 degree degree Celsius, Kalpa minus 2.6 degree Celsius, Kufri minus 1.2 degree Celsius, Dalhousie minus 0.1 degree Celsius while the key tourist resorts of Manali Shimla shivered 0.4 degree Celsius and 1.4 degree Celsius respectively.

The maximum temperatures also dropped and Una with 21.8 degree Celsius was hottest during the day while the key tourist resorts of Dharamshala, Shimla, Manali, Kufri, Dalhousie and Narkanda recorded a maximum temperature of 18 degree Celsius, 9.8 degree Celsius, 4.2 degree Celsius , 3.0 degree Celsius, 2.6 degree Celsius and 0.9 degree Celsius respectively.

The rain deficit in the month of January is 68 percent. The rains could reduce the loss by 10-15 percent, said officials of the agriculture department. The prolonged dry spell in the state had resulted in 20-25 percent loss to wheat and vegetable crops in rainfed areas which constitute 75 percent of the total cultivable land in the state as Himachal received almost 100 percent deficit rains in December 2022. 

Arrangements have been made in view of snow and the capital town has been divided into five sectors and nodal officers have been directed to hold meetings with concerned officers of various departments to chalk out a plan to handle the post-snowfall situation. The Shimla police have advised the tourists to drive safely at slippery points and call 0177-2812344 or 112 in case of emergency.