It's been one of the most challenging years of our lives, thanks to the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Last week, Diwali had brought with it a ray of hope for everyone. And now, things finally seem to fall back in place.
The pandemic has been pretty harsh to the travel and tourism sector but not any more. People have adapted to the new normal and are starting to hit the road once again.
In Himachal Pradesh, one of the country's most flocked-to tourist destinations, the snowfall season has arrived and people are thronging the beautiful state from all parts of India. While all time favourite destinations like Manali and Kufri witnessed the season's first snowfall on Monday, tourists are also visiting Shimla, known as the queen of hills, in droves.I have missed travelling like everyone else, so when an opportunity to visit Shimla for my birthday came my way, I was game. While I couldn't visit Kufri and Narkanda, where it had snowed, I did manage to stroll around the Mall Road in Shimla on a fine winter afternoon this Wednesday.
Everyone knows that the pandemic is far from over, which is why tourists are taking necessary precautions to battle the dreadful virus.
While tourists are aware of the gravity of the situation, they are making the most of their trip. From shopping for woollens and souvenirs to eating at popular food joints to taking horse rides, they are doing everything touristy.
The onset of the tourist season in Himachal Pradesh has sent a wave of happiness among everyone associated with the travel and tourism sector. From hotel and restaurant owners to roadside vendors, horsemen and photographer, everyone is elated to see tourists.Street photographers who take pictures of tourists in traditional Himachali attire for a living are also happy. They are hopeful that they will finally be able to make up for the losses they incurred during the summers because of the lockdown.
Street photgraphers have never had it easy ever since our mobile phones replaced the good old professional cameras.
The state government is leaving no stone unturned to provide a safe experience for tourists. Loudspeaker announcements urging people to wear face masks and maintain social distancing are being played out on the Mall Road.
It seemed like any other day from the pre-pandemic times. Most tourists choose Shimla as their base for further explorations in the upper reaches of Himachal. Some parts of the state including Mandi, Dharamshala, Nahan and Chamba received rain showers while the mercury dipped to freezing temperatures in areas like Kalpa, Dalhousie and Keylong.