The pandemic and subsequent heavy snowfall, which resulted in the ban of all tourist activity in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul –Spiti district, will no longer deprive visitors from experiencing the valley’s winter charm as local authorities have announced the start of a two-month long “snow festival” in Lahaul valley.
Pankaj Rai, Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul-Spiti, said the aim of hosting the winter festival is to be able to attract tourists to the region and also revive some of the long-lost traditions practiced by the locals.
“Earlier, during winters, the people of the region were cut off from the rest of the world. During that time the only major activity they indulged in was partaking in rituals and attending winter festivals held in different parts of the valley. Now, we have tried to combine all those winter activities and showcase them on one platform,” Rai said.
The Rohtang Tunnel, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 3, has been instrumental in connecting the valley with the rest of the country during winters. The tunnel has also boosted tourism and has helped the locals display their culture to tourists.
At the moment, the biggest problem in Lahaul-Spiti district, especially in Keylong is the disruption of drinking water supply during winters. Heavy snowfall and drop in temperatures leave the residents high and dry as the water supplies get completely blocked and frozen. The hotels in the region also shut down and thus no tourists visit the valley.
Rai has taken steps to address this issue.
“I have submitted a proposal for a Rs 10 Cr project to the state government for making drinking water available 24 X7 in winters from next year. This will open doors for tourists to visit the region during snow festivals in the future,” Rai told Outlook.
A host of different activities will be conducted during the snow festival including dance programmes and competitions. Different cuisines from the region and local craftmanship will also be showcased.
Minister for Technical education and tribal affairs Dr Ram Lal Markanda, who is also the local MLA said, “The locals have a rich culture and they follow various, unique traditions which will be on display during the festival.”