Wednesday, January 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Shimla wears a white blanket
Kasauli also has snow
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 31
The weather god obliged the thousands of winter holiday revellers who have converged on the “queen of hills” to experience the thrill of a snowfall on New Year’s Eve.

The tourists got a pleasant surprise as the snow was quite unexpected. There was not even a trace of cloud in the sky until last evening and the sun had been shining brightly over the region for the past few days, much to their disappointment.

However, the mood of the weather changed suddenly and dark clouds covered the sky overnight. The visitors were overjoyed as feather-like flakes of snow started drifting down from the sky early in the morning. The soft woolly snow covered everything and transformed the landscape into a virtual fairyland within no time.

It is after seven years that the snow kept its date with the hill resort on New Year’s Day.

A large number of tourists thronged the nearby resorts of Kufri and Fagu, which normally receive more snow than the town.

A festive atmosphere prevailed in the city, particularly on The Mall and the famous Ridge Maidan, where the revellers gathered in large numbers to enjoy the thrill of falling snow. They embraced each other and exchanged New Year greetings. Young couples, mostly honeymooners, got themselves photographed in falling snow, while others exchanged snowballs. A few of them ventured to make snowmen.

Various areas of the town had received 5cm to 15 cm of snow by the evening, the first this season. Mount Jakhu, the highest peak of the town, recorded 15 cm of snow and Kufri 20 cm . The Hatu peak, overlooking Narkanda ,was under 40 cm of snow. The entire tribal belt of Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Churdhar have been receiving incessant snow since last night.

There were numerous traffic jams due to slippery road conditions and heavy rush of vehicles as people from the adjoining plains made a beeline to the hill resorts to enjoy a white New Year. The town continued to receive intermittent snow till the evening.

The snow brought cheer to the hoteliers and others connected with the tourist trade as a good snowfall around the New Year extends the otherwise lean winter tourist season by a week. Although now a days the snow melts quickly in the town, the tourists can always go to Kufri, Fagu and other nearby areas where it lasts much longer.

The upper areas of Shimla and the entire Kinnaur district were cut off as snow blocked the Hindustan-Tibet highway and other roads beyond Kufri. The State Road Transport Corporation suspended its bus services to Rohru, Chopal, Narkanda, Jubbal Kotkhai, Theog, Thanedar, Rekong Peo and several other areas. The bus services to Rampur were diverted through Basantpur.

There were frequent breakdowns of power and the telecommunication network was also affected in some areas.

The snow has raised the hopes of good apple crop in the ensuing season. Considered as “white manure” for the orchards, the snow provides the essential chilling hours for the plants. On an average, 1,200 to 1600 hours of chilling is required, during which the temperature should remain below 7° Centigrade, for a good apple crop. The lower areas of the state had widespread rain which brought much relief to the farmers who were facing a drought-like situation.

KASAULI: (FOC): There was a mood of palpable excitement and happiness as the white mantle of snow spread across the town early on Tuesday, bringing cheer to the locals as well as the holiday revellers who had gathered here in large numbers.

Braving the chilly weather, people came out of their houses to enjoy the snow which had been eluding this quiet cantonment town for a number of years around the new year. Disappointed over the dry Christmas people, had almost lost hopes of witnessing a snowfall this time. A beeline of tourist vehicles, comprising mostly youngsters, from the nearby plains, including Chandigarh, Delhi and Punjab, was seen rushing towards the town.

The unexpected snowfall has also brought a steep increase in the sale of woollen items, particularly by tourists who were seen purchasing caps, shawls, and gloves, with sales going up by as much as 40 per cent, said Dharampal, a sales executive at the local Awwa Complex. With demand for hot coffee and tea going up, small restaurants and kiosk owners were seen doing brisk business.


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