Himachal’s snowy peaks pull in tourists

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Shimla: Himachal Pradesh’s popular tourist resorts like Narkanda and Manali are wrapped up in a blanket of white, with snowfall turning the hill stations more picturesque and magnetic for holidaymakers.

Hospitality industry representatives say the timely onset of snowfall is a good indication of bountiful business ahead. They said last week’s snow has suddenly increased the tourist footfall.

Director of meteorological office Manmohan Singh said that though snowfall continued to elude state capital Shimla, its nearby hills had moderate snow. The minimum temperature in most of the places that saw snow last week stayed close to sub-zero, the Met office said here on Sunday.

Narkanda, the heart of the apple belt some 65 km from here, experienced mild spells of snow for two days.

Singh said the snowy landscape in Narkanda is expected to remain three to four days.

“The western disturbances have withdrawn from the region but the temperature came down massively. There are chances of more snowfall ahead,” he added.

The popular tourist destination Manali has plenty of snow. For the second consecutive day, Manali and the hills overlooking it experienced mild to moderate snowfall.

“This weekend Manali and its nearby areas got a record footfall of over 30,000 tourists. If the snow continues this week, the tourist arrival would multiply well before New Year’s Eve,” Manali District Tourism Officer Balbir Thakur said.

M.C. Thakur, Manali Hoteliers Association vice president, said: “Some points near Manali have plenty of snow where the tourists are enjoying skiing and snow scooter rides.”

He said after Saturday’s snowfall the arrival of the tourists, mainly from Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, has suddenly picked up.

“Now the tourists have been enquiring about the possibility of snowfall on Christmas and New Year’s Eve,” Thakur added.

The Rohtang Pass, located at an altitude of 13,050 feet and 51 km from Manali, has been closed for tourists after snowfall.

Tourists bound for the Rohtang Pass are not allowed to move beyond Gulaba, 19 km from Manali.

Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corp (HPTDC) general manager Yogesh Behl said hotels in Shimla, Narkanda, Manali, Dalhousie, Dharamsala, Palampur and Sangla in Kinnaur district are doing good business.

From Shimla’s historic Ridge, one can see the peaks wrapped in a thick white blanket of snow.

Likewise, the mighty Dhauladhar peaks overlooking Dharamsala and Palampur in Kangra district have got fresh snow.

Himachal Pradesh, which is highly dependent on tourism, attracted 13,298,748 tourists, including 454,851 foreigners, last year.

Kullu-Manali has emerged as a favourite tourist destination, followed by Shimla and Dharamsala.