Ishtiyaq Ahmad Ahmad
Srinagar Nov 19 (KINS): After receiving season’s first snowfall, tourists and locals have been thronging to picturesque Gulmarg these days.
For three days between last Saturday and Monday, the upper reaches received moderate to heavy snowfall while plans received rainfall resulting in dip in temperatures in the valley.
People in Kashmir got a host of reasons to cheer up and at the same time make arrangements to beat the intense cold.
Director Meteorological Department Sonam Lotus said Kashmir would receive another wet spell from tomorrow.
He said last year Kashmir received snowfall in November highest in six decades. “So far we have received good snowfall this season but it will be premature to say if valley receives more snowfall than two previous years,” he told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).
As Kashmir witnesses frequent power cuts during winters, locals use Kangri, a cheap and effective way to keep warm.
People also have started reserving dried food like vegetables, tomato, brinjal and fried fish for coming weeks to tide over the disruption in the supply of essential commodities.
Famous tourist destination Gulmarg in Baramulla district, which recorded almost 2 feet of snowfall since Saturday, has come to life as tourists and locals have started thronging this popular ski-resort. People are seen enjoying snow and taking pictures and some doing snow skiing.
“When we got to know that Kashmir will receive snowfall from November 14, we made a plan and arrived here to celebrate Diwali at Gulmarg amid snowfall,” said Arjun Manish Gupta, a resident of Mumbai, who arrived here last Friday.
“Tourism has been badly hit since August 5 last year. As parts of Kashmir including Gulmarg received snow, we are expecting a good number of tourists will visit here,” a hotel owner at Gulmarg said.
A senior official of Tourism Department said the snowfall was an encouraging sign for tourism. “If Gulmarg receives some more snow in coming days, then winter sports will be started very soon there,” he said, adding snow carnival and other recreational events are lined-up in Gulmarg, Pahalgam to boost tourism in Kashmir.
Similarly, tourists are also enjoying gondola ride in snow-draped Gulmarg.
With the receiving of snowfall, authorities have decided to organize events under various disciplines including snowboarding, skiing, snow show, snow cycling and other games at Gulmarg in coming weeks.
At the same time, the snowfall has also brought miseries for some masses. Authorities have issued advisory of snow avalanche for various parts of Kashmir and asked to remain alert. On Wednesday one army man died and two soldiers also got injured due to a snow avalanche in Tangdhar area of North Kashmir.
The recent snowfall also led to closure of Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, which has been thrown open now. The Highway is the only link road connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country.
“It takes over 10 days trucks laden with apple and other items to reach various fruit mandis like New Delhi from Srinagar. Whenever highway gets closed, we are not able to export our goods resulting fruits perish in Kashmir,” said Ali Mohammad, a fruit dealer from South Kashmir’s Shopian district.
The 440 kilometres Srinagar-Leh Ladakh road has also been closed due to snowfall. During winters, people of Ladakh have only air connectivity with the valley.
Similarly, the 84-km Bandipora-Gurez road was closed by authorities. (KINS)