Shimla/Manali: If you are heading to the hills of Himachal before the New Year dawns and want to enjoy the snowy landscape, extend your holidays, as the Met Office has forecast snow till January 3.
“The western disturbances will be active in the region from December 31 with chances of snowfall between January 1 and 3,” Manmohan Singh, Director of the local India Meteorological Department, told IANS.
He said the probability of snowfall in Shimla, Kufri, Narkanda, Manali, Kalpa and Dalhousie are high from January 1.
Members of the hospitality industry say most of the tourists are enquiring about the chances of snowfall on New Year’s Eve.
Despite long sunny days, most of the hotels in Shimla, Kufri, Kasauli, Chail, Dharamsala, Palampur and Manali are chock-a-block with New Year’s Eve revellers.
“Most of our properties in Shimla and Manali are seeing nearly 80 per cent occupancy till January 2,” Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) General Manager Poonam Bhardwaj told IANS.
She said a majority of the guests have been enquiring about the possibility of snowfall on the New Year’s Eve.
Over 50,000 tourists were expected to visit the state to ring in the New Year, tourism industry experts say.
Bhardwaj said the arrival of tourists in Kufri, Kasauli, Narkanda, Manali, Dalhousie, Dharamsala and Palampur is overwhelming.
Snowfall is always an added attraction for the tourists, mainly from the plains.
The popular tourist town of Narkanda, some 65 km from Shimla, is still wrapped in a snow cover.
Shimla, known for the imperial grandeur of buildings that were once institutions of power when it was the summer capital of British India, had the season’s first snowfall on December 12 but it melted within a few hours.
Niharika and Amit Aggarwal, a couple from New Delhi, said they might extend their New Year holidays “if there are chances of snowfall”.
“For the past few days we were enjoying long sunny days, a perfect break from foggy conditions in Delhi. If there are chances of snowfall, we will definitely extend our holidays in Shimla,” Aggarwal added.
The mountain peaks viewed from Shimla, and the Dhauladhar peaks overlooking the Tibetan Buddhist leader Dalai Lama’s official palace in McLeodganj near Dharamsala are covered by a white blanket of snow.
Tourist arrivals in the hill state every year surpasses the state’s population of about 6.5 million.
Manali-based travel agent Deepak Thakur said hotels are getting a good response for the New Year celebrations owing to snow accumulation.
He said Manali is the only destination in the state where one can witness snow either in the town or in its vicinity throughout the winter.
From Gulaba onwards, 19 km from Manali, the tourists can ride snow-sledges or hurl snowballs at each other, he added.
According to the Met office, it was 2002 when it snowed in Shimla last time on New Year’s Eve.