Srinagar, Nov 13: The world famous ski resort of Gulmarg and other upper reaches in the Kashmir valley on Thursday, Nov 13 experienced season's first heavy snowfall while the plains, including the summer capital Srinagar, received rains resulting in biting cold.
However, the 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu and 434-km-long Srinagar- Leh national highways were through for traffic. Sources said that snow had accumulated on the slopes which are ready to receive skiers and adventure lovers. About 1000 tourists, including some foreigners and other states of the country, were out on slopes enjoying the first heavy snowfall. Snowfall started late on Wednesday, Nov 13 night and continued when this report was filed. About two to three feet of snowfall was experienced at Affarwat, Kongdori, Khilanmarg and other upper reaches in the sector.
Director Tourism Farooq Ahmad Shah, told the sources that more than 3,000 foreigners have already confirmed their booking for this winter and others were contacting to the tourism offices to confirm their trip.
He said the department is launching a massive campaign from the last week of December within the country and abroad to attract tourists to valley during winter.
Mr Shah said though every season in Kashmir was beautiful, but for the people from plains, winter is an idle time to see snowfall and enjoy the beauty here.
A report from Baramulla said that upper reaches in the entire north Kashmir experienced heavy snowfall while Keran, Karnah and Sadhna top too had snowfall since early this morning.
In south Kashmir, the weather was cloudy at the famed tourist resort of Pahalgam, the base camp of Shri Amarnath cave. Icy cold winds were sweeping the area with cloudy weather, forcing people to remain indoor, a resident told sources. He said only few hundred tourists, mostly from different Indian states, were staying in the hotels here.
Official sources said holy Amarnath cave and its periphery had heavy snowfall since Wednesday, Nov 12 evening while Sheshnag, Mahaguns, Pisso top and Panjtherni also experienced snowfall since Thursday, Nov 13 morning.
Chief Engineer BEACON project A K Bhutani said the Leh highway, which was being closed for traffic from the first of November every year for six winter months, will remain open this year till the weather permits.
He said the highway will be closed only if there is huge snowfall.
Mr Bhutani said the highway will be made all weather road by constructing a tunnel at Zojila. However, the work on feasibility for the tunnel will be taken up only next summer, he said.
Srinagar and its adjoining areas experienced rains, ending more than a long dry spell.
However, the rains resulted in considerable drop in the temperature, resulting in cold. Majority people remain indoor owing to holiday on account of Guru Nanak Dev ji's birthday.
The weather office has forecast snowfall and rains in the valley till Nov 14 as the Western Disturbances (WD) from Arabian sea through Afghanistan and Pakistan are active in the region.