Thursday, 30 June 2011

No tourist stranded at Rohtang - DC Kullu-Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Kullu DC BM Nanta has refuted the news headlines captioned as “Thousands of tourists stranded at Rohtang following a landslide” which appeared in Thursday edition of most of the newspapers as breaking news.
After holding an emergency meeting, DC told Himachal Vacation that no such tragic event happened on Rohtang and the traffic was operational throughout the night. “I’m in regular contact with border roads organization (BRO) officials. Work is on to make the paved highway at landslide prone stretch near Rahni Nullah. We are serious about the security of tourists. SDM Manali himself is taking stock of the situation at Rohtang pass,” he said.
He further added that some trucks had made it a routine to stop for some time near Rohtang and the sinking zone at Rahni Nullah was causing jams for few minutes but administration is bound to keep the traffic moving without freezing for more than half an hour. “Traffic on Manali-Leh highway has been steadily increasing. All heavy vehicles are being stopped near Manali and are allowed only at night time. Everything is going fine in Manali,” DC adds.
Some newspapers had published news on Thursday that around 1,500 tourists are stranded in Rohtang pass following a landslide at Rahni Nullah. They also wrote that tourist had to spend all night inside their vehicles between the Rohtang and Rahni Nullah. Kullu administration said the newspapers are spreading false rumors and are scaring tourists visiting Rohtang pass.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

After Manali hotels, camps pack in Sarchu

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: With summer season attracting thousands of tourists to Ladakh, the Manali-Leh highway has been busy once again. While summer season in Manali is close to being retarded, the midway camps at Sarchu have been jam packed with travellers advancing to Leh.
Sarchu, 222 km from Manali is the last Himachali hamlet on 474 km-long Manali-Leh highway where travellers spend a night before starting remaining adventurous journey to Leh. Though a small village is situated at Sarchu but no guest houses or hotels are available there. Camping is the only way to spend a night here. So far, eight travel agencies have established around 200 camps this year where around 500 tourists can stay comfortably. If number exceeds the limit, tourists are forced to sleep in their vehicles. Soon the Himachal tourism department is going to install their own camps for the convenience of passengers travelling by their buses.
Himachal Vacation’s Adventure Camps’ in-charge Bintu Gopal said he is getting good response from passers in all installed 30 camps. He said, “Leh tourist season has picked up a good speed. Manali-Leh highway being a most preferred route to reach Leh, hundreds of jeep safari, mountain biking and amateur adventure lovers are passing by the camps every day. Majority of tourists from abroad are staying here. They are booking camps in advance.”
If staying at camps situated in cold desert is a lifetime experience, it is not a cheap in any form. Owners were fetching charge of Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 from a camper which includes only a dinner and a breakfast. Besides, campers were facing difficulties booking a bed on the spot owing to advance booking by internet.
Rajesh Kumar, owner of Goldrop camps at Sarchu said slowly the season is shifting from Manali to Ladakh and it will last till onset of winters. “Scores of domestic tourists are reaching Sarchu every day and now foreigners too have started touring Ladakh. They start from Manali early in the morning and reach here late evening. Sarchu is a rest house for tourists exhausted by hilly journey where they get rejuvenated for further journey,” he said.

Friday, 24 June 2011

HP bans plying of non Himachali vehicles to Rohtang

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Plying of vehicles registered outside Himachal has been banned on ecologically fragile Manali-Rohtang highway from Saturday. The HP government has issued strict directions on Friday to reduce jam problems and minimize possibilities of accident on this congested highway.
Kullu deputy commissioner BM Nanta said the non HP vehicles would only be allowed to reach up to Kothi, 16 kilometers from Manali but their movement beyond this place has been restricted completely. “If any vehicle from outside HP wants to go beyond Rohtang pass (Lahaul-Spiti and Ladakh), he will have to get permission from SDM Manali. If anyone ignores the directions, he would be penalized,” DC said.
According to DC, the highway would remain closed for all vehicles including HP registered vehicles on every Tuesday like before.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

HPTDC starts bus service to Rohtang from Friday

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Given the traffic congestions on 52 km-long Manali-Rohtang highway, Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corp Ltd (HPTDC) has decided to ply its two buses on the route from today. Plying of two buses on this route will replace at least 30 cabs and thus minimize the pollution and traffic crisis on this fragile pass.
Camps at Sarchu on Manali-Leh highway

As the thousands of domestic and international tourists were complaining of frequent traffic jams on Manali-Rohtang highway, HPTDC is trying to heal their wounds with two 35-seater luxury buses. Earlier, a 27-seater bus was plying between the two destinations but it was inadequate to handle the tourist rush. To avoid the traffic problems, buses shall start from Manali at 8 am throughout the week except for Tuesday when Rohtang remains closed for civilians.
“Tourists were demanding for more luxurious buses on this route so we are starting two luxury bus services to Rohtang from Friday. Not only luxury but tourists will enjoy a beautiful ride at very low cost,” HPTDC transport wing in-charge Raghunath Sharma said. He further added that the department was going to start bus service on Manali-Leh route from July 1.
According to HPTDC sources at Manali, both the buses have been reserved in advance. Currently, HPTDC buses are serving on Manali, Delhi, Chandigarh, Shimla, Kalka and Dharamshala routes. To make the Manali-Leh journey adventurous and also convenient, HPTDC is installing camps at Sarchu for night stay.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Traffic jams turn journey to Rohtang a nightmare

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: It’s unbelievable even to think that the 52 km mountainous journey to Rohtang pass is consuming eight to ten precious hours of tourists due to the frequent traffic jams.
Around 4,000 heavy, medium and small vehicles are reaching Rohtang every day. Unavailability of parking space, haste to reach the mountain top first and inexperienced driving are causing hours long traffic jam on the poor Manali-Rohtang highway. Tourists, locals, military and needy, everyone was becoming victim to it. Now the jams are shading its negative impacts on the tourism. Most of the exhausted tourists are returning back from midway without reaching Rohtang.
Traffic Jam near Marhi below the Rohtang Pass
“Usually the uphill journey to Rohtang pass takes 2 hours and downhill journey takes 1.5 hours but sometime it is taking more than 10 hours these days,” said a taxi driver Yuvraj Bisht, adding that there are many reasons ignoring which were causing unbelievable jams. “Inadequate parking space is the main problem here. Everybody is forced to park his car on the highway. Tourists often stop at many places for photography or other reasons and park their vehicles on the highway which triggers kilometres long jam within few minutes” he said.
Annoyed by jams and returning back to Manali from midway, Sukhvinder Singh and Mamta Sidhu, tourists from Ludhiana told Himachal Vacation they had started at 5 am from Manali and they could cover only 33 km (Marhi) in 6 hours. “Driving on congested road to Rohtang is really terrible experience. My wife told me that we can get trapped in jams till late night at Rohtang pass, so we should return back to the town,” he adds. Singh said he had last visited Rohtang in 2001 when driving on the road was such a pleasant experience but now it has turned out to be a nightmare.
While few tourists were able to reach the picturesque Rohtang pass, many were satisfying themselves with little snow around Beas Nullah. Unable to reach their destination, they were helplessly gazing at the beautiful snow laden mountains at a distance of few kilometres from them. Thus the ride to Rohtang was now proving heart breaking journey for thousands of tourists.
Kullu police chief Abhishek Dular said the landslides between the highway were causing jams, otherwise, more than 80 policemen had been deployed for the smooth running of traffic. “Traffic congestion occurs when volume of traffic or modal split generates demand for space greater than the available road capacity, which is termed as saturation point. Our highways are carrying the traffic burden more than they are designed for. Even then we are trying our best to keep the traffic moving,” he said.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Kunzam pass partially opens for traffic

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Seven months after the Manali-Spiti highway was closed following a heavy snowfall at Kunzam pass, the highway has been partially opened for traffic on Tuesday.

Kunzam Pass

Perched at height of 15,050 feet, Kunzam pass, the gateway to Spiti valley of Himachal had received around 50 feet of snow this year. This pass is the only route to connect the Lahaul valley directly with Spiti division of the same district. Due to closure of the pass, residents of the district were forced to travel around 800 kilometres to reach the other end of same district covering Kinnaur, Shimla and Kullu districts.
The Manali-Koksar-Batal-Kaza (Spiti) route is one of the widely used adventurous routes of the world. Every year thousands of backpackers, mostly trekkers, mountain bikers and mountaineers use the route to reach Chandertal Lake, Kibber, Losar, Hansa, Komic and Chango. World famous monasteries like Kye, Tabo, Dhankar are also in Spiti valley of Lahaul-Spiti district. The panoramic Manali-Spiti highway provides a majestic view of Himachal’s largest glacier Bara Sigri. As the Rohtang pass was restored on May 28, around a month late than usual, the Kunzam pass too has been restored around two weeks later than usual due to record snowfall in past 20 years.
Kaza is a most preferred station of foreigners. The 412 km-long Shimla-Kaza highway remains open for traffic almost all the year but the main road to Kaza starts from Manali which remains closed for six months every year. This route being closed till late June this year, Spiti has bear huge loss.
“At least 20 feet high walls of snow are still protecting the edges of highway at Kunzam pass,” newly posted executive engineer at PWD Spiti division Vipin Kumar said who faced such working conditions for the first time. He said the highway has been restored for light vehicles while the maintenance work is on to hoist the green flag for heavy vehicles soon. “The adventure season in valley being at peak point, we had a pressure to clear the road as soon as possible. Road to Kaza was restored on June 9 but things were against us at Kunzam,” he said.
HRTC bus stand Spiti in-charge Anand Negi told Himachal Vacation the PWD Lahaul division has issued them a certificate of fitness of highway but Spiti division has lots of repair work to complete before issuing the certificate. “Highway is not fit even for light vehicles. Public work department is cutting the glaciers and landslides all the way between Gramphu and Batal. We cannot put life of passengers on danger. It may take 3-4 more days to declare the highway safe,” he adds.
In the meantime, hundreds of taxis with tourists have left for Spiti on Tuesday. According to travel agents and taxi operators, thousands of enquiries were pouring in asking them the status of Manali-Spiti road. Taxis were crossing the pass on their own risk.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Unable to find first-aid, tourist dies at Rohtang

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Dangerous road to Rohtang and unavailability of first-aid and ambulance proved fatal for a 6-year-old girl from Gurgaon who was going to Rohtang pass with her family in their private car on Sunday.
According to Amit Malik, tourist from Gurgaon, his family was happily moving towards Rohtang in their WagonR car when their car sustained a shock due to poor road condition and his child, who was glimpsing the views of nature, fell off the door. “Ayushi collided with stone and sustained injuries on her head at around 3 km before Rohtang. She got no first aid at the spot and we had to rush Manali. But it was too late,” he sobbed.
According to Manali DSP Shiv Chaudhary, parents of child had admitted her in a private hospital in Manali where she was declared dead. “They refused to carry out postmortem; so the body has been handed over to her parents,” he said.
Amit told that if first aid was given to his child, she could be saved but no ambulance or medical facility was available anywhere between Manali and Rohtang. “I was wandering for two hours to arrange for a vehicle to take the body home, but nobody helped us finding a way. Finally our hotel manager arranged a car for us,” he added.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Pre-monsoon rain brings cold in Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Warm clothes are back in Manali. The heavy pre-monsoon showers have brought down the temperature at a single stroke on Saturday.

Tourists enjoy in river Beas near Manali

High altitude peaks around Manali experienced nominal snowfall, while lower regions received heavy rain. With Manali-Leh highway receiving rainfall, the entire root has become slippery, bogey and dangerous. Mandi, Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti and most of the regions of the state experienced moderate rainfall providing relief from the scorching heat.
The continuous showers have given rise to the water level of river Beas and Parbati. However no alerts have been issued but tourists were hesitating riding the river rafts as the sludgy water was terrible.
Manali on Saturday recorded minimum temperature of 9 degree Celsius and maximum temperature was recorded at 19 degree Celsius. The weatherman has predicted more showers in coming 24 hours.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Ice caves in, engulf two yaks and a rider

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Two yaks and their owner fell into a chasm when glacier, they were walking on, caved in at Sagu Fall below Rohtang pass on Wednesday evening.
Owner of the yaks, Mangal was pulled out of the deep ditch with the help of ropes but the yaks are still missing. Fortunately, no tourists were riding the yaks at the time of incident. The case was not registered in police station but according to the witnesses at the spot, not only locals but tourists too helped them saving the victim. Mangal was still hoping that his yaks would be traced safely. Due to the closure of highway beyond Marhi, most of the tourists were enjoying snow at Sagu Fall.

Manali-Leh highway restored, danger continues

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Manali-Leh highway was restored for vehicular movement on Thursday morning (10 AM) but the frequent landslides are still posing threats to the travellers.

Landslides on highway between Manali and Rohtang

The road stretch between Marhi and Rahni Nullah has been sinking for past 10 months. All efforts to stop the landslides have yielded no results. Even then more than ten thousand tourists are driving on the highway putting their lives on danger. According to the general reserve engineering force (GREF) officials, they have widened the highway as much as possible but they were unable to find the permanent solution to stop the landslides. An official said a team of experts and engineers was going to visit the highway soon and they were confident that the team would find out a permanent solution for their most annoying problem.
The district administration is worried about any untoward incident here. Even then the movement of tourists cannot be stopped on the highway as it would adversely affect the tourism. All the departments have remained mute spectators.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

No flight tickets to Kullu till July

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Thousands of air travellers who are seeking flights to Kullu-Manali are unhappy with the limited flight services in the district. At present only two airlines are providing their services on Delhi-Kullu route but they have already been booked till July.
Kingfisher is the only airline that is operating daily flights between Delhi and Kullu. Air India is offering its services only four days a week. Only two 40-seather flights a day were not able to meet the demands of travellers in summer season. As a result, either most of the air travellers are cancelling their trips or they are forced to cover the 14-hours-long boring road trip between Delhi and Manali. Situation does not look good in next month too as the tickets are being sold in advance.
Air India in-charge at Kullu Airport Satish Kumar talked to Himachal Vacation that more and more people are preferring air travel than travelling by road every year. “Trend of air travelling is increasing in country. That’s why the seats for a month have already been booked. Now we are planning to operate an additional flight to Kullu,” he said. Travellers were purchasing a Volvo bus ticket from Delhi to Manali for Rs 1,000 and Air India was selling a t-class ticket for Rs 3,380. But the reservation was hold to waiting.

An air plane at Kullu airport

Kingfisher airline has been a hope of quick reservation on Delhi-Kullu airway but the unavailability of seats has left travellers annoyed. “One can get a seat in Kingfisher only if reservation by others is cancelled due to any reason,” Omkar Singh, owner of a ticket reservation agency said. He said the domestic travellers were declining such booking in Kingfisher as the ticket was costing for around Rs 12,000.
Being connected only by road and airways, Kullu-Manali is longing for strong air connectivity. Those who cannot bear the punishment of half day long boring road journey to Manali are now cancelling their trip. Manali hoteliers’ association chairman Gautam Nath Thakur said the unavailability and limited flight services to Kullu-Manali were adversely affecting the tourism industry. “There is a group of travellers who only prefer to travel by flights. Manali is missing such travellers. When Delhi-Kullu route has a demand of more sorties, then why airlines are not paying heed,” he added.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Rohtang pass will remain closed on Wednesday

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Rohtang highway has been closed for the vehicular movement on Wednesday.
As the tourists were crossing 300 meter sinking zone near Rahni Nullah to reach Rohtang pass without knowing the dangers associated with landslides, the highway was inviting a big tragedy. Tuesday is the ‘no traffic day’ on the highway but Border Roads Organization has demanded one more day for the proper maintenance of the landslide prone stretch to minimize the dangers to life. For this, organization officials had a meeting with district administration on Tuesday. Knowing the importance of quick action, they were granted one more day.
A dozer clears debris at sinking zone near Rahni Nullah below Rohtang pass
“Manali-Rohtang highway would remain closed for all vehicles on Wednesday,” organization officer commandant major Praveen Yerunkar told Himachal Vacation, adding that taking the advantage of zero traffic on highway, they would try to stop the flowing debris with every possible ways.
Manali SDM Balbir Thakur said the frequent landslides on the highway were posing threats to the travellers and a quick action was urgent. He adds, “We have requested all hoteliers, taxi operators, tourists and other travellers not to drive on Rohtang highway on Wednesday and co-operate the administration.

Monday, 13 June 2011

(Tourist Complaint/Grievance) Rash driving by inexperienced Volvo drivers on Delhi-Manali route

Himachal Vacation Travel News
...Complaint by a tourist, Mr Anil Bhatnagar (Noida)
I am a software engineer working as a senior manager in Noida.
I was looking to report serious issues about volvo buses to-fro Delhi and the extreme rashness of a particular driver.. also an accident involving High Adventure Tours' volvo 6465 yesterday.. (luckily I was not on that bus). 

When I booked thru coronation travels, I had no idea on the bus quality, etc. I had the image of Volvo being a good and very comfortable bus. While going from Delhi it was Bholenath, and on return it was booked on High Adventure tour's volvo. Bholenath Volvo bus was quite good- provided good service and driver was quite good.

However, on returning we found the bus from High Adventure Tours (UP 30 0787) in bad shape - it had broken front windscreen, no water on bus, non functional LCD, rude driver and very rude helper. The driver got 3-4 additional boys into the bus from some village, and they all slept in the aisle of the bus!!! It was like general compartment of a passenger train!!! The main driver was in middle age, he drove ok from hills to plains upto a toll tax point in Chandigarh road. Then he woke up the helper sleeping in aisle and gave the driving seat to him. This younger guy immediately drove almost into a divider first, then took wrong side and started driving very very fast, overtaking every bus, innova, and scorpios, all the while driving extremely fast right in front of on-coming traffic.
When I asked the mature driver to ask him to drive safely, the young guy started shouting saying this is my job, why are you bothered !! I told him it is my life buddy, and my kids are there, there is no way I will allow you to drive so rash. By God's grace, he got into sense and drove carefully till Panipat. Then in morning at about 5 am, he got a call that another of their bus met with an accident somewhere on the way (number 6465). He found it was badly damaged, etc., but then, as if possessed, he started driving extremely rash, driving almost into trucks and busses, and applying power brakes all the time. Driving fast is ok when there is not much traffic on road, but not driving at 120 or higher when there are so many other cars and trucks on road. He was as if playing a game. Now, I objected again. This time, he stopped the bus and started screaming. One another passenger also told him to drive safe. In the mean time the mature driver got up too, he started to abuse too, but then after a minute of pacifying, the mature one took driving. And he drove very sanely. When I pointed it out to him that this is how driving should be done--- he even apologized. Finally I decided to get off much earlier in Delhi and go by cab instead.

The younger driver was absolutely rash, and he even told me statements like - Gaadi to 40 km ki speed par bhi gir sakti hai, maut to bistar par bhi aa sakti hai.... all right buddy that does not mean you take a leap from Rohtang !!
...By Mr Anil Bhatnagar (Noida)

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Chandigarh-Manali national highway blocked for 7 hours

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANDI: The Chandigarh-Manali national highway was blocked following a landslide near Hanogi temple in Mandi on Sunday. More than five hundred vehicles remained stuck at both sides of the landslide for about seven hours.
According to a PWD official, the landslide was triggered by heavy rainfall on Saturday night and highway was opened for traffic at around 9 am on Sunday morning. The landslide had trapped around fifteen hundred tourists without food and accommodation. It’s raining frequently in Mandi and Kullu for a week and landslides have made it difficult to drive on the highway.

Rohtang turns ski resort

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI/ROHTANG: Situated at a height of 13,050 feet, Rohtang pass, the famous tourist spot of Manali has turned a ski resort as the slopes of Marhi, Rahni Nullah, Rohtang have left thousands of tourists mesmerized with winter games. Covered with 3 to 20 feet snow, the valley is inviting adventure lovers from around the world.

As soon as the highway to ski slopes was opened this week, it seemed that whole country carrying ski kits rushed to it to measure the snow first. Although Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institue of Mountaineering and Allied Sports is organizing ski courses here but private ski instructors and skiing kit lenders are minting money these days.
The extent of happiness of tourists can be estimated by the fact that when several tourists were asked about their views and feelings about the snow, Rohtang and Manali, no one had time to stop and talk. All had only one answer, "It's great to be here. Let us enjoy the snow and skiing."
Happy with the ongoing income and tourists' increasing trend towards winter games, a local ski instructor, Ravi Thakur, said that all his nine ski pairs had been rented out since morning and he believed that he would be able to earn his yearly income in next two months only. "Compared to previous years, the ski slopes of Rohtang have received adequate snow that will last till the end of August month. After that we would shift to behind the pass where tourists would certainly be able to see snow throughout the year which is a good sign for thousands of businessmen," he said merrily.
He further added, "We have formed a skiing association to stop some mean people for misleading the tourists.Tourists can learn and enjoy the tricks of skiing and snow boarding with a little money ranging between Rs 400 to Rs 1,000, depending on the time and their passion to learn. We had suffered a big loss last year but we are hopeful to compensate our all previous losses this year."
The white ground and snowcapped deodar trees amidst sky touching silvery white mountains presented a heart touching picturesque view where thousands of tourists in colourful dresses were looking like stars on white sky. Dense dark clouds have again covered the sky of Manali and tourists and tourism based businessmen are hoping for more snowfall at Rohtang.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

This village waits for their Godfather

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: This Kullu village considers itself orphaned as its master, caretaker, ideal and everything has left its occupants for a long time now. He is sick. And he cannot come here to meet his children who have been praying for his good health for five years.
Prini, a tiny hamlet near Manali where former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has a house, is missing him since his health troubled him and he was not capable of coming here. Though Vajpayee has no child, the entire village treats him as godfather. A small festival is organized in village every year on December 25 to mark his birthday. Vajpayee had an emotional bond with villagers and he gave everything he could donate to make Prini an ideal village. Earlier, he used to visit Prini in summers and spend most of his time chattering with the villagers. Now when many politicians and VIPs are visiting Kullu-Manali, villagers have a hope that their master would definitely come to meet his children.
Vajpayee's cottage in Prini near Manali
“We pray for his health every day. We are sure that this year we would celebrate his 88th birthday with him, not with his portrait. We are missing him a lot,” head of the village Thakur Dass said. He said that Vajpayee had threaded entire village together and he used to share their sorrows and happiness. Thakur said, “He has given what we demanded. We are connected with him telephonically but could not see him for past five years. I bet there will no such family in the village who do not pray for his good health.” Whether it is a child, elder or young, everyone comes to the Naag temple of the village with a common wish to bring back Vajpayee to the village.
Situated on the highway, the secluded cottage of Vajpayee once used to buzz with VIPs throughout the year. Now a couple of janitors are guarding the Vajpayee’s deserted home. However, Vajpayee didn’t enjoyed his summer holidays in this dream house situated at one of the best locations of the Manali but still the place is centre of attraction for tourists. “Bhaiya, Vajpayee ka ghar kahan hai (where is Vajpayee’s house)” is a common sentence which can be heard thousands of times every day from visitors here.
According to the villagers, Vajpayee’s adopted daughter, Namita Bhattacharya who had visited Prini last year would be visiting the village this year too and they shall convince her to bring Vajpayee here for at least one time.

Tourists ignore landslide to reach Rohtang

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Huge rocks and debris are continuously falling on the highway between Manali and Rohtang but lured by the picturesque Rohtang pass, tourists are driving fearlessly putting their lives on stake.
A car stuck in debris at sinking zone near Rohtang pass
Around 300 meters stretch of highway between Marhi and Rohtang is sinking rapidly and rocks are flying over the vehicles. Fearing accident, most of the tourists are avoiding reaching Rohtang but still many are crossing the ‘red zone’ with urge to see the famous pass. Not only tourists but residents of Lahaul-Spiti and Ladakh too are driving on the dangerous highway. Administration has advised people to take the decision to go beyond the sinking zone sensibly but still many are insisting to reach the hill top at any cost.
According to border roads organization official, stopping the entire mountain to flow downwards is impossible and they have no other option than to let it come on the highway itself. “As the pace of melting of snow has increased, the bogey debris is sliding fast. We are working 24X7 to keep the highway clear. Putting our lives on danger, we are trying to keep traffic moving,” second in command, major Vikram said to Himachal Vacation.

Summer soars, VIPs throng Manali
Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Bothered by the summer, VIPs from plains are thronging Manali to enjoy the cool hospitality of cold weather. Upendarjeet Kaur, daughter of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is enjoying the pleasant weather of Manali while wife of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, Payal has already reached here. According to the police sources, more VIPs have booked their schedule to spend some days in the pleasant weather of Manali.
Special Protection Group (SPG) has cordoned the town. According to sources, Upendarjeet would stay here in circuit house for at least five days. Then she will drive to Lahaul-Spiti and Ladakh via Rohtang pass. Meanwhile Payal is staying at her parent’s house in Seobag village near Kullu.

Ladakhi yak wool products beat goat and rabbit wool

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Shawls, mufflers, caps, jackets and socks made of Ladakhi yak wool are in great demand in Kullu. The consumption of yak wool handicrafts in local markets has gone almost double than the traditional goat and angora (rabbit) wools this year.
Yak is widely reared in Spiti and Ladakh region. The raw yak wool is very hard and rough but it becomes very soft when processed gently. Nowadays the raw material from Kullu is being sent to Haryana for processing at large scale. Depending upon design and handy work, a yak wool shawl is being sold for Rs 800 to Rs 2,500 which is very cheap than pashmina and Kinnuari shawls which costs Rs 7,000 and Rs 5,000 respectively. One can purchase a goat woollen shawl starting from Rs 250 but yak being a rare and strange animal, purchasers, especially tourists are purchasing its products curiously.
Tourists purchase yak wool products in Kullu
“Yak wool products have beaten all other traditional wools,” said OP Jaswal, in-charge of Bunkar Utpad Mela in Manali where homemade woolen products of self help groups and mahila mandals are being sold with 20 percent discount. Jaswal said that the exhibition and sale fair of woolen handicraft was organized by HP state handicrafts and handloom corporation. “Ministry of textile is paying women the transportation charges and shop rents. A group of eight women can sell their products for most of 15 days and then chance is given to next eight women. We are getting a good response everywhere and now we are going to organize such fairs in Delhi, Kolkata and other states,” he added.
As all handmade woollen products in the Bunkar Utpad Mela are genuine and with special discount of 20 percent, tourists are flocking to the stalls. The government was compensating the loss to women that they were offering to the purchasers.
Besides yak wool, Kullu typical shawls, Kinnauri shawls, angora products, white wool mufflers, jackets and socks have been reflecting a good response in the district.

Tuesday, the jam day in Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: If you are planning to visit Manali on a Tuesday, be prepared to face one of the worst traffic jams of the world. Here you would not be able to see the highway as vehicles on highways totally paused like they are parked.
Rohtang pass and other snow points being closed as per the direction of border roads organization, the entire traffic is redirected to the town every Tuesday. Except for the main Kullu-Manali and Manali-Solang highway, road links to all other tourist spots of the hill town are one way. District police, however, have deployed traffic police at every nook and corner but they are helpless to control the flood of nationwide vehicles. The arbitrary parking is another reason behind jams.
Traffic jam in Manali Mall Road
Manali is facing acute shortage of ample parking space for past two decades. Not only the town, but the problem is same at Old Manali, Hadimba Temple, Vashisht, Manikaran, Naggar, Solang Valley and all popular tourist places. Surprisingly, all parking of Manali town have capacity to accommodate maximum of 900 light vehicles and 250 heavy vehicles while more than 3,000 vehicles are entering the town everyday from outside states besides thousands of local vehicles.
“This is for the first time that the local sightseeing tour took 10 hours which usually takes only 3 hours. Vehicles were frozen on the highways,” a local taxi driver Pritam Chand said. He attributed jams to the ‘no traffic day’ on Rohtang highway.
Manali DSP (traffic) B Rathore said more than 5,000 vehicles are visiting the tourist spots everyday but police were doing their best to maintain the traffic flow. “Congested roads are the main problem behind traffic jams. Narrow roads are causing hour-long jams but we are making strategy to deal with the problem,” he added.

Snowfall statistics at Rohtang in past 20 years

Himachal Vacation Travel News

MANALI: Since neither the Snow Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE a unit of DRDO), nor any other organizations have instruments installed at 13,050 feet high Rohtang pass to measure the amount of snowfall, officials of 70RCC wing of Border Roads Organization (BRO) are the only to record the activities on this mighty pass. According to BRO Second-in-Command A Vikram Singh, who looks after the activities across Rohtang on Manali-Leh highway, the pass has received record snowfall in past two decades. He said some regions of Rohtang have received more than 50 feet of snow. However they kept the snow clearance operation continue throughout the year, that’s too with very modern machinery, they were unable to cut the mountains of 40 to 50 feet snow with more snow showering frequently. He said that there are full chances that snow at Rohtang would not melt till the next winter season. And if this happens, it would be another record in two decades. According to rough data maintained by Singh, the thickness of snow at Rohtang pass was as follows:
           Snowfall chart for past 20 years
                        Year       Snowfall (in feet)
1991       35
1992       28
1993       39
1994       24
1995       35
1996       14
1997       15
1998       34
1999       12
2000       21
2001       37
2002       28
2003       23
2004       21
2005       9.5
2006       16
   2007      12.5
2008       21
2009       25
2010       24
                         2011     More than 50 feet

Friday, 3 June 2011

Snowfall brings down temperature in HP

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Heavy snowfall in peaks around Manali and Lahaul-Spiti has brought down the temperature many notches below the normal for this time of season.
Manali on Friday recorded the minimum temperature of 11.9 degree Celsius while the maximum was 21 degree Celsius. Minimum temperature in Keylong, headquarter of Lahaul-Spiti district, was recorded at 6.5 degree Celsius and maximum temperature was 17.2 degree Celsius.
Traffic on Rohtang pass was disturbed for some hours following 20cm fresh snowfall. The adjacent peaks including Shetidhar, Deo Tibba, Hanuman Tibba, Makarved and Shikarved received around 1 feet of fresh snow. Hailstorms continued causing destruction to crops in Kullu district. Hail stones have destroyed apple, plum and peers crop in around 150 villages of Banjar subdivision in Kullu.
Rains, hailstorms and high velocity winds have interrupted the power supply in Kullu. More than 50 villages including Pangan, Badagran, Shegli, Shakeri, Mohila, Gumidhar, Shangchar are living in darkness for last 24 hours. Now after the incidents of cloudbursts in Chamba that killed a person and Mandi district where two cattle were drowned on wee hours of Tuesday, people living near cloudburst prone areas in Kullu are spending sleepless nights.
In the meantime, many lucky tourists witnessed fresh snowfall at Marhi. Rohtang pass in Manali is the only place in India where tourists can enjoy snowfall throughout the year. Himachal Vacation Tours and Travels have launched a special weather forecasting channel for the convenience of its clients to maximize their chances to see the fresh snowfall at Rohtang pass.

Tourists being duped by travel agents and hoteliers in Manali and Shimla

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI/SHIMLA: When money is the matter of prime concern, then who want to know the meaning of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’. Making ‘Money Devo Bhava’ their favourite quote, most of the travel agents, hoteliers and taxi drivers in Shimla, Manali and other tourist places of HP are making fool out of the innocent tourists.
“I booked through internet and my travel agent promised me to provide best services at nominal prices. He sold me a Delhi-Shimla-Manali-Delhi package for Rs 19,500.00. We were asked to provide a luxury room in hotel but the hotels were worst in the town. Our Volvo, food, taxi, everything was in worst condition. As per the rule when one of representative of travel agency came to collect the rest amount, he forcibly demanded Rs 10,000 more than the actual package price. He told us that government has raised the room and taxi rents. XXX XXX travel agency was registered with Himachal Tourism Department. I’ll advise all the travellers to check for the authenticity and facilities they are being given by the agents,” a tourist from New Delhi Ajit Agrawal said who was travelling with his wife.
Many tourists are complaining about the fraud and poor services given by the travel agencies and hotels. Even the taxi drivers are making them fool. Rafting, paragliding, skiing, warm clothing, they are duping them with sky high prices. According to police sources, most of the travel agencies were confirming bookings with very low prices and once the tourist reaches his destination, they are forced to pay extra money by showing them extra expenses made by them, rise in taxes, rents or similar things. Room given to many guests are more similar to ‘public sarai/dharamshala than the hotels/resorts.
Tourism Development Officer Balvir Thakur has advised tourists to ensure the authenticity of travel agency and ask for the services in written mail/letter before confirming the tour. “Most of the travel agents, hoteliers and even some big holiday making companies have been duping tourists. In such situation, contact at nearest tourist information centre or police station. If you pay for the service, you deserve that service. Tourists can also SMS their grievance to 9459100100 for police assistance anytime and anywhere in Himachal,” Thakur told Himachal Vacation.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Manali-Leh highway opens for traffic after 8 months
Himachal Vacation Travel News

MANALI/ LEH: Cutting through the 20 to 50 feet thick blanket of snow, Border Roads Organization, a wing of Indian Army, has restored the 474-km-long strategically important Manali-Leh highway after eight months on Wednesday (June 1).
Fresh view of Manali-Leh highway between snows at Baralacha-la. Pic:
Though the traffic on the highway had came to halt following a heavy snowfall on November 28 but it was officially closed for vehicular movement on October 15. Having received record snowfall in past 20 years, Baralacha-la (16,500ft) and Rohtang pass (13,050ft) had engulfed the major part of the highway. Both the pass being main barriers on highway, border roads organization had started the most crucial work to remove the snow making three detachments and each having five dozers and snow cutter machines in first week of March. Around half dozen vehicles from Manali crossed the Rohtang and Baralacha-la on Wednesday. Officially the highway will be announced safe for traffic on June 4.

“Mountains have given up before the courage of our men and machines,” organization commander AK Dixit told Himachal Vacation Travels and Adventure, adding, “This was a great experience for our teams. Heaps of snows were sky high and we had no idea that in which direction we should move to find highway. Not caring about frostbite and hypothermia, our men kept moving ahead facing all difficulties with head-up and succeeded in finding the way. We have learnt a lot this year.”

Dixit said the green signal to military vehicles, tankers and other vehicles will be given on June 6. “Military would be able to use the highway after June 6. A special strategy has been made to deal with the traffic problems on highway,” he said. According to organization, Baralacha-la has 20 to 25 feet of snow this time.

38 border roads task force, a Manali based wing of BRO is responsible for maintenance of 222-km-long Manali-Sarchu highway which is widely known as project Deepak. Highway between Sarchu and Leh which comes under supervision of project Himank was already cleared for traffic. The highway is famous for jeep safaris.
(With inputs from Discover Leh Ladakh - Packages)

Rohtang pass opens for tourists

Himachal Vacation Travel News

Manali: Good news for millions of tourists who have planned to visit Manali this summer. The picturesque Rohtang pass is ready to entertain them with 10 to 25 feet of silvery snow.
Protected by 30 feet high walls of snow, thrilling highway to Rohtang Pass
Border Roads Organization has made the highway up to Rohtang worth plying of tourist vehicles and waved the green flag on Tuesday evening. Organization commander AK Dixit said the 52 km highway between Manali and Rohtang has been made wide enough to drive two vehicles at a time and snow has been cleared from the parking area of Rohtang. “Earlier we had decided to let the tourists reach Rohtang from June 1 but due to traffic and security constraints the traffic would be allowed beyond Marhi from June 2 onwards. All preparations to welcome tourists to this dreamland would be completed on Wednesday,” Dixit told the Himachal Vacation.
Kullu SP Abhishek Dular said police would make a survey of highway on Wednesday and if everything goes right the tourists can see the Rohtang on Thursday.