Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Snowfall brings tourists’ crowd to Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Who cares about biting cold when it’s bringing hot revenue to the tourism industry with thousands of tourists spending generously on their tour to snow covered Manali. Tourists, mostly newlywed couples, are enjoying their first romance with snow and hoteliers are busy in counting the cash.
Tourists on Mall Road, Manali
According to data from green tax barrier, the gateway to Manali, number of tourist vehicles entering the town has doubled in a week. Majority of visitors are honeymooners. Though few of them had booked their tours in advance, but most of the tourists are heading to mountains after listening to the news of snowfall. Hoteliers, who were disappointed by lean tourism season between August and November, are now happy with rising business.
Hotel occupancy rate which was below 20 per cent before December 10 has now increased to 50 to 60 per cent and is likely to go beyond 90 per cent after December 23. According to general manager of hotel Beas View, MS Sharma, hotel industry had a bad time till November but the snowfall has brought smiles back on the faces. “Many honeymooners want to see snowfall. And high chances of snowfall are drawing more and more newlyweds to Manali. We are expecting house full after December 20,” he said.
Sant Ram, manager in hotel Mountain Top, said, “Many tourists are visiting Manali with unplanned itinerary which means they just wanted to see the snow. We are hoping to recover our losses of last four months in next three winter months. No doubt snow is the backbone of tourism industry of Manali.”
Tourists’ crowd in Manali has also cheered hundreds of restaurant owners and shopkeepers who were suffering the slowdown. “I was selling maximum of 15 shawls a month till November. Now this number has increased to 10 to 20 shawls a day. We are hoping for more snowfall in Manali,” said Mohammad Maqbool, a shawl seller.
Tourist spots like Rohtang, Beas Nullah, Marhi and Gulaba have been closed for tourists after heavy snowfall. Thousands of tourists are now enjoying skiing, snow scooter ride, horse riding and paragliding at Solang valley.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Shimla and Manali receive first snowfall of the season

Himachal Vacation Travel News
SHIMLA/ MANALI/ DHARAMSHALA: Tourists dancing on the rhythm of fresh snowfall on the famous Ridge of Shimla and The Mall Road of Manali, hoteliers attending unprecedented inquiry phone calls from tourists, traffic moving with snail’s pace on several highways and farmers thanking almighty, this is how Himachal celebrated its first snowfall of season in lower regions on Tuesday.

Tourists enjoy snowfall on Mall Road, Manali
Snowfall in Shimla that started at 8.15am lasted only for 15 minutes, but tourists enjoyed first snowfall of Manali town all the day. Earlier in the morning hundreds of tourists thronged Solang valley to see snowfall. Later at 12pm when it started snowing in Manali town, tourists returned back to their hotel rooms. They enjoyed snowfall right from their room’s window while some excited enthusiasts were spotted making snowmen, snowballs and trying to eat the snowflakes.

Surjit and Pratibha, newlywed couple from Chandigarh, said: “We celebrated Christmas in advance. We are feeling like being in Antarctica.” According to the couple, they had an idea from weather forecast that Manali may witness snowfall this week and their decision of being here proved blessing for them.

Another tourist from Chennai, Rajan Sivakumar, said he had never imagined that he would say goodbye to 2012 with such beautiful memories. “We have no time to have our lunch. It is the miracle of beauty of snowfall that we are feeling no cold. Beautiful snowflakes have filled our body with warmth. I wish if I could stay here for some more days.”
Shimla after snowfall
According to hoteliers, snowfall has rejuvenated the tourism industry of the state. “We were desperately waiting for this moment. Finally snow has descended down the mountains and touched the towns. Inquiries are pouring in from across the country. More snowfall would definitely make our Christmas and New Year memorable,” said Vivek Kapoor, an hotelier.
Dhauladhar mountain ranges in Dharamshala also experienced moderate snowfall. Triund, above McLeod Ganj and Kufri, famous tourist spot of Shimla, received 5cm fresh snow. Manali recorded 8cm snowfall while Rohtang and Solang received 40cm and 15cm fresh snow respectively. Movement of tourists was strictly prohibited beyond Palchan towards Gulaba. Jalori pass, which connects Kullu with Anni and Nirmad sub-divisions, received 25cm fresh snow and the highway was blocked for vehicles.
Administration was monitoring the movement of tourists in Manali as lured by snowfall usually they put themselves in trouble. “We are keeping a close watch on tourists and locals too. People are advised not to venture close to the isolated areas and drive carefully on slippery snow,” Manali sub-divisional magistrate Balbir Thakur said.
More snowfall in store for Himachal
SHIMLA: High hills of Himachal would experience more snowfall in next five days. According to a bulletin released by meteorological department, Shimla, high hills of Himachal would received heavy snowfall while mid and lower hills would receive rains with thunderstorms in next five days.

Upper Manali (near Nehru Kund) after fresh snowfall

The vigorous western disturbances generating from Mediterranean Sea and advancing over the Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir are showing their effects in Himachal Pradesh. High hills of the state have received up to 60cm snow in last 15 hours. Maximum temperature has decreased by 1 to 2 degrees Celsius in last 24 hours while no change was noticed in minimum temperature.
With minimum temperature of -2.9 degrees Celsius, Keylong was the coldest place in Himachal followed by Kalpa (-1.2) and Manali (2). Minimum temperature of Shimla, Sundernagar, Bhuntar, Dharamshala, Una, Mandi, Nahan, Palampur and Solan was settling at 3.6, 6.1, 8.4, 6.4, 8.6, 3.7, 8.3, 9 and 3.5 degrees Celsius respectively.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Snowfall rejuvenates tourism industry, sets slopes for skiing

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: First spell of snowfall in Manali has proved boon for the tourism industry as thousands of ski lovers are heading to the hill town in December. Meanwhile, Manali based Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (ABVIMAS) has announced skiing courses from January 11, 2013.
Skiing in Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India
Though the ski  slopes above Solang valley are covered with very thin layer of snow which is inadequate for professional skiing, but the skiers are heading towards Fatru and Gulaba to find the new slopes. Nowadays, hundreds of tourists carrying rented skis are reaching the various slopes to enjoy the skiing. After five months of rest, over one hundred local ski instructors are also back to their job.
“More snow on slopes means more fun and more money,” an instructor Sandeep Kumar said, adding that the snowfall has ensured pleasant time for skiing till June next year. “Over 50% of the tourists visiting Manali definitely try their hands on skiing. Our livelihood is totally dependent on snowfall.”
According to ABVIMAS director Randir Singh Salhuria, people from many states are already booking for the skiing courses that are beginning from January 11. “We are hoping for good snowfall in January when short and long term ski courses in various categories would be started at Solang. Special ski courses would be conducted between January 11 and 27, February 11 and 27, March 14 and 29. Six 14-days basic courses and two intermediate skiing courses would also be organized,” he said.
Apart from the fixed courses, institute organizes special ski course on request if a group of 20 or more skiers demands for it. Jawans of Indian Air Force, Indian Navy, NSS and other national institutions also learn the skiing techniques from the institute between January and April. Apart from the courses for newbie, the institute organizes a 21-days method of instruction skiing course which is specially designed for the instructors. Salhuria said that interested people from any part of the world can apply for any of the courses.
Harish Thakur, another ski instructor in Manali said, “The temperature is quite favourable for skiing. Inquiries are pouring in for ski courses. Our mountains have enough snow for skiing till the next spell of snowfall. Apart from generating sources of income for us, snow is thrilling the tourists.”

Friday, 30 November 2012

Tourists enjoy fresh snowfall in Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Hundreds of tourists on Thursday thronged Gulaba, 22km from Manali towards Rohtang pass, to enjoy the fresh snowfall. Though administration has advised tourists not to go beyond Kothi, but it was tourists’ craziness to see snow that they managed to reach here putting themselves in danger.
Gulaba is experiencing snowfall since Thursday morning and over 10cm fresh snow has accumulated here. As soon as tourists had news about snowfall, they made a beeline towards Rohtang pass. According to sources, many tourists tried to reach Rohtang pass but could not drive beyond Gulaba due to slippery snow on the highway. Finally, they made Gulaba their fun-spot for the day where they enjoyed every moment playing with snow.
“We had visited Rohtang pass on Wednesday but my children and wife insisted on going here one more time to see the fresh snowfall. However we cannot reach there but luckily got to see fresh snowfall,” a tourist from West Bengal, Harish Chattopadhyay, said. He said that it was too cold there and they were drenching soon so decided to come back only after couple of hours.
Nandini and Priyanshu, a newlywed couple from Patiala, said they got a surprise gift from Manali as fresh snowfall. “We had already planned to visit Rohtang pass but we had never imagined to see fresh flakes of snow showering from the sky. We have no regrets that we would not see Rohtang pass. Both of us have seen snowfall for the first time in our lives,” Nandini said.
Heavy snowfall around Manali has generated hopes to draw more tourists in coming days. According to hoteliers, now Manali has enough snow to entertain the tourists till New Year’s Eve and snow would definitely force tourists to visit Manali. “Snowfall has rejuvenated our tourism industry. Now hoteliers are ready to give a warm welcome to our guests in cold climate and beautiful backdrop of snow laden mountains. Hotel occupancy would definitely grow in December,” Manali hoteliers’association president Anup Thakur said.

28 panchayats of Lahaul-Spiti cut off from rest country

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI/ KEYLONG: With blocking of the Rohtang pass after heavy snowfall, 28 panchayats of Lahaul valley of Himachal has gone cut off from rest of the country on Thursday. Though, depending on weather conditions, Lahaul-Spiti district administration has decided to restore the highway in December, but the final decision rests with unpredictable weather of Rohtang pass.
Snowfall in Lahaul valley of Himachal
According to sources, there are strong possibilities to keep the Manali-Keylong (Lahaul) highway open despite heavy snowfall till the end of December. But, residents of Lahaul have already made all preparations to get locked inside cage of snow for next six months. The residents would not get vegetables to eat and newspaper to read until the highway is not opened in summer season next year. Helicopter would be the only source of transportation in emergency conditions.
Still there are many residents of Lahaul who had not imagined about heavy snowfall in November and they are residing outside the valley. Raju Telangba, resident of Telangbe village of Lahaul, said, “I was in Kullu for some important work and had planned to go back to village on Monday. I’m praying for sunny weather so that I could reach back home after restoration of the highway.”
Lahaul-Spiti deputy commissioner SS Guleria said Lahaul valley is ready to be cut off from rest of the country. “We have already made all arrangements to deal with the problems during winters. Essential commodities like medicines, ration, fuel and firewood have already been stocked. Weather of Lahaul, especially Rohtang pass is unpredictable; still we have requested Border Roads Organization (BRO) to clear the highway to Lahaul one more time,” he said.
According to sources, BRO has decided to clear snow from Manali-Keylong highway till the end of December in a move to help continue the boring of Rohtang tunnel from north portal in Lahaul. Also, the organization has continued working on maintenance of highway on Rohtang pass. According to an official, they shall keep clearing the internal highways of Lahaul even after heavy snowfall.

Heavy snowfall in Kullu-Manali, Lahaul-Spiti

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI/ KEYLONG: The real cold and snowy winter season has kicked off with heavy snowfall in Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti districts of Himachal on Thursday. The entire Lahaul valley is reeling under severe cold after heavy snowfall while the snow has descended down close to Manali town.
Fresh snowfall on mounatains near Manali in Himachal Pradesh
Bringing cheers to Manali tourism, Rohtang pass has received over 60cm fresh snows. Tourist spot Gulaba, near Manali, has received 10cm snow while snow accumulation at Marhi is over 30cm. Keylong, district headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti district has recorded 12cm fresh snow since morning. Baralacha-la in Lahaul experienced over 50cm snowfall. Meanwhile, the traffic on Manali-Keylong-Leh highway has come to complete standstill. Given the safety of the people, vehicles are not being allowed to go towards Rohtang pass.
“It’s snowing heavily here and weather is extremely cold,” resident of Jahlama village in Lahaul, Amar Dushi, said. He said fog has covered entire valley and movement of vehicular traffic has been stopped.
Breaking a long dry spell, lower parts of Kullu district received moderate showers of rain. The minimum temperatures of both the districts have risen by 1 to 2 degrees Celsius due to decrease in atmospheric pressure but the maximum temperature has decreased.
According to Lahaul-Spiti deputy commissioner SS Guleria, the entire Lahaul valley is receiving snowfall since Thursday morning. “Residents are advised not to venture close to isolated mountains,” he said.

Monday, 26 November 2012

1.5 lakh weddings in 3 days cheer hoteliers in Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: After three months of slowdown in tourism industry of Manali, over 1.5 lakh weddings in country only in three days have brought cheer to hoteliers who are getting good bookings for honeymoon tours for next month.
Planetary positions being perfect for auspicious marriages from Saturday to Monday, Delhi alone is hosting over 25 thousand marriages. According to sources, about 10 lakh couples from Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, UP, Rajasthan and Gujarat have tied knots in November and a large part of them is expected to visitManali for their honeymoon in December. Most of the office goers plan their honeymoon during Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Hoteliers are confident that all 20,018 rooms of 610 registered hotels would remain fully occupied for two weeks after December 20. According to them, nearly 300 couples are visiting Manali everyday and the number is increasing regularly. Though number of newlyweds visiting Manali in November is nearly 50% less than the last year but thousands of inquiries are pouring in for December.
Hoteliers are all set to woo the honeymooners with attractive offers and discounts. Besides advertisements, discounts up to 50% and many free services are being offered to attract more and more newlyweds. Marketing manager of hotel Chander Palace, Ankush Bhardwaj, said thousands of marriages are going to pay off in December as inquiries have gone up by 50%. “We are expecting full occupancy after December 20,” he said.
Ravi Thakur, owner of The Manali Lodge, said all the inquiries he gets are for honeymoon tours and most of the customers are from Delhi. “This time Kashmir is our competitor but marriages too are more than that in last years’. No doubt honeymoonseason would heal our wounds that we had in three months.”
According to travel agents, frequent snowfall in Manali is doing wonders on honeymooners who want to make their tour even romantic with fresh snow. “Honeymooners are asking for status of snowfall in Kashmir, Manali and Shimla. They ask for possibility of snowfall during their visit and most of them want to visit the hill station where possibilities are maximum,” a travel agent, Vicky Ahuja, said.
Meanwhile, hotels in Manali are preparing for bonfires, couple games and discos to entertain the expected honeymooners. Manali police are also preparing to tackle the increased traffic during Christmas and New Year week.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Manali-Leh highway officially closed till next summers, Admn to set up rescue posts from Nov 15

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Given the possibilities of heavy snowfall along Manali-Leh highway, Border Roads Organization (BRO) has decided to officiallyclose the highway from Sunday. Now the organization would not be responsible for safe movement of the traffic on this route, an official said.

Rohtang pass on Saturday experienced fresh snowfall while there are strong chances of more snowfall in coming days. As hundreds of people put their lives in danger after driving in inclement weather of Rohtang every year, BRO has announced to close the highway officially on Saturday.
Fresh snowfall on Rohtang mountain ranges near Manali
“Given the circumstances on Rohtang pass, the highway has been closed officially,” BRO commander at 38BRTF Colonel Yogesh Nair said, adding that BRO would continue the widening and metalling of the highway until snowfall would block the highway permanently. Now the administration would be responsible for all activities occurring on Manali-Rohtang highway.

Despite snowfall, Manali-Keylong highway remained operational all the day on Saturday. Hundreds of residents of Lahaul crossed Rohtang pass safely. Fearing early closure of highway, people of Lahaul are reaching their homes from all parts of the state while students and those residing outside the Lahaul valley are leaving the valley.

>>Rescue posts on both sides of Rohtang pass from November 15

Manali: After declaration of official closure of Rohtang pass, administration has decided to set up rescue posts on both sides of the Rohtang pass from November 15, an official said here on Saturday.

With weather conditions turning hostile on Rohtang pass, two rescue posts -- one at Marhi and another at Koksar -- would be installed for the safe movement of vehicles and pedestrians.

Manali based Atal Bihari Vajpayee institute of mountaineering and allied sports (ABVIMAS) installs posts in two phases from November 15 to December 15 and then March 15 to May 15 every year. Each post would include police, medical team, rescue experts and wireless operator. After setting up of the posts, travellers using this route would have to register themselves at both the posts to ensure safe passage.

Manali sub-divisional magistrate Balbir Thakur said that administration is keeping an eye on the activities of tourists and local residents on Rohtang pass. “Rescue posts would be set up for the convenience of public on November 15,” he said. Officials at posts have been trained to work wisely according to the situations. They may prevent any vehicle or person from crossing the pass for safety purpose.

>>BRO to continue working on Rohtang pass

Manali: Despite snowfall and sub-zero temperatures on Rohtang pass, BRO has decided to continue working on the Manali-Rohtang highway until heavy snowfall blocks it permanently.

BRO official said that their men and machinery are engaged in metalling on the highway with ultra modern technique so that it would have no effect of the extreme weather conditions even at 13,000 feet height. BRO has a target to widen the highway till 11 metres and are working between Marhi and Rohtang pass. However the highway has been declared officially closed for civilian vehicles, BRO would face the light snowfalls and cold weather here.

“Work has been completed at Baralacha-la (16,050 feet) and now we are working on Rohtang pass. Hard work of the jawans in extreme weather would provide pleasant journey to Rohtang to tourists and locals after winter season in over,” BRO commander Colonel Yogesh Nair said.

The landslides on Manali-Rohtang highway had made the journey miserable in last three years. The 51km journey between Manali and Rohtang was taking three to five hours. But the condition of highway has been improved and the journey is taking only one hour.

>>Snowfall brings down temperature, cheers tourists

Manali: The fresh snowfall in higher reaches of Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti has brought down the temperature on Saturday.

Rohtang pass has received 10cm fresh snow. The adjoining peaks at height of over 12,000 feet also experienced moderate snowfall in the evening. Hundreds of tourists thronged Rohtang to witness the fresh snowfall on Saturday. Snowfall has triggered cold waves in the lower regions.

The crystal clear sunny sky changed its colour suddenly Saturday afternoon. The dark clouds hovering over the mountains started showering snowflakes but lower hills didn’t experience the rain. Tourism industry of Manali is hoping for a good time ahead due to abundance of snow at Rohtang.

The minimum temperature in Manali was recorded 2 degrees Celsius and it was -2.1 degrees Celsius in Keylong, the district headquarter of Lahaul-Spiti. Maximum temperature in Keylong was only 8.8 degrees Celsius in last 24 hours.

Local meteorological department has alerted of entering western disturbances in western Himalayas after November 13.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Miraculous ice Shiva lingam draws tourists to Anjani Mahadev temple

Himachal Vacation Travels News
MANALI: Those devotees of lord Shiva who could not visit Amarnath this year can have a ‘darshan’ of ice lingam at Anjani Mahadev temple near Solang in Manali. The ice lingam here has started forming its shape due to the instant freezing of seeping water in extremely cold climate.
Ice Shiva lingam at Anjani Mahadev temple near Solang
in Manali
Hundreds of devotees including tourists have thronged Anjani Mahadev temple to see the miracle of the nature. The night temperature here has dropped below the freezing point. Lingam gets its shape after drops of water from mountain fall on earth and freeze instantly. Ice lingam would continue rising till March and would attain its height upto 25 feet. According to nearby villagers, the lingam was discovered by a saint some 25 years back and has a same importance for them as has the Amarnath lingam.
“The mysterious lingam was so close to us but it remained out of our sight for years. Now when it has been discovered, it is the most divine place for us and thousands of tourists who visit this temple,” resident of Burua village, Hira Lal, said. According to him, the saint with the help of villagers has built a small temple here and is the only Shiva temple of nine villages of upper Manali. “We celebrate the unique Shivaratri here after pouring milk and Gangajal over the ice lingam,” he added.

Unlike Amarnath where devotees climb for hours, Anjani Mahadev is accessible only after 2km trek from Solang, 13km from Manali. Devotees may see lingam till mid April and then it melts away. Anjani Mahadev has become a popular tourist destination for thousands of tourists. “We got to know only after reaching Manali that Solang has an ice lingam similar to that in Amarnath and could not resist ourselves reaching here. It is amazing, beautiful and divine,” a tourist from Delhi, Vijay Shukla, said.
As the ice lingam is attracting thousands of tourists every year, dozens of villagers are earning good money after providing horse ride between Solang and Anjani Mahadev temple. Now the temple has been included in must see tourist spots of the Manali while villagers can be seen praying lingam all the day. The place is slowly being renowned as “chhota Amarnath”.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Lord Rama’s chariot rolls out, weeklong Kullu Dussehra begins

KULLU: With ending of Dussehra festival across the country on Vijayadashmi after burning effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnath, a weeklong historic Dussehra has begun in Kullu with rolling out of the chariot of Raghunath (lord Rama) to the Dhalpur Dussehra ground on Wednesday. All other deities paid their obeisance to lord Raghunath who is the presiding deity of the festivity.
Kullu Dussehra
Palanquins of over 225 deities along with their thousands of followers are taking part in the festivity. Lakhs of people including tourists flocked to pull the chariot as they have an immense belief that pulling or just touching the holy ropes brings them prosperity and blessings. Police had a tough time negotiating with the devotees imbued with devotion. According to the tradition, palanquin of Goddess Hadimba and Bijli Mahadev scattered the crowd and made way for chariot. Chariot would rest in the lower ground till the seventh day when it would be again wheeled to the bank of river Beas where some shrubs would be burnt as symbol of burning of the Lanka. But unlike other places, no effigies are burnt here.
Thousands of domestic and international tourists throng Kullu Dussehra to witness the unique blend of culture, tradition and devotion. A group of students from England had reached here for research and capture the Dussehra. The group leader, Chadwick, said, “We are staying in Shimla but we reached here to see the Dussehra. Our experience is unexplainable. Students have got lots to explore and understand the Indian culture.”
Ramanuj Rai, another tourist from Karnataka said he had never seen so many deities together ever in his life. “People here have strong faith in their own deity but respect the others. The modernization has no effect on the cultural faith of hill people. Most of the palanquins are identical but I’m trying to capture as much as I can in my camera,” he added.
Royal family of Kullu
Royal family of Kullu -- Maheshwar Singh and family -- was dressed in their traditional royal attire to perform the rituals associated with the Dussehra. Every year, palanquins of hundreds of deities are brought from different parts of state and they stay in camp around the festival place for seven days which remains the attraction for devotees and tourists.
Also, the cultural programs started at Lal Chand Prarthi Kala Kendra of Kullu where several artists from various countries would perform for seven days. For its uniqueness, Kullu Dussehra was declared an international festival in 1972. Dussehra festival, which conveys the message of victory of good over evil, is marked by gathering of deities, their prayers, processions and cultural programs, not by burning effigies.
Dussehra celebrations in Kullu started in the year of 1661 during the reign of the then ruler Raja Jagat Singh. Since then, idols of hundreds of deities from different parts of Kullu gather here and celebrate for a week. Dussehra is an important event for local residents as they do lots of shopping to tackle the winters.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

October brings tourist crowd to Manali

MANALI: With all parking spaces of Manali jam packed with tourist vehicles, hotel occupancy risen to 70% and all tourist spots crowded with tourists, October has brought with it smiles on faces of hoteliers and thousands of locals linked to the tourism industry.

Tourists at Solang valley (Solangnala), Manali

Thousands of newlyweds and students from school colleges have thronged Manali. According to data from green tax barrier, the gateway to Manali, number of tourist vehicles entering Manali has doubled only in last three days. The similar crowd of tourists is expected to remain till Diwali festival while preparations are on to host even more tourists during Dussehra festivity week starting from October 24 when occupancy rate is likely to reach 100%.
Solang, Rohtang, Naggar, Manikaran, Hadimba temple, Vashisht and Old Manali, tourists have thronged all tourist spots of the district. Tourists are having hard time while finding space to park their car. “We had planned to visit Manali for its pleasant weather and calm environment. But, we were welcomed by huge crowd,” visitor from Allahabad, Manish Tiwari, said. He said he had planned his tour in October after learning that it would be the off-season in Himachal.
Tourists are facing unexpected traffic jams on way to Rohtang, Hadimba temple and Vashisht which is spoiling their fun. Searching for a space for parking is another challenge for tourists visiting Manali in their own cars. Long queues of tourists are being witnessed at rafting and paragliding booking counters.
Many hotels in Manali are fully occupied and tourists are not getting room in hotel of their choice. Harish and his wife Madhuri from New Delhi were told by their travel agent that this is off-season in Manali and they would easily get hotel of their choice but reality was quite different. “The hotel we wanted to stay in was booked for many days and we had to book another one,” Harish said.
Thousands of children from various schools and colleges of the country have reached Manali on their educational tours while many more are on their way. Most of the students are staying in camps outside the town. Shopkeepers too are cheering the crowded markets.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

River Beas gets crowded with rafting enthusiasts

MANALI: With colourful rafts making beeline on white waters of river Beas, the adventure of rafting in cold waters is attracting thousands of tourists every day to Kullu.
Tourists have thronged Babeli and Pirdi, the river rafting points of Kullu, to enjoy taste the fun of this thrilling game. Over 150 local youths are providing rafting services to tourists and all of them are busy. A long dry spell and pleasant sunny days have provided an opportunity for both tourists and service providers to cash the moment.
River rafting in river Beas in Kullu Manali
Owner of Evergreen Adventure, Thakur Chand, said that hundreds of tourists are landing at Babeli to enjoy the rafting. “Most of our customers are students from various states who are on their educational tours to Manali. Also, number of couples is increasing gradually,” he said.
The water level in river Beas has decreased and tourists of all age groups are enjoying rafting without any fear. A sudden rise in number of adventure enthusiasts have cheered the local youths. “Beas is crowded with rafts after three months. All the registered rafts are doing brisk business,” Biru, another raft owner said.
Though high peaks have little snow but skiing slopes of Rohtang have no snow for skiing. Adventure loving tourists are heading to Manali for paragliding and river rafting.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Manali celebrates World Tourism Day

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) and Manali Hoteliers’ Association marked the World Tourism Day in Manali and accorded a warm welcome to tourists arriving Manali.

Tourists were given warm welcome on occasion of World Tourism Day in Manali
Tourists reaching Kullu-Manali by HPTDC buses were welcomed with flowers and traditional Himachali caps. Kulluvi folk dance was also organized to cheer them. Tourists enjoyed the warm hospitality and joined the folk dance.
“We were surprised to see our welcome as we were not told about this arrangement. We are owed by Himachal tourism for this love and affection,” Rohit Chatterjee, a tourist from Kolkata, said.
HPTDC also greeted the tourists staying in its all hotels and cottages with flowers and Himachali caps. All were provided with breakfast for no cost.

Two months after ban, paragliding picks up pace in Manali

MANALI: Crystal clear sky on the top, deodar trees below the legs, snowcapped mountains all around and colourful paragliders flying with light blows of air, tourists, getting huge wings, are enjoying each moment in Solang valley near Manali.
Paragliding at Solang Valley of Manali
pic: http://himachalvacation.com
Paragliding at Solang after two months of ban is picking up pace with adventure enthusiasts making beeline to the valley. The day temperature being quite good for aero sports, paragliding is thrilling tourists as pilots are getting good elevation with warm air. Over 100 trained pilots are conducting paragliding at Solang valley. Tourists are being charged Rs 500, 900 and 1,500 for low, medium and high flies respectively.
A paraglider, Ganga Ram Thakur, said the government had imposed ban of paragliding in monsoon season and they suffered big losses in two months. He adds, “We are having good start in September. Very few tourists dare to fly in winters after December, so we’ll have to compensate the losses of monsoon and earn for winters before it snows here.”
Many enthusiasts are reaching here for short term paragliding learning courses. According to instructors, this is the best time for parasailing as combination of hot and cold air helps pilot in achieving the good elevation. Vijay Kumar, an instructor, said tourists are reaching here for three to 10 days paragliding learning courses while many have booked the courses in advance. “Most of the people want to learn all techniques of paragliding in a single day which is not possible. They don’t have much time in hand. So, three to five days courses are most popular among them,” he added.
Most of the tourists go for low fly which hardly lasts for five minutes but its fascination force them to experience the high fly too. Local pilots say many fascinated tourists go for multi flies in a single day and few of them visit them even on the second day. Paragliding has become an important part of the tourism of Manali that a large part of tourists ask for the status of this game before planning their visit to Manali.

180 elderly foreign nationals redefine sports tourism in India by marathons

SHIMLA: A group of around 180 French, British, Belgium and Spanish nationals aging between 40 and 75 are organizing marathons in different parts of India and formulating a new definition of tourism while spreading message that age is not a bar for any sport.
Marathon participants enjoy Himachali folk dance at Naggar
pic: http://himachalvacation.com
After successful organization of marathon in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Shimla, the group of elderly runners reached Manali on Monday. The group which constitutes both males and females stunned everybody with covering steep 22-km distance between Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports in Manali and Naggar in only 2 hours.
The marathon was held in two phases -- running and walking. 150 elderly took part in 22-km-long running marathon between Manali and Naggar while 30 participants simply walked 10km from Sajla to Naggar. Everyone was surprised to see the oldies running like youths. Nadyata won the marathon in female category while Partry came first among the men who covered distance in only 1hour 55mins. In walkers’ category, 64 year-old Maris did it first.
Manali marathon winners (pic: http://himachalvacation.com)
The participants-cum-tourists after completion of the marathon were honored with Kulluvi caps and given warm welcome with traditional Himachali folk dance. A runner Sylvie said, “We loved calm atmosphere of the Himachal and its beautiful people. Human being has become so dependent on machines even to cover small distances. Walking and running make human fit both physically and mentally.”
France based Sports Performance Development Organization is organizing the marathon in various countries to give tourism a new definition. The purpose of the marathon is to discover the world through sports where age should not be a bar. Serene Holidays and Great Escape Routes are the Indian supporters for the marathons. The team would now move to Dharamshala for their last marathon, before leaving the India.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Snowfall in Himachal brings down temperature

SHIMLA/MANALI: High and mid hills of Himachal seem to have entered the chilling winter season after hills up to 12,000 feet including Rohtang pass and Kunzum pass experiencing moderate snowfall since last 48 hours.
Fresh snowfall on Rohtang ranges near Manali
Announcing the arrival of winters, Rohtang pass near Manali witnessed first snowfall of the season.  The pass received 15cm fresh snow while Kunzum pass on Manali-Spiti highway witnessed 25cm fresh snow. Hills above 15,000 feet have received more than 30cm fresh snow while the snowfall is still continuing on Western Himalaya regions in Himachal.
Temperature on high hills has plunged below the freezing point while a fall of 2 to 3 degrees Celsius was recorded in the maximum and minimum temperature of the state. Kalpa in Kinnaur recorded the minimum temperature of 9.4 degrees Celsius. Manali, Keylong, Shimla and Dharamshala recorded minimum temperature at 10, 11, 14.6 and 18 degrees Celsius respectively.
Snow has descended very close to the inhabited villages in Lahaul valley. The Manali-Leh highway remained blocked for several hours after fresh snow made traffic movement difficult over the Rohtang pass. Surprisingly, residents in the whole valley, who are concerned about the thousands of tonnes of seed potatoes which are ready to take out of the valley, are resorting to fire to escape the biting cold. Their fire places are spewing smoke a month earlier than the usual.
Ramesh Tughi, a resident of Lapshak village, told Himachal Vacation over the phone that temperature is close to freezing point and cold winds are forcing residents to stay indoors. “All the peaks around our valley are experiencing heavy snowfall since Sunday night. We are feeling like spending the winters of December month,” he said.
Another resident of Kalpa in Kinnaur, Balbir Negi, said cold has swept entire region with temperature plunging drastically in last 24 hours. “We spent a very cold night and even the day temperature is abnormally very low. No doubt, we would get to see snow very soon this year,” he added.
According to Shimla meteorological department director Manmohan Singh, the southwest monsoon remained vigorous over the state in last 24 hours and caused very heavy rain and moderate snowfall in isolated parts of the state. “Western Disturbances over J&K and neighbouring states are interacting with easterly winds over western Himalayas and causing change in weather. The similar conditions would continue for five more days,” he said.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Women motor-bikers outdrive men on Himalayas

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI/ LEH: Men vying for the best biker titles by riding their bikes on the roughest terrains of the Himalayas seem to be losing to women as hundreds of female bikers from across the world are reaching here to prove their mettle. All available roads have been trampled under the bikes ridden by women but they are intended to do what men cannot do.
Moksha Jetley with her machine
ndia, Canada, USA, Germany, Italy, France… adventure enthusiast women from every corner of the world are flying to Kullu to organize their high altitude motorbike expeditions. Women bikers are searching if any motorable road has not yet seen any female. Most of the women are newbie while very few of them are professional, still they are testing their limits on 15,000 to 18,400 feet high roads. Many women are joining men in their tours and proving their riding skills. Not only that, some women riding their bikes alone in terrains of Manali-Leh highway want to go beyond their limits.
“I’m loving riding my bike on Himalayas. This is difficult but rewarding,” a well known Canadian celebrity Lia Grimanis informed Himachal Vacation Travels and Adventure over phone from Nubra Valley of Ladakh. Lia has an experience of biking on ice in Norway when temperature was -55 degrees Celsius. “I’ll ask all women in my country to try their luck on Manali-Leh highway once in their life.”

Motor-bikers on Manali-Leh highway

There are no races or rallies, but groups of women motor-bikers can frequently be seen on Manali-Leh highway. This is for the first time that Royal Enfields are not easily available on rent in Manali. Motorbikes are being hired from outside the state. 500CC bike, long leather shoes, windcheater, helmet and a bunch of long hairs peeping out of the helmet, the Himalayan roads are thundering with presence of adventurous housewives.
Unfortunately, negligible numbers of women from India are daring to come out of the homes and compete men on roads. “Our culture and traditional thoughts doesn’t allow women to ride bikes like men do,” India’s first professional motor-biker Moksha Jetley rues, who want to see more Indian female bikers riding on off-roads. “Hundreds of women are riding their bikes on Manali-Leh, Shimla-Spiti, Leh-Zanskar, Manali-Srinagar highways. But, I hardly meet any Indian. Yes, some of our women have laid the foundation stone of a new era but I was never encouraged for my biking passion by anybody in my country, though I’m encouraging my Indian sisters,” she added.
Thrill of biking on Manali-Leh highway is drawing more and more women every year. Though a biking tour is expensive than the family holiday tour, but women, who have tasted the fun of biking, are ready to pay any cost to live their dreams.
Moksha has ridden her motorbike from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, Tibet, Napal and most of the toughest roads of the Himalayas. She has been inspiring Indian women to come out of their boundaries and live their dreams. She is launching a women motor-biking expedition in November where her slogan would be ‘proud to be a woman’. “Women can do anything. Why only cricket. We can beat men in all the fields. Women have been forced to stay indoors for centuries, but this is the time for men to worry,” she said.