Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Snowfall in HP, cold wave continues

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: High altitude peaks of Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti, Chamba and Kinnaur experienced moderate snowfall on Tuesday bringing down the temperature in mid and lower hills.
Manali town too witnessed light snowflakes during evening time. Meteorological department Shimla has forecast of more snowfall in the state on February 3 and 4. However, it has prediction of clear sky on Wednesday and Thursday. People in Manali and Lahaul-Spiti, where taps and water sources are frozen for over three weeks, are worried with dark clouds hovering over the hills.
Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti had a cold night on Monday at minus 14.9 degrees Celsius. Kalpa in Kinnaur recorded lowest temperature of minus 5.5 degrees Celsius and it was minus 1.8 in Manali. Shimla, Dharamshala, Solan and Mandi recorded minimum temperatures of 1.3, 4.7, -0.6 and 6.6 degrees Celsius. Himachal has recorded an increase of 1 to 2 degrees Celsius in maximum temperature. Una was hottest place in the state at 25.2 degrees Celsius.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Alert after heavy snowfall in Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
Manali: An alert has been sounded after heavy snowfall in Manali on Sunday. Police have advised people to avoid unnecessary movement and stay at home while tourists are not allowed to go beyond the Manali city.
Traffic movement has been stopped beyond Patlikuhal, 20 km before Manali, to avoid any accidents due to slippery road. The bye-pass highway to Manali has already been blocked by snow. People are forced to walk as vehicles are not able to move on slush. However, some four-wheel drive vehicles had connected Manali with Kullu and other parts of the state. It was a big relief for people that power supply was not interrupted the whole day.

Traffic jam after heavy snowfall in Manali

Manali deputy superintendent of police Shamsher Singh said police is monitoring the movement of tourists and they are not allowed to go near isolated areas. “It’s snowing heavily here and we don’t want to take any risk. Tourist vehicle’s movement has been confined to city only. Local residents too are advised to stay at home,” he said.
Manali has received 10 inch fresh snow. Solang ski slopes that were already covered with 2 feet of snow have received 1.5 feet more fresh snow. With about 3 feet more snow, Rohtang pass is covered with more than 10 feet snow.
Lahaul-Spiti district, which has already cut off from the country, too, is experiencing heavy snowfall since morning. Keylong has received 15 inch fresh snow. Udaipur and Koksar recorded 8 and 24 inch fresh snowfall on Sunday.
Most of the shops in market remained closed for whole day and other shopkeepers were waiting for customers whole the day. Snowfall was still continued and according to Met department, Monday would witness more snowfall.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Manali woos tourists with “Backcountry Skiing” for the first time

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Gone are the days when people used to watch insane sportspersons doing backcountry skiing on wild mountains at far flung areas, as with luring snowy jungles and slopes; Manali is introducing itself as one of the best backcountry skiing region in the world.
Backcountry skiing in Manali mountains
India has some ski slopes in Auli, Gulmarg, Kufri and Manali where newbie and other skiers can enjoy the skiing on controlled atmosphere but backcountry skiing is completely different which is done on unpatrolled and unmarked areas, mostly between the trees. Till now, backcountry skiing was the part of winter games only in Canada, Europe and Germany, but now the jungles of Manali are witnessing the scrum of domestic and international daring skiers.
“Manali, where most of the snowy area with good slopes is under tree cover, is best location for those who want to test their degree of fear along with viewing of the breathtaking views of untouched snow covered woods,” backcountry skiing promoter in Manali Kapil Negi said. “I and my friends have been exploring every inch of the snow covered mountains in Manali for last four years and every time we get the better and challenging slope,” he said.

Backcountry skiing in Manali

Pack the luggage, tight your ski shoes, wear a windcheater and pick up the skis and start the uphill journey on untouched snows to gain good elevation according to your courage. Most of the people in India do only alpine and cross country style skiing on slopes under the supervision of experts but some adventure enthusiasts are taking advantage of the abundance of snow in wilderness. Several Asians too were visiting Canada and European countries for this unique game, but some tourists who have already scaled the mountains in Manali are fascinated by its slopes and wild beauty.
“I had never imagined of such unforgettable days in Manali mountains in winters with backcountry skiing with my new local friends,” an Italian skier Aciscolo said who is visiting Manali for the second time. “Manali has all types of slopes for off-piste (backcountry) skiing that can give tough challenge to those in Europe. I’m planning to visit some more slopes with my friends next winter.”
Backcountry skiing enthusiasts in Manali
Local youths who have been earning worldwide fame with their skiing skills said very few tourists know about the backcountry skiing in India and government should promote this game to draw more tourists to the country. “Almost all foreign tourists do off-piste heli-skiing in Himachal. They do not know about real backcountry fun. I’ve compared our domestic slopes with the European’s which are second to none,” said Ravi Thakur, an adventure enthusiast from Manali who is doing backcountry skiing here after doing it in Europe.
Backcountry skiing is famous for its all-purpose qualities. Generally, it consists of trekking, wildlife, camping, photography and skiing. Depending on the weather conditions, backcountry skiing could last for many days but special care it need to be taken from the hidden dangers associated with snow and mountains.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Manali in first phase of ice-age, records -7 degrees C

Himachal Vacation Travel News
Manali: Manali on Tuesday woke up to the crystal valley, with all taps, brooks, sewers, roads, leaves, trees and even the toilet plushing systems completely frozen and icicles handing everywhere.
Icicles suspend from a roof in Manali
At minus 7 degrees Celsius, Manali had the coldest night of this year. Everything that was exposed to the air was turned ice. Even the internal and underground water lines have given up. Kitchen taps, geysers and showers had no water. Similar was the condition of toilet plush that was frozen and running out of water. Leaves and flowers on seasonal plants turned rock hard. It was the frozen frosty highway that triggered main problems till afternoon.
 “It was looking like vehicles are playing ice skating on road and their players (drivers) have no control over their machine,” owner of a hotel near highway, Ramesh Thakur said, who was enjoying the moment. “Vehicles were moving hardly with speed of 2 kmph and jammed the highway. The frustrating driving experience continued until ice on road was melted partially by sun at around 2pm,” he said.
Vehicles on frosty road in Manali
Several people and hoteliers complained that their water pipes were cracked with cold. A local resident Shally Thakur said, “The day is over but taps are still frozen. We could not bath and had to bring water from another source. The day was extremely cold.”
As the whole valley was converted into an ice-skating rink, people were finding difficulty walking everywhere. Unable to make balance, people collapsed hundreds of times and many sustained injuries.
It was the result of clear sky during night after five days of snowfall that temperature fell intensely. Surprisingly, the maximum temperature during last 24 hours was only 2.6 degrees Celsius. On Tuesday evening, some clouds were hovering over the sky and so the slight increase in temperature is likely in next 24 hours.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Manali Winter Carnival kicks off with great fervour

Himachal Vacation Travel News

Manali: With over 50 cultural troupes from across the country showcased their culture, the first national level Manali Winter Carnival kicked off after prayers at Hadimba temple on Monday.
Manali Winter Carnival
Braving cold and snow, thousands of people witnessed the unique blend of art, culture and modernization on the Mall Road. Serene atmosphere of hill town is echoing with the Himachali, Gujarati, Bengali, Maharashtrian and other traditional drum beats. Carnival, which was supposed to begin early morning was shown green signal at 2pm due to heavy snowfall. As road links to Manali were blocked by snow till noon, some troupes could not participate in the opening ceremony. In the meantime, national level skiing competition has begun at Solang ski slopes near Manali.
“The carnival of dance, music, fun, culture and games has began in Manali,” Kullu deputy commissioner BM Nanta who is also the president of Winter Carnival organizing committee said, adding that apart from dozens of local artists, 26 teams from different regions are participating this year. “Weather has now turned favourable and participants are dying to present their best performance,” he added.

Manali Winter Carnival

Hundreds of tourists too enjoyed the blend of cultures in Manali. A tourist from New Delhi Sumesh Gupta said, “We usually cheer the western culture and ignore our colourful, unique and beautiful culture. We should praise the efforts of Winter Carnival to bring together all cultures of our country at a same place. Snowfall is an added attraction for us.”
Organized on the pattern of Goa, Manali Winter Carnival is being celebrated since 1977 during the off-season in winters to attract tourists. Carnival organizers claim that it triggers a surge in tourist arrival and helps increasing the economy of Manali.
Carnival would continue for five days at Manu Rangshala. People would enjoy the folk dances, western dances, fashion shows, singing competitions, laughter shows, men’s personality, winter queen contests and variety of other programs. Meanwhile, winter games lovers would enjoy junior and senior skiing competitions at Solang valley.
State chief minister PK Dhumal was to inaugurate the carnival and winter games but due to inclement weather, his chopper could not take off from Shimla.

Some more pics:
Manali Winter Carnival

Manali Winter Carnival

Manali Winter Carnival

Manali Winter Carnival

Friday, 6 January 2012

Snowfall rejuvenates tourism in Himachal

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Good amount of snowfall has not only rejuvenated the glaciers of Himachal, but also proved beneficial for tourism industry of the state, with scores of tourists heading to hill state.
A tourist finding best shot near Manali
Thousands of tourists, mostly couples are expected to visit Manali, Shimla, Dalhousie and Dharamshala in next few days. Also, hundreds of ski enthusiasts are reaching Manali to learn basic techniques of ski this month. Private ski instructors have offered many courses while Atal Bihari Vajpayee institute of mountaineering and allied sports (ABVIMAS) is going to start short and long term ski courses from Wednesday.
“This is the best time to visit Manali when possibility to see fresh snowfall is very high, and tourists are reaching here to capture the romantic moments,” a travel agent in Manali, Roop Chand Negi said, adding, “Tourists are inquiring about the places in Himachal which have experienced fresh snowfall. Shimla and Manali are their first choice.”
Travel agents in Delhi said at least five thousand inquiries per day are coming in to visit Shimla and Manali in January and February. Owner of Himalayan holidays Ritesh Mehta said, “Delhites are most excited about the snowfall in Himachal. Honeymooners are going to warm up the winter tourism in Himachal. Travel agents are having good response”
Bringing cheer among locals and tourists, snowfall is continuing for the third day in tourist resorts of Manali. According to reports from rescue post at Marhi, Rohtang pass has received 3.5 feet of snow. Solang ski slopes have received 10 inch snow. The intermittent rain has melted 4 inch snow in Manali town and converted it into slush.
Tourists on Manali Mall Road
Manali winter carnival is going to begin from January 5 and for the fun of tourists and participants from across the country, several snow related activities have been added this year. “Competitions like igloo making, snow statue, snowballs, snowman, fun races, snow mobile stunts, paragliding on snow etc would be organized in Manali. The completion would be the unique of its type,” Kullu MLA Govind Singh Thakur said.
Hoteliers in Manali said many tourists are extending their holidays to enjoy the snowfall here. “Two couple from Bangalore who were supposed to vacate their rooms on Thursday have extended their booking for 2 more days. Couples want to enjoy the snowfall as much as they can. Similar is the news from many other hotels,” general manager of hotel Hill Top, Sushil Chandel said.

Local ATV riders proved saviour for many tourists

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Dozen of local all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders who earn their livelihood providing joy ride to tourists at snow point proved saviour for many tourists who were waiting for help after being trapped in blizzards on Manali-Rohtang highway.
When local youths had news about tourist trapped and search and rescue operation carried out by administration, they too reached the spot and helped rescue many of them. Having four wheeled drive and experience to drive on rugged terrains, MTV riders crushed the snow on highway and transported victims to safe place near Kothi.
“Me, Karam Chand, Mangal Chand, Ram Krishan, Guddu and our friends heard the bad news and decided to join the operation. We really did good job,” said Mahender Kumar, MTV rider from Palchan village. He further recited that they have been joining such operation for years and feel proud as tourists are the source of their income. “This is the best way to show that how friendly we are with tourists.”
Saying that it is impossible to forget the pain that a family was feeling, Karam Chand said, “Though my ATV has passenger capacity of only 2 persons, but I was carrying a four-member family. An elder person from Kolkata who was stuck to me, trying to absorb my body heat, was crying like child. We continued with operation till late night.”
According to police, operation was continued till midnight and all tourists had safely reached Manali and Kothi village till 12.30 am. Around 50 vehicles could not be freed from the snow. Manali DSP Shamsher Singh said that operation to bring down all vehicles is on and there were only 9-10 vehicles left behind and they would be brought before the night.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Tourist puller: Kulluvi shawls' sale increases by 50%

Himachal Vacation Travel News

MA NALI: With temperature dipped many notches below the freezing point in Manali, sale of Kulluvi shawls, a must purchase souvenir for tourists, have increased up to 3,000 shawls every day.
Kulluvi shawl
According to a data from different shawl industries in Kullu, on an average, around 1,500 to 2,000 shawls were being sold between November and mid December every day but an increase in sale by 50% is being noticed since last two weeks. Experts say it could be the effect of cold that shawl industry is witnessing good market despite off-season. Kullu district has over 50 shawl industries and 150 outlets. But tourists prefer purchasing them directly from the industries to ensure genuineness and reasonable price.
General manager of Trishla shawl industry Harish Gupta said that tourists are loving shopping inside the industry where they can see our weavers weaving the original shawls with local material. “Outlets have varieties of shawls and most of them are made in factories outside the state. Kulluvi shawls have their unique embroidery and style which could only be prepared with real hands. Pure wool shawls are in great demand,” he added.
Given the market competition, weavers have dropped the prices of shawls. One can purchase a shawl even for Rs 84 from the industry. A fully designed shawl is available up to Rs 1,500. Similarly, Kulluvi caps are in great demand these days which are available for Rs 25 to Rs 250. Weavers say this year they have noticed a good rise in demand for hand-woven wool socks. Colourful bordered woollen muffler was another tourist attraction in Kullu.
A weaver weaves shawl in Kullu
“Pure wool and angora shawls are the first choice of tourists,” sales manager of Hill shawls industry Harpreet Singh said adding that Kullu is selling more than 3,000 shawls every day. “Walking on streets while wrapping around the colourful Kulluvi shawl is a new fashion. Weavers keep on experimenting with new colours and designs so as to meet the demand of every age group according to fashion.”
Thousands of shawls have been exported to different countries in past few years and the demand is increasing every year. France is the main customer of Kulluvi shawls for many years. Since Kulluvi caps are presented to skiers and organizers in Japan, Italy, France and many other countries during different occasions, caps are gaining popularity and weavers are having more demands for them.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year celebrations jam Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: With all parking places, roads, streets and footpaths occupied with vehicles, tourists struggling in search of rooms and DJs presenting their live performances, Manali had a wonderful but hectic New Year’s Eve and the celebrations are still continued.
Over 30,000 tourists from across the country had thronged Manali for New Year celebrations on December 31. Most of the hotels were occupied fully and all the tourist places of Manali were jammed with multitude of tourists. The condition was worse on Manali-Rohtang highway where traffic was moving with speed not more than 5 kmph. Around 5,000 tourist vehicles reached Marhi and Beas Nullah, the snow points of Manali, and frozen the traffic. On Sunday, around 3,500 vehicles thronged Beas Nullah.

Tourist rush at Beas Nullah below Rohtang pass

Police had a tough time restoring traffic between 35-km-long stretch of Manali-Marhi highway. Given the seriousness of matter, police officers had to rush to the spot. Influenced by the happiness of celebrations, tourists had parked their vehicles on the middle of the road and enjoying playing with snow.
“We had to use our entire power for smooth running of traffic as thousands of vehicles have reached here suddenly,” Manali deputy superintendent of police Shamsher Singh said. He added that police personnel have been deployed at a certain distance on highway and town to avoid untoward incidents.
Taxi operators in Manali are having good business after a long time. However, vehicles registered outside Himachal too are allowed to go to the snow point, even then Manali is facing shortage of taxis for local sightseeing. Disappointment of not reaching Rohtang top is breaking the hearts of tourists but they are enjoying even small patches of snow scattered along the highway.
Faces of those providing snow dresses on rent, ski and paragliding instructors are shining with happiness. “Business has picked up the pace and similar rush of tourists is expected to remain till January 5,” said Sandeep Kumar, who is renting out 40 to 60 snow dresses every day.

DJ parties and contests welcome in New Year in Manali
MANALI: Serene atmosphere of Manali was echoed with the sound of DJ parties, live music shows, bonfires and gala dinners on the New Year’s eve. All the hotels had arranged for parties for their customers in their own style but the grand party at Himachal Tourism’s club house in Manali was the centre of attraction for tourists.
New Year queen Tripti Sharma from Dehradoon
New Year queen contest, lemon dance, balloon dance and DJ dance were organized here followed by welcome with Kulluvi caps, gala dinner, bonfire and Himachali folk dance. Over 50 tourist couples participated in the contests and Tripti Sharma from Dehradoon won the New Year queen title. Sunita and Ajay from Chandigarh won the lemon dance competition and Ghaziabad residents Simran and Jitender were balloon dance winners. Mr and Mrs Amit Sharma from Kangra were the best dance couples of the evening.
Himachal Pradesh tourism development corporation (HPTDC) assistant general manager Mohan Lal Sharma said they had a spectacular party and club house was packed to its capacity. “Tourists appreciated Kulluvi folk dance and enjoyed the contests. Special competitions were organized for children,” he said.