Monday, 26 March 2012

Fresh snowfall triggers cold wave in Kullu-Manali, Lahaul

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Moderate snowfall in Lahaul and heavy snowfall on Rohtang pass and surrounding peaks has triggered cold waves in Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti while hailstorm lashed some parts of Kullu district.
Snowfall is a setback for hundreds of tribals from snowbound Lahaul valley who are planning to cross Rohtang on foot. The fresh white powder has given rise to dangerous situations. On the other hand, plum growers of the district, who were happy to see bumper flowering on trees, are upset with the inclement weather conditions. Hailstorms were reported from several areas. Rainfall and drop in temperature has destroyed butterflies, bees and insects which are necessary for pollination of the flowers.
Fresh snowfall near Manali
1cm to 5cm fresh snowfall was reported from Keylong, Darcha, Koksar and Sissu villages of Lahaul. Rohtang pass recorded 15cm fresh snowfall. Fresh blanket of snow was noticed up to Gulaba near Manali. A fresh wave of cold was triggered by the snowfall. People in Manali have again wrapped themselves inside the woollens.
Said a resident Manish Walia, “I had to bring back the room heater from my store room as the temperature has plunged suddenly. I was wearing only a shirt on Sunday but today I had to wear warm coat. Winters are back.” Similar condition was in hotels where tourists are asking for room heaters and warm blankets.
For tourists, it was a wonderful moment. Thousands of tourists thronged Solang Valley with hope to see fresh snowfall but none of them were lucky as fresh snowfall was confined only up to Gulaba ranges, around 1,000 feet above the Solang. As the temperature has plummeted close to subzero, there are strong possibilities of more overnight snowfall.

Snowfall hampers Manali-Rohtang highway clearance operation
MANALI: Achieving its first goal to clear Manali-Leh highway, Border Roads Organization (BRO) has cleared snow from highway till Beas Nullah, 33km from Manali but heavy snowfall has hampered the operation on Monday.

A snow cutter on Manali Leh highway near Rohtang (file photo)

If weather allows, Manali would be connected with Marhi, within two days, says BRO official. Snow clearance operation was badly affected after heavy snowfall on Monday. After facing blizzards, the work remained stopped the whole day. Numerous landslides have changed the shape of the highway. With highway remaining beneath several feet of snow for four months, nobody took stock of its conditions. Now the organization is getting to see what the highway had suffered during four winter months.
“Snowfall has increased our difficulties but we are close to reach Marhi from where we would start our second phase of operation to invade the Rohtang pass,” 38 border roads task force commander Yogesh Nair said. He said that BRO jawans are working under extreme climatic conditions and are facing 10 to 25 feet high walls of snow. “Temperature is many notches below the freezing point and landslides near Beas Nullah have ruined the face of highway. We are working hard to remain up to date with our already set target.”
BRO has still 20km of road to clear the snow before reaching Rohtang pass. Rahni Nullah, around 8km beyond Marhi, is said to be the toughest stretch to clear the snow as Rohtang glacier passes through it and more than 40 feet of snow which has turned hard ice is normal to be found here.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Pre summer season cheers Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Pre-summer season in Manali has cheered the hoteliers, taxi drivers and thousands of people linked to the tourism industry as rising temperature in plains is drawing them towards hills to get respite from scorching heat.
Peak summer season in Manali starts from April 15 and lasts till June 30 and around 20,000 tourists visit Manali every day during this period. As the temperature is continuously rising in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and other low altitude regions, people are thronging Manali and other hill stations. After witnessing this unexpected rush, hoteliers are busy in renovation of their properties to host the flood of visitors. They are happy to see a regular flow of tourists even during the leanest season time.

Tourist Influx at Solang Valley of Manali

“What could be the more soothing feeling that Manali is experiencing a regular flow of tourists round the year and it looks like we are going to remove the term ‘off-season’ from the list of tourism activities soon,” Manali hoteliers’ association president Gajender Thakur said. “There was a time when some hoteliers used to close their hotels in winters till late March to save the unnecessary expenses. Now there is no chance for any hotel to lock their hotel as regular tourist flow is earning them good bucks throughout the year,” he said.
General manager of hotel Chaman, Om Prakash, said he and his staff members are busy serving the guests and they had a wonderful winters this season. “Hoteliers have cashed this March like never before.” Manager of Whispering Valley resorts Manohar Thakur said the good flow of tourists in March is pointing towards a bumper season from the beginning of the April.
Parking places being fully occupied and people parking their vehicles on the highways, Manali police is having tough time dealing with the traffic. Manali traffic in-charge Manohar Thakur said the town is over crowed with the vehicles from other states and police is facing problems while handling the law breakers. “We have a shortage of men power and traffic is growing sharply. A master plan would be prepared to tackle the problem,” he added.

Sunny search land to setup film city in Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
Sunny Deol with a local in Manali
MANALI: Sunny Deol’s third personal tour to Manali in a year has given birth to many speculations. This time Sunny was accompanied by his brother Bobby Deol who was staying in a private cottage at Shuru village of Manali.
Sources say Sunny is putting strong efforts to own a film city in Manali and trying to convince state government to help him purchase a piece of land. During his last visits in March and April, Sunny had visited some orchards in the surroundings of Shanag and Raison villages and he fell in love with them. He also met with veteran politicians and discussed his future plans. Because his dream project would be beneficial for the tourism industry of the state both directly and indirectly, it was being told that government was ready to support his project to bring in a film city.
Bobby Deol in Manali
Like his last tours, Sunny preferred privacy and avoided coming in sight of people. Most of the people could not get hang about it. Initially the reports were that both the brothers are here for shooting of film but all speculations turned out to be false. While staying in the serenity of nature, Sunny and Bobby again visited Shanag village where they enjoyed volleyball with local villagers and tried their hands in snowboarding.
A source said that Sunny again visited some plots near Manali and before leaving for Mumbai, planned his next visit to Manali.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Cancellation of flights keeps quality tourists away from Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Frequent cancellation and unavailability of flights to Kullu-Manali airport not only have disappointed the high-end tourists, but also affected the tourism. Currently, only one airline is operating three sorties in a week between Delhi and Kullu.
Kullu Manali airport at Bhuntar

With Pathankot-Manali-Leh rail line witnessing political ups and downs, road transport is the only reliable way to reach Manali, which takes at least 14 hours of travelling time. Tourism experts say most of the tourists cancel their Manali tour only due to hectic and fatiguing travelling. Kullu-Delhi flight, which takes around 1 hour 25 minutes of flying time, has tickets available for around Rs 14,000, which is quite high and customers are not able to get flight for the desired schedule. Kingfisher was the only airline that was operating regular flights to Kullu. A source working with Kingfisher airline said all flights have been cancelled due to necessary maintenance work.
Travel agents say the irregular flights have blown the Manali tourism badly and it has disappointed many tourists who cannot afford 2 extra days only for travelling between by roads. “We have a huge demand of flight service to Kullu-Manali and government should attempt to ensure participation of other airlines on this route which is profitable for both tourists and airlines,” owner of Matkon travels, Anil Sharma, said. He added that connecting Kullu with regular and multi airlines would add to the economy and more tourists’ arrival.
Cancellation of many holiday tours to Manali was reported after Kingfisher cancelled its flights. Owner of Snow Peak Travels, Pritam Chand, said a group of tourists had booked his tickets in Kingfisher airline for March 18, but now they have cancelled their programme due to cancellation of flight. “Many hotels and travel agents are reporting cancellation of tourist arrivals. Providing subsidy in airfare to Kullu, which at present is very high, is the farthest thing, but due to the disinterest by government, airlines are not interested in operating their flights on this route,” he said.
Summer season of the Manali is going to start shortly and hoteliers are upset as quality tourism in the area is on the back foot. “Not only transportation mediums but also we don’t have enough resources to host the quality tourists,” owner of Himachal Vacation Travels, Suresh Sharma, said adding that earlier the inclement weather caused cancellation of flights and now lack of support from government is disillusioning airlines.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Kullu-Manali: A Telugu flick, which has released worldwide, is set to promote tourism of Kullu Manali with its scenic backdrop and exotic locations. Most of the part of the movie has a shooting in Kullu and Manali.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Avalanche warning in Lahaul, 2.5 feet snow in Keylong

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Followed by heavy snowfall since Sunday morning, the Lahaul-Spiti district administration has issued alert for avalanches and advised residents to stay indoors till favourable weather condition.
Heavy snowfall in Keylong in Lahaul valley

District headquarter Keylong has recorded 75cm fresh snowfall since last 36 hours. Blizzards and cold wave have gripped the entire valley. Accumulation of snow is even high on high altitude regions around the valley. To cope with the situation, administration has advised residents to stay inside their house.
“It is dangerous for residents to venture into the isolated areas where risk of avalanches is very high,” Lahaul-Spiti deputy commissioner Rajeev Shankar told Himachal Vacation Travel News adding that staying indoors is advisable in such inclement weather conditions. “We have marked the avalanche prone areas and keeping an eye on the activities in valley.”
Udaipur and Koksar recorded 45cm and 80cm snowfall respectively. Keylong on Monday recorded minimum temperature of minus 2.9 degrees Celsius and the maximum temperature was 4.6 degrees Celsius. Local meteorological department has forecast of light snowfall only on high altitude peaks on Tuesday.

Tourism frauds at alarming rate in Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: The increasing popularity of hill resorts of Manali has given rise to the travel related fraudulent incidents with tourists, hoteliers and local tourism entrepreneurs who are being duped by fraud travel agents in Delhi, Mumbai and other metro cities.
Around 25 lakh tourists visit Manali every year but not all of them return back with happy memories. There are some visitors who get surprised after finding no booking in hotel for which they had paid in advance to the travel agents. Local travel agents and hoteliers are being duped for big amounts on the pretext of finalizing a big holiday package deals. Many tourists have been cheated on the name of lucky draw, special offers and discounts. But very few of them dare to register complaint to avoid getting into unnecessary trouble.
 A tourist enjoys skiing in Manali
“We had booked our 4 days luxury honeymoon package for Rs 18,000 after getting fifty percent discount for booking online from a travel agent in Delhi but when we reached Manali on Sunday, our booking was made in a cheap and dirty hotel near Mall Road area,” Kunal and Ketaki Ranjan, from Ghaziabad, said. The couple who narrated their story to some hoteliers and travel agents here, refused to lodge an FIR saying that they don’t want to spoil their honeymoon in legal proceedings.
In one more recent case, a travel agent in Delhi, who first called up management of hotel Kanishka in Manali to book 15 rooms for him and said that he was on way to Manali with a bus, cheated them of Rs 7,000. Manali DSP Shamsher Singh, who has appointed an investigation officer to unearth this scam, said the fraud travel agent made another call to hotel management and said that his bus has a technical problem and he needed Rs 10,000 which he would repay in Manali. “To assure the hotel management, cheater made third call and said that deposit only Rs 7,000 in his account, he has arranged for Rs 3,000. They finally deposited Rs 7,000 and now he is not attending any phone call. An officer has been sent to Delhi to investigate the matter. We have one more such case,” he said.
As the 80 percent flow of tourists to Himachal comes through Delhi, local travel agents remain dependant on agents in Delhi for better outcome. Sources say, around 25 percent travel agents in Himachal were operating their agencies without having registered with the tourism department and number was even higher in Delhi and metro cities. Many travel agents working online don’t have any permanent working office and are difficult to trace. Still they are luring customers with their enticing offers and tourism department was failed to detect such criminals.
Owner of Himalayan Holiday Tours in Manali, Sanjeev Singh, complained that a travel agent in Delhi was convincing him for cash deposit to avail the special offers. “I would have agreed to his words if I was not guided by the police,” he adds. Police have advised all the tourism entrepreneurs to check the authenticity of the person before making any payment.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Heavy snowfall in Lahaul, Rohtang and Solang

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Entire Lahaul valley seems to have witnessed the onset of winter in March, with heavy snowfall and blizzards striking the valley. Lahaul has received the heaviest snowfall on the season on Sunday.
Till last reports from Keylong, district headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti, blizzards had gripped the valley and cold waves have again tightened its grip. Keylong recorded 45cm fresh snowfall in last 15 hours. Udaipur, Koksar and Darcha recorded 30cm, 50cm and 40cm snowfall respectively. Residents are shocked after this unexpected spell of snowfall. However, farmers are happy to see a thick white blanket over their fields which would help them grow bumper vegetables in summer.
Keylong SDM Raj Krishan Thakur said that the order of heavy snowfall was continuing till late evening and cold has gripped the valley. “More than 1.5 feet of snow has been accumulated on the ground. Power, water, and everything is ok so far. Lahaul desperately needs snowfall and it is better for everything,” he said.
Rohtang pass, Gulaba, Kothi and Solangnala in Kullu witnessed good amount of snowfall since morning. Hundreds of tourists thronged Solang valley to enjoy the fresh snow. Meanwhile, snowfall has badly hit the snow clearance operation of border roads organization, who has started its operation on Thursday with an aim to restore Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway till April 15.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

BRO starts its snow clearance operation on Manali-Rohtang-Leh highway

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: With an aim to restore the strategically important Manali-Leh highway till April 15, and for the welfare of its daring jawaans, 38 Border Road Task Force (BRTF) performed a special puja at Gulaba and started its two-month-long snow clearance operation on Thursday.

BRO performs puja before starting snow clearance opearation on Manali Leh highway

Removing snow from 80-km stretch of highway between Gulaba and Sissu, which has been disappeared under 10 to 50 feet of snow, is similar to finding needle in haystack. BRTF personnel would work under the threats of avalanches, frost bites, gangrene and injuries as high velocity winds cause temperature to plunge below many degrees below the freezing point. To give pace to the work progress, Border Roads Organization (BRO) has formed four teams and started its operation from – Gulaba, Marhi, Sissu and Darcha.
Gulaba, near Manali
“Each team constitutes 4 snow cutters and 25 personnel including specialists and operators who are determined to restore the highway before the April 15,” commander Yogesh Nair said. “We are witnessing 8 to 15 feet snow at Gulaba camp, 23 km from Manali, but our difficulties would increase with every kilometre we move towards the Rohtang top. Snow is hard and conditions may even worst at Rahni Nullah, Beas Nullah and other avalanche prone areas.”
BRO officials were afraid of the heavy snow forecast after March 4 as in such conditions they would have to move back to the starting point to restart the operation. Glacier and avalanche points on the highway were another threat to the workers who could claim the lives. Commander said that they have discussed with the snow and avalanche study establishment (SASE) to get the exact location of dangerous points. With the phenomenon of melting and freezing of snow, it had formed the shape of semi ice which is hard to cut through. “If necessary, we may use explosives to blast the ice,” Nair said.
Manali-Leh highway
Literally one of the most dangerous highways of the world, Manali-Leh highway, which connects Lahaul-Spiti and Ladakh regions with Kullu, is important strategically and for tourism. Rohtang is the only gateway to Lahaul valley, which after being blocked with snow cuts off the valley from rest country for over five months. BRO has requested administration not to let the civilian vehicles beyond Palchan towards Rohtang pass for smooth running of the operation.

Taxi and bus operators’ strike troubles people in Kullu-Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: It was no doubt a frustrating day for students, commuters and tourists in Kullu-Manali who suffered the brunt of strike by private taxi and bus operators on Thursday.
Thousands of tourists in Manali, who could not get taxi for them, remained confined to their hotels. Solang, Naggar, Manikaran and other tourist spots of Manali were wearing deserted looks. Tourists, who reached here only for holidaying, sparing their precious time, were looking disappointed.
A tourist from Pune, Balraj Deshmukh, who had planned to visit Solang valley for some skiing and paragliding with his family, said he has already booked his return Volvo ticket from Manali to Delhi for Friday and he would not be able to visit Manali completely because of absence of cabs. “This strike could be for good or bad reasons, but we are suffering its adverse impact. Manali has no backup plan for tourists,” he said.
The Him-Anchal taxi operators’ union in Manali is the largest taxi union of Manali with more than 1,700 cabs and 80 mini buses. Striking against the state government for its order to increase the taxes, all these vehicles jammed their wheels which led to complete standstill in Manali. Though, no demonstrations were noticed here but students and commuters who are dependent on public transportations had a terrible day.
“Kullu is well connected with Manali by private buses while government buses ply the route occasionally and we were waiting for buses to reach office for over 2 hours,” said a commuter Sanjeev Kumar. Students, too, had to wait for hours to reach the schools. Some taxi operators took advantage of the moment and charged arbitrary fares from the tourists. According to police, no untoward incident was reported from anywhere.