Thursday, 24 January 2013

Roofs collapse after heavy snowfall in Kullu

MANALI: Roofs of three houses in Malana village have collapsed while many other roofs in Kullu villages are reported to have damaged with heavy snowfall in recent days, an official said.
Villagers clear snow from their roofs in Kullu
According to Kullu sub-divisional magistrate Vinay Dhiman, a local resident from Malana has informed administration that three roofs in village have been collapsed due to weight of snow. Malana village has received over 150cm of snow last week and all routes to village have been blocked. Trekking to Malana is not safe, so the administration is waiting for appropriate time to carry out survey.
“Though the report is not official as it is just a phone call but taking it seriously, revenue department has been directed to carry out recce of the village as soon as possible,” Dhiman said. According to him, administration has received many complaints of damage to roofs by heavy snowfall from various parts.
Meanwhile, work is on to clear snow from roofs in Kullu district. Many villages have still snow up to 120cm. According to officials, there is no report of injury due to collapsing of roofs.

No worries here, heavy snowfall proves beneficial for tourism industry in Manali

SHIMLA/ MANALI/ DALHOUSIE: Fresh snowfall in Shimla, Manali and Dalhousie seems to have worked well for tourism industry as hoteliers and travel agents have flooded with inquiries regarding winter holiday tours in February which is termed as off-season month in Himachal. Hotel occupancy is also likely to double during Republic Day and ODI cricket match in Dharamshala.
Tourists on Manali Mall Road
Hills and valleys with white mantle are attracting tourists to experience the winters of Himachal. In addition to tourists from Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana and Delhi, most of the tourists are from southern Indian states. Despite troubling surface transport due to heavy snowfall, good flow of tourists in this season has cheered the tourism industry, which is the main source of income for thousands of people here. According to sources, three to five groups from various schools and colleges are reaching Manali every day, besides hundreds of honeymooners.
Mehar Chand Thakur, owner of Holiday Cottages and Resorts Manali, said February is going to be fantastic in terms of tourism and their phones are continuously ringing with inquiries and status of snow from tourists. “Snow is the foundation of tourism in Manali. Heavy snowfall has rejuvenated our tourism. It’s the party time as both hoteliers and tourists are happy,” he said.
Not only winter season but good snowfall has ensured good summer season in Himachal as tourists spots like Gulaba, Marhi and Rohtang pass have several feet of snow where tourists can enjoy in summer months. Rohtang being the only tourist spot of the country where tourists can find snow round the year, it is the place which decides the economy of Manali and even other tourist towns of Himachal. Currently, Rohtang has over 15 feet of snow which may increase up to 60 feet till end of March.
Gajender Thakur, owner of hotel Shandela, said though the unexpectedly heavy snowfall brings with it many problems but it is also true that snowfall has proved boon for tourism industry of the state. “Thousands of tourists are on way to see the heaps of snow spread over Manali, Shimla and Dalhousie. Worry lines have finished now as good snow has ensured merry time.”
Manali, Shimla and Dharmashala hoteliers are preparing to host more tourists during Republic Day and ODI cricket match in the weekend. According to hoteliers, they would get good number of guests after cricket match in Dharmashala.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

No pressure cooker, cell phones please! Deities are busy in annual assembly

MANALI: Nine villages of Manali have maintained a complete silence for 42 days as their deities -- Rishi Gautam, Rishi Vyas and Kanchan Nag -- are attending the annual assembly in heaven and a little noise can disturb them. Villagers believe the deities are deciding the fate of the world and maintaining silence is necessary for them.

Gautam Rishi temple in Goshal village near Manali
Doors of the temple at Goshal village, where these deities live, have been sealed on Sunday. No pooja would be performed here and even ringing the temple bell is prohibited. Villagers have finished their agricultural works and now they cannot work in their fields till next 42 days. Television, radio and all modes of entertainment have been shut down. Cell phones have been put into silence mode and villagers cannot cook food in pressure cookers until the restriction is not removed.
Goshal, Burua, Shanag, Solang, Palchan, Kulang, Majhach, Ruar and Kothi villages adhere to this strange rule for 42 days after Makar Sankranti every year. Villagers try to speak in low volume to avoid sin. According to villagers, priest and some special persons from villages fill a pitcher with holy soil and put is inside the temple and seal the doors. “The pitcher would be pulled out after 42 days and the soil would be poured on the floor. The contents which appear with soil make the prophecy of the world,” a priest Mehar Chand Sharma said.
Generally grain, coal, sand, hairs, flowers and saffron are found in the soil which denotes status of crop, fire incidents, flood, deaths, religious ceremonies and marriages respectively. Everything that comes out of pitcher denotes some particular event. Not only people of nine villages but the entire Kullu valley has their faith in this ritual and they believe the prophecy made by three deities has always been accurate.
Rakesh Thakur, resident of Goshal village, said, “We try to remain silent as possible as we can. We have been told by our elders that breaking silence can cause disturbance to the deities who have been sealed inside the temple. We request all those who visit our village to stay calm and not to talk loudly.”
Everybody is aware of anger of Rishi Gautam who had turned his wife Ahilya into stone with curse just because of the misdeed by Lord Indra. Indra, who disguised as a cock, had violated the fidelity of Ahilya. Since then, rearing roosters and hen is strictly prohibited in Goshal village where Rishi Gautam is believed to have living for ages. Villagers do not do the things which can trigger anger in their deity.

Village women’s to give challenge to professional models by catwalk in Manali

MANALI: Adorned with traditional attire and jewelry, women of mahila mandals from Kullu villages would present their skills of catwalk on the ramp of first national level Winter Carnival, which is going to be held in Manali in second week of February.
Manali Winter Carnival (file photo)
 To make the carnival more interesting, chosen women from villages would get a chance to participate in fashion shows and winter queen contests where dozens of beauties from many states would give them stiff competition. According to sources at carnival organizing committee, hundreds of women from about 80 mahila mandals would be taking part in Manali Winter Carnival. “Beautiful women with old ornaments and unique local dressings would be chosen for the contest and the country would get to see them doing catwalk. The winning woman would be awarded with title of lady of festival,” sources said.
Manali Winter Carnival (winter queen contest) (file photo)
After learning about the contest, women in villages have filled with enthusiasm to give tough challenge to professional models from cities and to become lady of festival. Janki Devi, member of Astha Mahila Mandal, said, “Though we don’t know the basics of catwalk and our women and girls are lacking in confidence, but we are second to none in beauty, IQ and general knowledge. We have good opportunity to prove our mettle in fashion world.”
As the amphitheater would be busy with fashion shows, talent hunt shows, entertainment and folk programs for five days, Mall Road of Manali would witness variety of programs including mehandi, folk music and folk dance competitions. Tug of war between women would be another attraction this year.

Manali Winter Carnival

The main aim of organizing Winter Carnival is to attract more and more tourists to Manali in February, the month of dull tourism season. Participants from Jammu, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Assam, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Himachal are contacting organizing committee to take part in the carnival.
Saying that the Voice of Himachal, Himachal’s only singing talent hunt show, is not a part of Manali carnival, Kullu deputy commissioner Sharab Negi, who is the chairman of Winter Carnival committee, has decided to extract it from carnival. “Singing auditions were being organized without having discussion with Carnival committee. We would be organizing more tasteful events to entertain both locals and tourists,” he said.

Hoteliers beg for services from Himachal CM

MANALI: Upset with the deteriorating condition of tourism industry of Manali due to weak infrastructure, a group of representative from Manali hoteliers association met with chief minister Virbhadra Singh at Dharamshala and begged for better facilities to the tourist town, on Tuesday.

President of association, Anup Ram Thakur, said chief minister has assured that flight service to Himachal would be resumed soon and he would discuss with centre the plan to lay rail line up to Sundernagar (Mandi). “We had a detailed discussion on bad conditions of highways. Parking, byepass road, traffic jams are another problems that we are facing. We do not have sufficient toilets at tourist places. CM has assured us that we would see a change shortly.”
According to hoteliers, in 2012, they have suffered huge losses due to weak infrastructure, permanent cancellation of flights, lack of tourism promotion, increased taxes and no support from government.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Manali turns winter games’ resorts

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: With over 500 skiers including experts and amateurs presenting their skiing abilities on ski slopes of Manali everyday, Manali has turned skiresort where most of the shops who rent out skis are hanging ‘sold out’ notice outside their shops.
All ski slopes of Manali at Solang, Fataru, Kothi and Gulaba have been crowded with skiers from across the country. One to three feet of snow on slopes is inviting ski lovers from various parts of the country. Skiers are showing stunts on better snow cover under pleasant weather. Along with skilled skiers, hundreds of tourists are trying their hands with ski kit. And kit lenders are busy in counting hot cash.
“All sets of ski have been sold out,” a ski kit lender, Vijay Kumar, said, adding that he did excellent business in last one week. “Enough snow on slopes and sunny sky is perfect for skiing. 30 per cent of the tourists who are heading towards snow points are hiring skis from us. We are expecting the constant heat in business for next three months.”

Manali has over one hundred shops who deal in skiing instruments and outfits. Recent snowfall has cheered them as all are doing brisk business. Over 50 skiing instructors here are also busy with their clients. Roshan Thakur, an instructor, said, “You can see skiers everywhere. Most of them are newbie and they hire instructors. Overall, learners are more than teachers these days.”
Vishal Thakur, who has eleven pairs of ski, said, “My all skis are busy since morning and I’m working as an instructor. More snowfall may attract even more skiers in coming days. We earn our yearly livelihood after providing our services in winter months.”

Although the ski slopes have less snow than previous years and is likely to melt in a month. But skiers believe soon the slopes would be covered under four to ten feet of fresh snow. With the lower slopes losing their snows, skiers would move to higher altitude in search of new slopes. As many tourists were reporting overcharging from them, ski instructors have formed an association to stop misleading them. Depending on the duration, a pair of skis and an instructor is available for Rs one thousand.