Saturday, 27 April 2013

Remove dhabas from Rohtang pass: HC to Himachal Govt

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: In yet another move to save fragile ecology of Rohtang pass, Himachal Pradesh High court has ordered Himachal government not to allow any individual to run dhaba on Rohtang area beyond Marhi, 34km from Manali. Now, only a valid license holder who meets the terms of Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) can establish his dhaba here, an official said.
Temporary built dabhas on Rohtang pass (file pic)
The decision was taken in a meeting between chief secretary to Himachal government and various officials from Kullu and Lahaul after order from HC. According to sources, High Court had asked government to take effective steps to stop pollution on Rohtang pass and it was noticed that dhabas were contributing to littering by using non-disposable materials for food and drinks. Now the 17km area between Marhi and Rohtang cannot be used for dhabas or other eateries without obtaining permission from HPTDC.
Kullu deputy commissioner Sharab Chhopal Negi hold a meeting with SDM Manali, SDM Lahaul, BRO and other officials and ratified the decision on Friday. “Now HPTDC would take care of eateries beyond Marhi,” said Manali SDM Vinay Dhiman, who has a charge of district tourism development officer. He said now tourists will have to vacate Rohtang pass before 5PM for safety reasons everyday and police would stay there till late evening to ensure all tourists have vacated the pass. It has been noticed over the years that sudden snowfall and landslides trap many tourists.
The funds collected by HPTDC after distributing licenses to responsible persons would be spent to keep Rohtang clean and green, Dhiman said. A time table has been made for vehicles coming and going to Rohtang pass to cope with the traffic problems.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway links after four months

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Over hundred villages of snow-bound Lahaul valley have got freedom from snow-cage after four-month-long period on Wednesday late night when snow cutters from either side of Rohtang met at Kilometer-55 landmark beyond Rohtang top.
BRO clears snow from Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway

Keylong in Lahaul has been linked to Manali by 115-km-long highway and some vehicles from Manali crossed Rohtang pass on Thursday morning. Despite facing bad weather conditions for most of the time, Border Roads Organization (BRO) has made record second time in a row for opening of the road on April 24. Last year the road was opened on the same day. Now thousands of people of Lahaul shall not have to depend on helicopter to go out of the valley in emergency situations. And now the movement of pedestrians would also stop on pass who are forced to put their lives in danger to reach their destinations.
Although snow is cleared from the entire length of Manali-Keylong road, some stretches including Rohtang top, Rahni Nullah, are not safe for driving and BRO has requested people not to drive until road is declared safe for general traffic movement. “Road has been linked but it’s still risky for general movement. We are trying to make it safe for all types of vehicles,” BRO commander Colonel Yogesh Nair said.
The work to clear snow from the highway was started on March 1 from Gulaba near Manali and BRO got success in its operation in 55 days. A dozen dozers and snow cutters were deployed to clear road from either side of Rohtang pass. While over 40 feet high snow was cut at Rahni Nullah, a constant thickness of 30 feet was seen after Rohtang towards Koksar in Lahaul.
“Now putting all efforts for restoration of Manali-Leh road is our next operation,” said commander. Keylong-Leh road has been cleared till Zingzingbar, 15 km before Baralacha-la. The military convoy to Ladakh would pass through Rohtang and Baralacha-la only after getting final nod for safety from BRO. Lahaul valley cuts off from rest of the country after blockage of Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway with snow for over four months every years.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Manali-Leh road cleared up to Rohtang pass

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: 48 days after Border Roads Organization (BRO) had started its snow clearance operation to restore Manali-Rohtang highway, the jawans on Friday successfully cleared road up to Rohtang top, 50km from Manali.
Jawans of Border Roads Organization are full of enthusiasm who after receiving Civil Services Award from state government on occasions of Himachal Day are working despite inclement weather at 13,050 feet. “The top is covered with a thick sheet of 30feet snow. But snow cover is maximum towards Lahaul side where we are getting to see over 30 feet snow which is more than that of previous years,” BRO commander Colonel Yogesh Nair said.
On the other side of Rohtang, nearly 12km snow is still to be cleared to reach Rohtang top. According to organization, in last 48 days, they witnessed snowfall in maximum days which slowed down their work. It’s again snowing on Rohtang for last one week but the Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway is expected to restore for traffic by the end of this month.
Meanwhile, snowfall on Rohtang is creating problems for pedestrians from snow-bound Lahaul valley. But as BRO has cleared road up to top from Manali side, pedestrians are taking sigh of relief as they need to walk only for one hour.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Trout fishing proves boon for tourism in Kullu valley

Himachal Vacation Travel News
KULLU: With hundreds of domestic and foreign tourists visiting Kullu valley for trout fishing in cold water streams of Beas, Parbati, Tirthan and Sainj, angling tourism is at its all time record level attracting over hundred tourists every month.
Trout fishing (angling) in Kullu Manali
Its trout fishing season and rivers in Kullu have been deluged by enthusiastic anglers who have come to try their luck in trout-catch from across the globe. Himachal Pradesh Fisheries Department who occasionally drops trout eggs in steams has designed very easy norms to obtain license for angling for a whole day. The department sold record 1,210 licenses in 2012 only in Kullu which was 500 more than its target. 750 licenses were sold in 2011.

Angling in Kullu Manali (Himachal Pradesh)
“More and more people are visiting Kullu for angling and the sport is helping in increasing the tourism in valley,” HP fisheries department deputy director SP Mehta said who claims even more anglers would visit valley for trout fishing this year. He further tells, “We are promoting angling as adventure sport and anybody can get a license after paying fee of Rs 100 for one day. But the angler cannot catch more than six fishes a day and the minimum size of fish should not be less than 40cm.”

To attract more anglers, Kullu Anglers Club in association with fisheries department organizes national angling competition every year where award is given to biggest catch. Such one competition was organized on April 13, 14 in Kasol valley where some entries were from abroad. Catching trout by other than fishing line and bait is illegal.

British had left trout in cold water streams of Himachal to encourage angling nearly hundred years ago. Trout waters in Himachal are estimated about 2,400 km in length where both brown and rainbow trout thrives. Fisheries department has empowered tourism officers in all districts to distribute fishing license to promote angling as tourism. Himachal tourism department has a Angler’s Bungalow situated by bank of river Beas in Katrain where anglers can get accommodation at cheap tariff. Trout fishing remains completely banned between November 1 and February 28 every year to help them breed and propagate without interruption.

Kullu Fisheries dept exports trout feed to Bhootan

KULLU: Not only for tourism purpose, but fisheries department is promoting trout farming to strengthen the economy in villages. Kullu based Indo Norwegian fish farm, Patlikuhal, of the department has the only trout feed processing unit in country which produced record 92 tonne feed in 2012-13. The unit exported 2.5 tonne feed and 30,000 trout embryo to Bhootan. Two lakh trout embryo were given to Sikkim. Deputy director of fisheries department, SP Mehta, said the Patlikuhal based this farm also produced record 16.47 tonnes of trout in last financial year. “Trout is proving beneficial for Himachal both in tourism and commercial points of view,” he said.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Adventure tourism achieves new heights in Himachal

Himachal Vacation Travel News
SHIMLA/ MANALI: The rough and treacherous mountainous regions of Himachal are earning revenues for both its residents and government as adventure tourism of the state is on its rise. Although the state has failed to attract high end adventure enthusiasts due to the weak infrastructure, but still a sharp bounce in adventure industry in recent years is drawing attraction of more and more tourists from across the world.
Adventure tourism in Himalayan regions of Himachal is on rise
With over five lakh tourists visiting state only for adventure activities, which is more than twice than that it was 10 years back, Himachal has proved its potential in sector of adventure tourism. According to sources, in addition to tourists from abroad, a large part of subscribers to Himachal are from Maharashtra, West Bengal and southern states of the country. Not only basic adventure activities like river rafting, paragliding and skiing are the hot selling sports, but mountaineering has proved to be a backbone of tourism industry of the Himachal.
“Himachal is establishing its identity as mini-Nepal for its sky-high hills which are not that easy to climb,” owner of Himalayan Caranvan, Ravi Thakur, said, who claims hundreds of permissions are being sought from Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), Delhi, to climb peaks in Himachal every year. “Thousands of climbers are reaching Himachal to scale one of the toughest peaks of the world every year. Easy access to base of the peaks and low cost climbing expeditions are pulling attention of the world. We have challenging peaks ranging from 15,000 feet to 22,362 feet,” he said.
The Western Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (now ABVIMAS) has prepared hundreds of skilled mountaineers in Himachal in last four decades who have further contributed to cheap, safe and eco-friendly adventure tourism in the state. Kangra, Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Spiti and Kinnaur have become the hotspot for adventure activities.
“Lakhs of tourists from France, UK, USA, Germany, Japan, Italy and Israel are visiting Himachal every year and majority of them come for adventure activities, especially mountaineering,” Kapil Negi from Indian Himalayan Excursions said. According to him, as mountaineering is a form of physical fitness, more and more Indians living in big cities are getting into the adventure activities. “As per the preliminary estimates, adventure trade of the state may rise up to 20% this year has hundreds of bookings are being done every day.”
The negative part of adventure tourism in Himachal is negligence on the part of government. State has no artificial adventure resort to attract high end tourists. According to service providers, they lose hundreds of bookings due to unavailability of expensive activities like bungee jumping and sky-lines. Japanese climbers are given credit to explore the peaks of Western Himalayas and they had summit almost all peaks of Himachal many decades back when mountaineering was not a part of tourism in Himachal. Today, thousands of youths of the state are engaged in different adventure activities like trekking, camping, rock climbing, rappelling, mountain biking, jeep safari, river rafting and paragliding.

Tourists allowed up to Gulaba on Rohtang road

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: As snow in Solang valley has almost disappeared, administration has allowed tourist vehicles to reach up to Gulaba, 24 km onManali-Rohtang highway.

The melting speed of snow has increased with arrival of hundreds of tourists and almost similar number of vehicles in Solang valley. After snow disappeared from ski slopes here, tourists are visiting Anjani Mahadev for snow related activities. Finally tourists have reached Gulaba where two to five feet high walls of snow are thrilling them.
Still tourists who are reaching here with non-Himachali vechicles prefer visiting Solang valley as their vehicles are not allowed to go beyond Kothi, sources said.

As the snow would be melting in lower regions, tourists would be allowed to go closer to Rohtang pass. Rahla fall, Beas Nullah, Marhi and Rahni Nullah would be the next snow points until snow is cleared up to Rohtang in May.
[Know about tourism in Ladakh]

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Manali may cross 35 lakh landmark in tourists' arrival

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Despite having bedding capacity of more than 25,000, which is more than that in Delhi, tourists visiting Manali this summer may have to struggle a lot to get a room as over 50 per cent rooms have already been sold for May and June, while remaining rooms are likely to be reserved soon, sources said.

Tourists on Manali Mall Road (HV file pic)

With over 32 lakh tourists visiting Manali in 2012, the tourist town witnessed an increase of 15% only in a year. In 2010, 25.29 lakh tourists visited Manali and the number increased to 27.98 lakh in 2011. Number of tourists is expected to cross milestone of 35 lakh this year. Manali has over 800 hotels, resorts, guest houses and homestay units, and all have been flooded with thousands of booking enquiries for summer. Even the April month is expected to see big crowd and many hotels have full occupancy after April 20.

“Almost all good hotels are booked for most of the days in May and June. Even March end was fully occupied. Seems like summer tourist season is going to start earlier than usual and Manali is going to set another record in tourists’ arrival,” owner of hotel Beas Vatika Rakesh Thakur said. He said February and March months, which are believed to be off-season, also kept cheering hoteliers with constant flow of tourists.
According to hoteliers, tourists from Kashmir are diverting to Himachal and all parts of the state would be crowded with tourists very soon. Another hotelier, Surendra Shekhawat, said, advance booking rate is very high this year as compare to the previous years. “The trend of online booking has led to selling out of all good hotels many months in advance. The only negative point is that those who do not believe in advance booking struggle to find rooms after their arrival. This year all hoteliers are certainly going to mint good money,” he said.
The unexpectedly high rush of tourists is causing frequent traffic jams in Manali and its tourist spots including Solang and Hadimba temple. Parking is another problem that tourists are facing here. Kullu police is going to depute 40 more personnel to regulate the traffic from April 20, a police source said.
According to data from Himachal tourism department, nearly 10 lakh domestic and overseas tourists visited Manali in 2001. The figure has increased by over 200% only in 12 years.
Cheering Data
Year - No of tourists visiting Manali
2001: 10 lakh
2002: 11 lakh
2003: 13 lakh
2004: 15 lakh
2005: 17 lakh
2006: 19 lakh
2007: 20 lakh
2008: 21 lakh
2009: 23.5 lakh
2010: 25.29 lakh
2011: 27.98 lakh
2012: 32 lakh

Thursday, 4 April 2013

ANI reporter killed, 2 injured in avalanche near Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: A Kullu based reporter who was working with ANI was killed after an avalanche struck the Rahla Fall area on Manali-Rohtang highway while he was shooting the snow-clearance operation of Border Roads Organization (BRO), about 28 km on Manali-Leh highway on Wednesday.

Karan Kumar, assistant cameraman and a BRO jawan had a narrow escape but got minor injuries after being caught into the grip of avalanche.
Search & rescue operation for reporter at Rahla Fall in Manali
Prem Thakur, son of Sunu Ram, resident of Puid village near Kullu, was shooting the BRO personnel on work along with his assistant cameraman Karan, son of Lal Chand, near Rahla waterfall on Manali-Rohtang highway when an avalanche struck the area with a snow clearing machine operator Mukesh Kumar. Mukesh rolled down towards valley up to a long distance and sustained minor injuries.

According to Mahabir Thakur, deputy director of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (ABVIMAS), an intensive search and rescue operation was launched to recover the missing press correspondent. “The body was recovered from snow after around four hours of search,” he said.
Search operation was carried out with the help from rescue experts from ABVIMAS, police and BRO personnel. Heavy snowfall and cold temperature hampered the search operation as snowfall was continuing since afternoon. The daring reporter, Prem Thakur (28), was brought to his home in Kullu for last rites late night. Prem had contributed to the promotion of tourism in Himachal with his unique coverage for national and international TV channels.