Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Cold is not biting in Himachal this winter

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI/SHIMLA: Peak winter months of Himachal -- December and January -- have passed but neither the water taps were found frozen nor did the residents feel the biting cold as it used to be earlier. For many, this is one of the pleasant winters they have ever had.
Tourists enjoy skiing after fresh snowfall in Solang near Manali
Unlike previous years, water sources are not freezing in Manali, Shimla, Dalhousie and other hill stations perched in mid-hills of Himachal. The average minimum temperature this year is 3 to 5 degrees Celsius more than that in last year. Accept for few days of December when water taps in Manali and Shimla were found frozen, cold could not put its much impact on the normal living. Water sources in cold deserts of Lahaul-Spiti district, parts of Chamba and Kinnaur are still freezing with cold. Even in Lahaul-Spiti, the coldest district of Himachal, river Chenab didn’t see a thick walk-able layer of ice which was normal sight every winter.
“Icicles hanging from the roof every morning are missing this year. Except for few days of December, we didn’t bother to pour hot water on frozen tap to get the water,” says Mohan Lal Thakur, an octogenarian, who feels real winter was missing this year. “My children were sharing with me that we have saved a lot of fuel wood this year as there was no need of fire all the time.”
Shimla had minimum temperature in positive numbers for most of the days while minimum temperature in Manali could not touch minus 5 degrees Celsius mark. The worse thing is that new green grass is covering the orchards and fields of the state which is not usual for this time of the season. While Manali saw only one good spell of snow so far, Shimla saw three spells of snowfall.
Lal Chand Sharma, a Manali resident, said he has observed that the morning frost is also missing from the region. “A very thin layer of frost can be seen on the cars and roofs. Otherwise a thick layer of ice used to cover roads, pathways, grass, plants and everything,” he adds.
Though less cold could prove disastrous for apple orchards which needs freezing cold for good harvest, but hoteliers claim that this is merry time for tourists who are enjoying the slight cold. A hotelier here complained that tourists are still maintaining a distance from Manali with fear of getting stranded in heavy snowfall.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Tourists take wings in snow-covered Solang valley

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: The urge to take wings and fly over the snow-covered pine and deodar forests is drawing hundreds of tourists to Solang valley for paragliding. A beeline of adventure enthusiasts is being witnessed to Solang which is deep under two-foot snow.
The complete white valley is welcoming visitors for paragliding and skiing. The season is for winter sports but paragliding above the snow-covered valley is thrilling tourists the most. Entire valley experienced 30cm of fresh overnight snowfall. A pleasant day on Thursday, with sun playing hide and seek with clouds, offered a good time for adventure lovers who thronged here since early morning.
Tourists enjoy paragliding in Solang Valley
Nearly 40 trained pilots are offering tandem flights to hundreds of tourists who are standing on queues for their turn. Most of the tourists are taking off with their wings on the shoulders for the first time but those who are not new to this game are also flying on snow for the first time. Aneek Gupta from Maharashtra who had already tried hands on paragliding in Kamshet said, “I had never expected that paragliding can be done on snow covered mountains and valleys too. My experience was unforgettable. The only complain is the pilot didn’t allow me to fly at my own saying that he cannot take risk.”
Not only men, but women and children are also enjoying the scenic beauty of Himalayas from the sky. Some paragliders have special arrangements to take photographs by specially designed cameras to make this moment unforgettable. Ridhvi Jain from Delhi adds, “It was icy cold when I was flying. I felt like my tears had turned ice. Mountains, valleys, rivers and snow look completely different from the sky. It’s one of the best things I ever did in my life.”
Roshan Lal, a young paragliding pilot, said among couples paragliding is most desired by women. “Time has changed. Now women are more adventurous than the men. Many time men avoid flying but their female partners insist on jumping off from a mountain face as fast as we can do,” he said. According to him, flying paraglider is totally dependent on the air and their union is taking special care of safety. “Taking off from the icy mountain face is sometime difficult but landing on snow is totally safe. To add to the thrill of the tourists, we land on snow in a way so that both pilot and tourists keep on skidding on it for a while.”
The road towards Rohtang pass has blocked permanently with snow for few months and the entire tourist flow is diverting towards Solang valley. Hovering of the paragliders over the valley is forcing almost all the tourist to try hand for just Rs 700 at least once.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Winter Carnival 2014 kicks off in Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: With about 50 tableaus from across the country, escorted by beats of traditional drums and trumpets, showcased their art and culture after taking blessings from Goddess Hadimba temple, set the stage of five-day-long Winter Carnival for colourful programmes on Thursday.
A tableau in Winter Carnival Manali - 2014

 Third national Winter Carnival, which is being celebrated since 1977 with purpose to attract more and more tourists during off-season, drew attention of both tourists and local residents. The cultural processions started from circuit house and ended at Mall Road. Hundreds of tourists thronged both sides of the Mall Road to witness the blend of art, culture and ancient living style of people of Kullu.
In addition to about 40 mahila mandals of Kullu, over 25 cultural troupes from various parts of the country took part in procession. Similar cultural processions of tableaus would come on the road every day for five days. Manu Rangshala, an open air amphitheatre in Manali, will present dancing, singing, talent shows and other hundreds of cultural and entertaining programmes for five days.
Cultural troupe from Assam in Winter Carnival, Manali
Tourists also got to see culture of Maharashtra, Gujarat, MP, Punjab, J&K, Assam and many other states. Women of local mahila mandals depicted the ancient village lifestyle of Kullu and also sent message to save environment, women empowerment besides presenting ancient techniques of agriculture in Kullu.
For the convenience of tourists, large screens have been installed on Mall Road where they can see live performances. To make them feel the taste of local cuisines, which are not cooked in any restaurant, food stalls have been installed by local mahila mandals and self help groups. Tourists also get the glimpse of weaving industry of Kullu.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who inaugurated the carnival, emphasized upon the preservation of the culture and natural beauty of Kullu district to attract more tourists. Years after demand to increase the capacity of Manu Rangshala which has congested due to increasing population, he directed Kullu administration to search for a new land in town where the Rangshala could be relocated. He also declared opening of Hamta pass for tourism activities.
Manali Winter Carnival: Women in traditional Himachal dress
Kullu deputy commissioner Rakesh Kanwar who is also the president of the carnival organizing committee said tourists and locals can enjoy folk dances, western dances, fashion shows, singing competitions, laughter shows, winter queen contest and variety of other programmes. “Winter Carnival is a platform to make tourists apprised of the Himachali culture and tradition. All arrangements have been made for their entertainment for five days,” he said.
Kullu superintendent of police Vinod K Dhawan said security has been stepped up in the town and movement of all the people is being recorded in CCTV cameras.