Srinagar/Shimla/Nainital: The spell of heavy snowfall which has paralysed Kashmir on Saturday had in its grip Himachal Pradesh too while the tourist town of Nainital in Uttarakhand experienced a flurry of white after a gap of two years.
The first heavy snowfall of the season in Shimla and Kinnaur region of Himachal Pradesh disrupted traffic, telecommunication links and supply of power and water while large number of tourists were stranded.
Vehicular traffic was brought to a halt beyond Shoghi, 13 km from Shimla which received 40 cm of snow till this noon. Key tourist resorts of Kufri, Fagu and Narkanda had 45-55 cm of snow. Authorities have warned of medium avalanche in high hilly and tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh.
Traffic has been suspended on Kullu-Manali road due to slippery road conditions and 30 state-run buses were stranded at various places. Rohtang Pass and adjoining areas were covered under a 60-cm thick blanket of snow.
Cold conditions have intensified in the entire northern India, with mercury dropping sharply in Shimla to 0.2 degrees. The snowfall and rains also ended a dry spell in the region, bringing cheer to farmers including apple growers in the hill states as the wet weather is good for the Rabi crops.
Kashmir Valley remained cut off from the rest of the country for the second day due to heavy snowfall in many areas over the past four days while the mercury fell below freezing point at most places with Gulmarg recording the lowest at minus 8.4 degrees Celsius.
The arterial Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remained closed for the second consecutive day due to heavy snowfall and landslides.
Srinagar city, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and other weather stations across the valley recorded minimum temperature close to freezing point. More snowfall and rain has been predicted in the Valley over the next 24 hours.
In Uttarakhand, a number of places located above 2000 metres in both Kumaon and Garhwal regions received fresh snow including Nainital and Mussoorie while it has rained in most places in the plains, state MeT Director Vikram Singh said.
The mountain peaks of Dhanolti near Mussoorie were covered in a white sheet while 'Chardham,' the four famous Himalayan shrines, are too covered with snow, he said. The lake city of Nainital experienced its first snowfall in almost two years. It was raining since late night while snowfall started in the morning.
The picturesque snow clad peaks provided a visual treat to toursits who flocked the city for the weekend. Kilbury, Ayaarpatta, Naina Peak and Snow View had more snow than lower parts of the town.
It was in February 2015 only when Nainital experienced a little amount of snowfall. It was a dry winter in 2016, causing an alarming drop in water level of Naini lake. "This is a very good sign for environment as well as winter crops," said environmentalist Ritesh Sah after the snowfall and rains.