The 40 days of intense cold in Kashmir, called Chillai Kalan, ended on Sunday on a comparatively warmer note.
The minimum temperature in Srinagar was -1.6°Celsius over -2.3°C of previous night. Pahalgam was at -4.8°C over -7°C on January 29.
Chillai Kalan, which starts on December 21, was harsh last year, when the temperatures dipped to -8°C.
Ali Mohamnad, a local resident, said, “This Chillai Kalan was kind enough. Last year, we faced a lot of problems. Even the water pipes in our homes were frozen.”
Shabir Tuman, a shikara owner, said, “Snowfall is important in this season. The glaciers help us get water throughout the year. There was little snowfall this Chillai Kalan in the plains, but the mountains got good snowfall.”
Chillai Kalan is a Persian word roughly meaning bigger cold for heavy snowfall and harsh cold. Chillai Kalan is followed by 20-day long Chillai khurd (meaning small cold) and 10 days of Chillai Bacha (baby cold). In folklore, these periods are talked about like demons.
Abdul Ahad, an elderly from the region, said he has witnessed snow cover going as high as 8 feet outside his home in Anantnag. “People were forced to eat dried vegetables and Kangri was the only source of warmth,” he said.
Snowfall in Kashmir is the only source of water for drinking, irrigation and production of hydroelectricity. Experts say that like other Himalayan states, the glaciers in Kashmir are melting at a higher rate due to global warming.
The Metrological Centre in Srinagar has predicted light rain and snowfall on February 1.