Srinagar-Jammu Highway, Mughal Road, SSG Highway Closed
SRINAGAR, Feb 1: The residents of Kashmir finally woke up on Thursday to a beautiful sight as they were greeted by a white blanket of snow. This marked the end of a two-month-long dry spell, bringing happiness and joy to the locals and tourists.
Most parts of the Kashmir, mainly plains, received season’s first snowfall as winter’s harshest period – Chillai Kalan – went snowless and registered as driest winter spell ever.
Late night snowfall, in plains including Srinagar, brought cheer to people and caught them by surprise with netizens sharing videos and photos on various social media sites expressing joy. Chillai Kalan, the 40-day harshest winter period that starts on December 21 every year and ends on January 31, went almost snowless with the Kashmir Valley witnessing unusual weather conditions this winter.
The “snowless” winter had brought disappointment to locals and tourists alike. No snow in the Valley had taken sheen of it, which otherwise would mesmerise people with white landscape during winter.
The long-awaited snowfall in Gulmarg, a popular ski resort, and other hill stations in Kashmir has not only brought joy to tourists but has also uplifted the local tourism industry. For two months, the land had remained dry, causing concern among tourism stakeholders who depend on visitors for their livelihoods.
Hotels were empty, ski slopes were barren, and markets were silent during the dry spell. However, the recent snowfall has reignited hope and anticipation among tourism stakeholders.
An official at the Metrological Department Srinagar told Kashmir Despatch that the Srinagar city, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, recorded a low of 3.6 degrees Celsius.
Pahalgam recorded a minimum temperature of minus 0.7 degrees Celsius, Qazigund 2.0 degrees Celsius, Kokernag 0.5 degrees Celsius and Kupwara 1.7 degrees Celsius.
Gulmarg registered a low of minus 3.2 degrees Celsius and was the only place in the valley that registered a sub-zero night temperature.
The weatherman has predicted isolated to scattered light rain/snow over the next 24 hours in Jammu and Kashmir.
It said there is a possibility of widespread light to moderate rain or snow over the next two days.
Meanwhile, the Jammu-Srinagar national highway remained closed for traffic on Thursday due to a landslip in the Ramban district, leaving over 200 vehicles stranded; however, the Baramulla-Banihal train service in Jammu and Kashmir continued its operations.
A traffic official told Kashmir Despatch that the landslide took place in Sherbibi area of the district, which also witnessed heavy rains.
He said work is on to reopen the highway for traffic but incessant rains in the Ramban-Banihal sector were proving to be an impediment.
The officer also advised people to avoid journey on the highway till the weather improves and the road is clear.
However, reports reaching Kashmir Despatch said that over 200 vehicles are stranded at different points of the 270-km highway.
Meanwhile, authorities have issued an avalanche warning in the higher reaches of six districts of Jammu and Kashmir during the next 12 hours.
Both Srinagar-Leh road and Mughal road have been closed due to snow accumulation.
SSP Traffic Rural Kashmir, Ravinder Paul Singh told Kashmir Despatch that the Srinagar Leh Road has been temporarily closed for traffic due to heavy snowfall, especially at Zojila Stretch.
When asked if Zojila Road will remain closed, he mentioned that the decision will be taken in the next few days.
He said following the fresh snowfall along Srinagar-Sonamarg-Gumri Road and Mughal Road, no traffic will be allowed on these highways on Friday. Mughal road still blocked & Traffic could not be released on SSG road due to slippery conditions,” SSP said.
Suhail Khan is a filmmaker, content writer, and freelance journalist.