By Vishal Gulati
Shimla/Manali, May 21 (IANS) As life in the plains of northern India has started becoming unbearable with the temperature hovering around 46degree in some places, the the snow-clad peaks of Himachal Pradesh’s popular tourist resorts are luring visitors to the state.
“It’s really pleasant to be here (Manali),” said Tushar Vaid, a tourist from Delhi. “Even days are pleasant here at around 30 degrees Celsius compared to Delhi’s sizzling spell of weather,” Vaid’s wife Malvika added.
Hospitality industry representatives say the snowy landscape at Narkanda, Kalpa, Dharamsala, Palampur and Manali towns are drawing holiday-makers like magnets.
“There is a spike in tourist arrivals, mainly due to the prevailing hot weather in the plains. Most tourists are heading to those destinations from where they can enjoy the view of snow-laden hills and enjoy gurgling streams,” Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corp (HPTDC) general manager Yogesh Behl told IANS.
He said Shimla and its nearby destinations like Chail and Narkanda, Kalpa, Sangla and Chitkul in Kinnaur district and the entire Kullu-Manali region are chock-a-block with tourists, mainly from the northern states.
The HPTDC has 57 economy and high-end hotels across the state.
“What a soothing chill out to see these charming white hills,” Priyanka Arora, a tourist from Mumbai, remarked while watching the adjoining hills from Narkanda, the heart of the apple belt some 65 km from Shimla.
“Around 2,000-3,000 tourists are arriving daily in Manali. Their arrival will be doubled with onset of holidays in schools in the plains,” district tourism officer Vinay Dhiman said.
He said the maximum number of the tourists are heading to the Rohtang Pass, located at an altitude of 13,050 feet and 51 km from Manali.
Dhiman, who is based in Manali, said nearby areas of the Rohtang Pass are still under snow cover.
At the Rani Nullah, 5 km short of Rohtang, the tourists can enjoy snow-sledge rides and hurling snowballs at each other, he said.
Higher reaches in Kullu-Manali region, including the Pir Panjal, Brighu, Chaderkhani, Hampta, Gulaba and Dhundi, are wrapped in a thick blanket of white.
But a word of caution for the motorists travelling towards the Rohtang Pass from Manali.
The road beyond Kothi, 13 km from Manali, is treacherous as chances of landslides are high.
Even the state government has made it mandatory for people, travelling in a vehicle that does not bear Himachal Pradesh registration number, to hire a local taxi beyond Kothi.
A slew of accidents has led the government to ban plying of vehicles outside the state on Manali-Rohtang stretch, say officials.
Himachal Pradesh attracted 1.61 crore tourists, including 497,850 foreigners, in 2012, a state tourism department report said.
At present, 2,169 hotels having a bed capacity of 55,928 are registered with the state, it said.
The state economy is highly dependent on hydroelectric power, horticulture and tourism.