Shimla: The National Winter Carnival got off to a colourful start at the key tourist resort of Manali, presenting a fascinating look under the thick carpet of white snow.
Hundreds of people braving the intense cold turned up at the venue -- `Manu Kala Kendra` -- to see the carnival get inaugurated by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.
Addressing the gathering, Singh described the state`s diverse culture and rich heritage as its main strength and said efforts need to be taken to preserve it.
Referring to Jawaharlal Nehru`s special love of for Manali, Singh said the India`s first Prime Minister made frequent visits to Manali and loved the people of the state.
The Chief Minister also highlighted the efforts being taken by the state government to strengthen tourism infrastructure and to turn the state into a developed one in the next five years.
"Since its inception, Himachal has made tremendous efforts in various fields, but to give further impetus to development, the government would accord highest priority to education, road, power and industry and its endeavour would be to make the state self-reliant," Singh said.
Welcoming the Chief Minister, local MLA and Chief Patron of the carnival, Govind Thakur, said the state has widely benefited from decades of Virbhadra Singh`s governance.
He urged the Chief Minister to implement the vision document prepared by Delhi School of Planning and Architect for development of Manali town and also to sanction Institute of Hotel Management for Manali.
Later speaking at a function here, Singh said the state government has taken up the issue of reviving of air services to Kullu-Manali with the Prime Minister and Union Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister.
Describing Manali as one of the most beautiful and famous tourist destination, Singh said it was the duty of locals, hoteliers and tourists to maintain ecological balance of the region.
The government would provide all possible help to make Manali a tourist paradise by providing best services, he said.