Shimla: Chuckling snow-clad peaks on the horizon of Himachal Pradesh`s popular tourist destinations are luring visitors to the state`s hills.
Hospitality industry representatives say timely onset of winter is a good indication of bountiful business this season. The high hills of Kullu, Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts have been experiencing snowfall since Wednesday night.
The Met Office here said the higher reaches experienced more snowfall early on Friday, turning the hills more picturesque. Keylong, the district headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti, saw 2 cm snow.
"There is a sudden surge in the tourist arrival, mainly due to the snowfall. Most tourists prefer to visit those destinations from where they can enjoy the view of snow-laden hills," Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corp (HPTDC) general manager Yogesh Behl said.
The HPTDC has 57 economy and high-end hotels across the state and is offering some discount on room tariffs.
Behl said most tourists, mainly from the northern states, have been heading towards Shimla, Narkanda, Manali, Dalhousie, Dharamsala, Palampur and Sangla in Kinnaur district. "This weekend we are expecting a good rush of tourists," he added.
The mountain peaks viewed from Shimla`s historic Ridge have been wrapped in a thick white blanket of snow.
"What a soothing, refreshing experience it is to see these charming white hills, especially during sunrise. I have captured nature`s bounty in my camera," Nikita Bhalla, a tourist from Delhi, remarked while watching the Kinnaur range from Shimla.
Likewise, the peaks overlooking the popular tourist resorts like Manali, Dharamsala and Palampur have got fresh snow.
According to the meteorological office, the chances of more snowfall in high hills this month are quite bright.
"As the temperature plummeted considerably in higher reaches after the snowfall, chances of more snow, even in mid-hills like Shimla, Kufri, Narkanda and Dalhousie, are good by next month," meteorological department director Manmohan Singh said.
Picturesque tourist resort of Manali in Kullu district experienced a moderate spell of snow Oct 22.
"Around 8,000-10,000 tourists arrive in Manali and its nearby areas these days. This weekend, 20,000 are expected," district tourism officer Rajeshwar Goel said.
The Rohtang Pass, located at an altitude of 13,050 feet and 51 km from Manali, has been closed for the tourists after snowfall.
Goel, who is based in Manali, said the tourists bound for the Rohtang Pass are not allowed to move beyond Gulaba, 19 km from Manali. At Gulaba, the tourists can enjoy snow-scooters and snow-sledge rides and hurling snowballs at each other, he said.
"Trekking in the Rohtang Pass area has also been banned. Even locals are not allowed to cross the pass on foot due to possibility of more snowfall," he added.
Kullu district`s higher reaches, including the Pir Panjal, Brighu, Chaderkhani, Hampta, Gulaba and Dhundi, experienced snowfall.
Shimla recorded a low of 5.4 degrees Celsius on Friday against Thursday`s 8 degrees.
Likewise, Kalpa, a picturesque town 250 km from Shimla, recorded a minimum temperature of 1 degree, Dharamsala in Kangra district recorded 8.2 degrees, Bhuntar in Kullu district registered 8.6 degrees and Keylong recorded 0.6 degree.
These towns on Thursday saw a low of 2.4 degrees, 10.3 degrees, 9.4 degrees and 0.4 degree respectively.