MANALI: Covered with thick blanket of snow, the Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal is reeling under intense cold wave conditions with temperature plunging below minus 20 degrees C at some places.
With frozen water sources, some places including Kaza and Keylong are facing water shortage. Temperature in Kibber, Komic, Hikkim, Demul and some higher villages in Spiti and Koksar in Lahaul has plunged below minus 20 degrees C. Spiti, where even hand pumps have frozen, residents are lighting fire around the pumps and taps in effort to get water from it.
Keylong, where temperature is expected to dip below minus 15 degrees C in next few days recorded lowest temperature of minus 9 degrees C on Friday. Both minimum and maximum temperatures in state have increased by 3 to 4 degrees C in last few days but the temperature is expected by dip drastically by the end of the month. An official working with Rohtang tunnel project said mercury in Lahaul at north portal of the tunnel is dipping up to minus 25 degrees C in nighttime.
“Many villages have no drinking water available. They are bringing water from the river. Thankfully, Keylong has some running taps,” a resident from Keylong Suneel Bodh said. He added that the district is getting less snow but has more cold this season. “We are spending time in skiing and indoor games. Lahaul is celebrating Halda, a local festival, which is observed in different valleys on different time. We dance, eat and have fun. We have nothing much to do.”
Gyaltsen Norbu, a resident of Spiti said, “Spiti is situated at high altitude but receives less snow compared to lower regions. But we face coldest winters of Himachal. Freezing of taps and all drinking water sources is the main problem. Even the fuel in vehicles is freezing. You can see people lighting fire below diesel engines to make it start every morning.”
Koksar is one of the coldest villages of Lahaul valley. The village is surrounded by dozens of avalanche prone areas. Over 95 per cent of the residents have vacated their houses and have moved to warmer areas in Kullu to spend cozy winters.
January and February are the extreme winter months in Lahaul-Spiti district. This is the time when even Indian style and western style commodes are left useless by cold at many places as their bottoms get frozen. The residents then use traditional toilets that don’t freeze in winters.
Youth generally spend time playing indoor games, the hardworking women of the district weave socks, caps, gloves and other handcrafts. Villagers spend time in removing snow from roof. At some places residents bask in sun for the whole day while some villagers in windy area stay indoors.
Snow dress, shoes shops mint money
MANALI: Over 200 shops renting out snow dresses and shoes to tourists are minting money these days as extreme cold weather is forcing hundreds of tourists heading to Solang valley and nearby snow-points to get well dressed.
The snow dress and shoes renting shops are available along the Manali-Solang highway. Large numbers of families are dependent on these shops for their livelihood. Their earning totally depends on snow and cold. Good snowfall and extreme cold in upper Manali have come together as blessing for them.
A shopkeeper Sanjeev said: “The business is good since last week of December. If there is no snow and cold, tourists need not to hire the snow dress. Tourists generally do not bring heavy woollens with them. And those coming from warmer areas never buy heavy woollens. So they hire dress and shoes from us. This not only protects them from cold but tourists can have all kind of fun in snow without getting wet.”