Heavy snowfall in parts of Kullu-Manali, Lahaul-Spiti and Mandi districts left traffic interrupted in many major roads while nearly 200 tourists stranded near Manali on Thursday.
Hundreds of tourists had reached Gulaba and Kothi to see snowfall on Thursday morning. As it was snowing fast, tourists were asked to descend down to Kothi. Ignoring warning, many tourists stayed below Gulaba. Some tourists walked along the highway towards Gulaba. Later vehicles started slipping on the road and they got stranded.
After getting news about tourists getting stranded, local administration, police and rescue volunteers rushed to Gulaba to carry out relief operation. All tourists were brought back to Manali by late evening.
Manali sub-divisional magistrate Raman Gharsangi said tourists were not allowed to go beyond Gulaba on Thursday but some tourists were reported to have stranded below Gulaba. “The road had become very slippery. The tourists were brought to safe place with help of police, taxi union and other volunteers. Situation is under control,” he said.
Solang valley and Kothi near Manali have experienced season’s first snowfall. Both places have received nearly 10cm of snow. Entire Lahaul valley is also covered with a thin layer of white blanket. Jalori pass in Kullu district that connects Anni and Nirmand sub-divisions with the headquarters has also witnessed season’s first snowfall, blocking the highway.
Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway has again closed after heavy snowfall. Rohtang pass has received over 60cm of fresh snow. Over 75cm of snow on Baralacha pass has blocked Keylong-Sarchu road as well. Heavy snowfall on Kunzum pass has blocked Gramphoo-Kaza road. The high hills of Mandi district including Shikari hills have also received snow.
The temperature in the state has dipped sharply after snowfall and rains. The minimum temperature of Keylong has dipped to minus 0.6 degree Celsius. Temperature of Manali (3.6), Shimla (5.7), Kalpa (2.5), Dharamshala (12.6) and Dalhousie (6.6) has also decreased.
According to Border Roads Organization officials, major parts of the Manali-Sarchu highway along Ladakh axis have received heavy snow but they shall clear snow soon after weather is clear.
38 Border Road Task Force commander Col Uma Shankar said chief engineer of Project Deepak of BRO visited the important locations on Sumdo-Gramphoo and Manali-Sarchu highways and reviewed the preparedness of snow clearance activities on Wednesday.
“He motivated jawans to keep working under inhospitable circumstances. The roads are blocked due to heavy snow. We recommend using skid chains in the tyres as road surface has become too slippery. The road will be cleared after snowfall stops,” he added.
Snowfall has brought cheer to the hoteliers of Manali. The tourists can now see snow near the tourist town throughout the winter season. If snow melts away from Solang, Kothi, Gulaba and Marhi, tourists can be allowed to go till Rohtang pass.