Away from the heat of Lok Sabha elections, hundreds of tourists on Wednesday enjoyed unexpected summer snowfall at Gulaba, 23km from Manali.
While mercury in many parts of the country has jumped above 40 degrees Celsius, the peaks of Himachal are still getting fresh snow.
The temperature in many parts of Kullu, Chamba, Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur districts of Himachal has plunged close to freezing point.
The snowfall in mid-April has thrilled the hundreds of tourists at Gulaba near Manali. Gulaba, on the foothills of Rohtang pass, was opened for tourists on Tuesday after a gap of four months.
Gulaba received 5cm fresh snow while Rohtang pass is expected to have received nearly 15cm snow. Parts of Lahaul valley also received some snowflakes. Border Roads Organization (BRO) had cleared snow till Marhi, 17km short of Rohtang pass.
The fresh snowfall has affected the snow clearance operations. BRO wants to resume traffic on Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway before election on May 19.
Snowfall on high hills and rains in lower parts have triggered cold in upper Himachal. In Manali, residents have brought out sweaters and jackets from the closets.
Tourists staying in hotels were demanding for room heaters.
Manali sub-divisional magistrate Ashwani Kumar said tourists are allowed to go till Gulab where they can enjoy snow.
“There is no limit on number of vehicles and no permit is required to go till Gulaab. Once vehicles are allowed to go beyond Gulaba, only 1,300 tourist vehicles would be given the permit on daily basis. Gulaba has enough snow for tourists,” he said.
While snowfall has brought cheer among tourists and hoteliers, it has worried the fruit growers.
“Our apple orchards are under full blossom. A sudden drop in temperature is lethal for the crop. We pray almighty that snowfall on hills and drop in temperature should not have damaged the crop setting,” a fruit grower Girdhar Thakur said.