Shimla: The bold and young were out in strength, crowding out the regular visitors in the city centre as the festive mood caught on when a shower of snowflakes intensified as New Years eve approached and celebrations broke out.
Hotels and resorts have lined up bonfire evening to ring in the New Year, some have arranged for live concerts, discotheques are booked and walk-ins have to pay an premium to get entry, posse of policemen moved above guardedly to contain hooliganism which is partly permitted for the day and the mild snowfall only added to the festive mood out here.
Taking a break from suffocating working hours at a call centre in Chandigarh, Surabhi Manocha said, â€œits fun to be out here.â€
Amidst the swelling a crowd a group students broke out in dance to the popular tune of â€˜Sheela ki Jawaniâ€™ playing out from a cell phone as the days high temperature did not cross 4.4 degree Celsius.
The nights temperature dipped to just a notch up freezing point, with the met office recording a low of 0.1 degree Celsius.
With a perfect backdrop for a photo opportunity, most visitors did click away the mandatory portrait pictures as flakes fell with the Christ Church in the background.
Chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, joined the festive crowd by taking a stroll of the The Mall Shimla, greeting local people and tourists for the New Year.
Hotels close to The Mall Road were packed, while those in the outskirts were still checking in late arrivals.
Tourism officer Surinder Justa put a count at about 80 thousand tourists who had converged onto Shimla for marking the start of 2011 and the passing out of the year going by.
â€œWe are maintaining a vigil to ensure that there is no overcharging by hotel owners, taxi services, tourist guides and by porters,â€ said Justa.
Speaking about the programs lined up for the evening, Vijay Sharma, an area manager Himachal Tourism Corp said, â€œat Hotel Holiday Home and Peterhoff we have a gala evening planned and at Naldhera there is barbeque by the bonfire lined up.â€
Police was out in full force to contain hooliganism and rowdiness. Traffic was congested and policemen were having a tough time keeping it moving.
Additional superintended police AK Dhiman said, â€œtraffic congestion was reported at Charabbra, where vehicles were skidding because of snow on the roads.”