Manali: With temperature dipping below zero degrees Celsius in Manali and an intense cold wave gripping the valley-the popular hill destination with a forecast of snow, Manali is all set to beat the pre-covid winter rush of tourists.
Manali’s Mall Road and the sprawling Rohang overlooking Manali valley, – an old landmark, are already seeing a fresh footfall of tourists.
A moderate snowfall here this morning after a sudden change in the weather right ahead of New Year’s eve had raised hopes of hotel owners of eventful days ahead. After many years they were predicting the possibility of good snow this year.
Assem Singal, who runs a homestay located in Karjan near Manali, says he was all sold-out till January 8. According to him, this year’s trend could surpass the tourist rush of all previous pre-Covid years.
There are long queues of tourists’ vehicles at the entry points of the town and popular Spots like Rohtang Tunnel.
In Manali, the tourists head straight to Rohtang Tunnel to enjoy the journey through the world’s highest tunnel which has become one of the biggest selling points for Manali tourism.
However, considering the possibilities of sudden weather change, the Lahaul-Spiti administration has temporarily issued a restricted warning to the tourists for not venturing towards Rohtang Tunnel or Sissu (the north portal).
A snowstorm hit the Lahaul valley which left the police with no choice but to order the tourists to leave the valley immediately. Police have also imposed restrictions on the tourists’ vehicles beyond Sissu.
“Biggest attraction for Manali is snow and the Rohtang Tunnel. Now, because people could not really travel abroad due to the fear of the Omicron, they are reaching the hill destinations of Manali even though the condition of National Highway between Mandi and Kullu remains quite a concern” says Sunil Sharma, a hotelier at Manali.
The entire tribal belt is reeling under extreme cold forcing people to stay inside, especially after 4 pm. The temperature at Spiti, the cold deserts of Himachal Pradesh, has already dropped to minus 14 degrees.
The traffic towards Lahaul through Atal Tunnel at Rohtang has been restricted after a snowstorm on its North Portal.
Lahaul-Spiti Superintendent of Police Manav Verma said only local vehicles; tourist cars and taxis with four-wheel drive are being allowed through the tunnel. The vehicles going from Lahaul towards Pangi are also allowed.