Shimla: A white blanket of snow covered much of the landscape here as tourists poured into Himachal Pradesh towns of Shimla, Chail, Kasauli, Manali and Dalhousie on Wednesday.
Parts of upper Shimla and the link to Manali were cut off with heavy snow piled on roads, officials said.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur directed all the Deputy Commissioners to ensure essential services. He wanted them to be in place at the earliest and appealed to the public to be more alert.
Traffic movement beyond Dhalli, 10 km from the state capital, was suspended since a large stretch of Hindustan-Tibet Road was under a thick blanket of snow.
“Shimla and its nearby areas have been experiencing snowfall and this was the heaviest snowfall till date,” an official of the Meteorological Department here told IANS.
Nearby places like Kufri and Narkanda also experienced snowfall, turning the destinations more picturesque.
As news of the snowfall spread, tourists flocked to this resort destination, known for the imperial grandeur of its buildings that were once institutions of power when the town served as the summer capital of British India.
“For the past many days we had been awaiting heavy spell of snow,” Nidhi Khanna, a tourist from Chandigarh, who was in Shimla along with her friends, told IANS.
Shimla, which saw a low of minus 0.5 degrees Celsius, recorded more than 20 cm of snowfall, while Kufri and Mashobra recorded more than 40 cm of snowfall each.
The snowy landscape in Shimla will stay this way for two-three days, an official of the Met Office said.
Reports said apple-growing Jubbal, Kharapathar and Chopal in Shimla district also experienced snow.
Manali, which experienced a low of minus 2.2 degrees Celsius, recorded 22 cm of snow. The Rohtang Pass, some 52 km from Manali, also witnessed heavy snowfall.
Kalpa, 250 km from the state capital, and Keylong in Lahaul and Spiti district experienced snow. These towns saw the night temperature fall to 2.8 degrees and 5.6 degrees Celsius below the freezing point, respectively.
Solan and Palampur towns recorded 46 mm and 42 mm rainfall, respectively.
“Over 500 routes in the interiors of Shimla, Kullu, Chamba, Mandi, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts have been closed,” an official of Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), told IANS.
Manmohan Singh, director of the meteorological office here, said heavy rainfall or snowfall is likely to occur in Solan, Shimla, Sirmaur, Bilaspur, Mandi, Kullu and Kinnaur districts. The weather will be clear after January 9.
He said another western disturbance is likely to hit Western Himalayan region from January 11, bringing more rain and snowfall.