Himachal Pradesh witnessed early heavy snowfall on Sunday with most hill resorts covered under a thick blanket of snow. The state usually receives heavy snow spells in January and February.
Manali, a popular resort 280 km from here, is under two feet of snow and is cut off from the rest of the state. “There is about two feet of snow in Manali and there’s no power,” said Sachin Bhamba, a Manali-based hotelier.
Hundreds of tourists were rescued from the hills overlooking Manali leading to the 13,050-feet high Rohtang pass late on Saturday by the authorities.
“Some 600 tourists were evacuated from the high hills and brought to Manali,” said Vinay Dhiman, sub-divisional magistrate, Manali. The Rohtang pass is a popular tourist destination but it is also known for sudden blizzards, which kill people every year.
Normal life was thrown out gear in the state capital, Shimla, which received moderate snowfall. Traffic was brought to a halt at most places. Beyond Shimla, traffic was not plying on the Hindustan Tibet road, passing through the ski resorts of Kufri and Narkanda. The tribal belt of Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti, too, received snowfall.
“The wet spell will continue for the next 24 hours,” said local weather office chief Manmohan Singh.
Early snowfall is considered good for crop. The mid-hills produce apple and other fruits such as cherry, apricot, pear and peach. It is also known for off-season vegetable cultivation.