Thursday, 21 November 2013

Himachal close to get a new tourist destination

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Tourists visiting Himachal Pradesh may soon get a world class eco-friendly tourist destination as Hamta in Kullu valley which is close to open for tourists in few months.
A team of officials from tourism and civil aviation, administration, forest department and local stakeholders led by Manali sub-divisional magistrate Vinay Dhiman visited Hamta to check its feasibility as a tourist destination on Thursday. According to sources, the team found everything right and Hamta may open for tourists after inauguration by chief minister during Winter Carnival in January 2014.
The main challenge for safe conduct of the tourism activity in Hamta is approach road to Hamta from Manali with more than 40 hairpin bends and large gradients at some points. The team found that road was worth taking the load of tourist crowd. Road to Hamta is under jurisdiction of Allain Duhangan Hydropower Ltd (ADHPL) which has commissioned its 192 MW hydropower projects here.
Dhiman said that plan is to promote Hamta has an eco-friendly tourist destination and a sub-committee will be formed to prepare a detailed report on Hamta. He said, “The committee will forward its report to ADHPL authority for final approval. We checked the various aspects like safety, security and conservation of environment. The number of vehicles and tourists will be restricted to Hamta to conserve the natural resources here.”
He said ADHPL authority will be requested to co-operate with them in promotion of the new tourist destination. Hamta is famous for least seen exotic and beautiful locations along with ski slopes, religious sites, old trekking trails and wildlife. Dhiman said that joint inspection of Hamta has brought positive results and now they were looking forward for co-operation from ADHPL. “If Hamta opens for tourists, it will also decongest Rohtang pass by drawing traffic.”

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Rescue posts to monitor pedestrians on Rohtang pass

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Rescue posts consisting medical staff, rescue experts, police and wireless operators will monitor the movement of pedestrians across Rohtang pass from today.
As the risk of very heavy snowfall has increased with regular dip in temperature and traffic on Manali-Rohtang-Keylong road may come to a halt anytime, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (ABVIMAS), Manali, has set up its two rescue posts in either side of Rohtang on Friday which are functional from Saturday.
Rescue posts set up on Rohtang pass
Saying that it is advised to everybody not to cross Rohtang without getting registered in both the posts at Marhi (Kullu) and Koksar (Lahaul) before and after crossing the pass, ABVIMAS director Randhir Singh Salhuria said that purpose of setting up the posts is to monitor movement of pedestrians who cross Rohtang pass to go to Kullu or Lahaul valley. “Each post will consist of 10 members,” he said.
Earlier, Rohtang used to declare officially closed for vehicular traffic on November 15, but the pass was not declared closed officially so far. Lahaul-Spiti deputy commissioner Beer Singh Thakur said administration will not declare the pass officially closed until Border Road Organization does so. “If weather turns hostile and passing through the pass will be unsafe, we will issue a public advisory not to go towards Rohtang pass. However, crossing pass is necessity of local people and we shall keep a watch over the weather conditions,” he said.
Gopal Sharma, regional manager of Himachal Road Transport Corporation, said one bus will be plying the Kullu-Keylong road until heavy snowfall blocks the highway. “We have planned to run two buses – one from Kullu and one from Keylong – every morning which will transfer their passengers at Rohtang pass. This is to ensure the safety of passengers even if sudden snowfall occurs.”
(with inputs from Discover Leh Ladakh)

Friday, 8 November 2013

Heavy snowfall blocks Manali-Leh highway

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Manali-Rohtang-Leh highway has been blocked for traffic following heavy snowfall in mid and high hills of Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti districts of Himachal and a fresh wave of cold has gripped the entire state on Thursday.
Tourists enjoy snowfall at Gulaba near Manali

Rohtang pass, 51km from here, is covered under 60cm of fresh snow while Baralacha pass in Lahaul valley has received more than 75cm fresh snow. Manali-Spiti road has also blocked after 45cm snowfall on Kunzum pass. Jalori pass on Kullu-Anni highway has also received some snow. Given the safety of the tourists, Manali police restricted movement of tourists to Kothi, 13km from here, till 12pm. Later when snowfall stopped, tourists were allowed to go till Gulaba, 19km from here.
Lahaul-Spiti deputy commissioner Beer Singh Thakur said vehicular traffic on Keylong-Leh highway has come to a complete halt after heavy snowfall. “The entire valley is getting intermittent snowfall. We are able to handle all type of situations arising due to heavy snowfall,” he said. While district headquarters Keylong received some overnight snow, Koksar, Darcha, Sissu, Telangbe and dozens of villages of valley are below more than 10cm thick blanket of snow. Bad weather condition has left many villages without electricity since Tuesday.
Manali-Kothi highway remained jammed with traffic till noon after hundreds of tourist vehicles made a beeline on Manali-Rohtang highway. After ensuring safety of tourists, vehicles were allowed only upto lower Gulaba where 5cm fresh snowfall entertained them for the whole day. Till the last reports from Gulaba, tourists were not being allowed to go beyond Kothi village as heavy snowfall had again started in Gulaba area. A police official said that vehicles start slipping on the snow and all necessary precautions were being taken for the safety of the tourists.
Meanwhile, Border Roads Organization has started its snow clearance operation to restore traffic on Manali-Rohtang-Keylong road. If snowfall continues, Keylong-Leh highway will be blocked till next summer season. Local meteorological department has forecast for more snowfall on Friday and residents are preparing to face to coming harsh winters.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Winter sets in; Lahaul valley prepares to get disconnected from the world

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI/ KEYLONG: First snowfall of winter season in most parts of Lahaul valley has rang the bells of fierce winter this year. Bringing down the mercury to sub zero temperatures, entire Miyar valley of Lahaul including Rohtang pass and Baralacha-la experienced heavy snowfall upto 45cm since Thursday early morning.
Fresh snowfall in Miyar valley of Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh

Rohtang pass received 15cm fresh snow but snow accumulation was 5 to 10cm in Miyar valley. District headquarter Keylong witnessed shower of some snowflakes but Baralacha-la received 45cm fresh snow. Lahaul-Spiti district administration called on a meeting of all departments to review the preparations before getting disconnected from rest of the country for next six months. Essential commodities like LPG, kerosene, medicines, fuel wood, diesel and ration are being stocked as heavy snowfall may block all roads leading to the district any time.
Lahaul-Spiti deputy commissioner Beer Singh Thakur said most of the commodities have been stocked while efforts are being made to stock remaining things as soon as possible. “Majority of portion of ration, fuel, firewood, seeds, LPG and medicines has arrived in valley. Remaining commodities like fertilizers are on their way. I had a meeting with officials of all departments on Thursday and reviewed preparations for winter months,” he said.
District administration has come into action after sudden snowfall. A detailed plan was made on how relief would be provided to the residents in case of heavy snowfall. Thakur said that some people were putting their lives in danger by driving across the Baralacha pass and they have decided to stop vehicular traffic on Keylong-Leh road after next spell of snowfall.
Thakur adds, “We have a little time to make all arrangements before getting disconnected with other parts of the state. Heavy snowfall may cut all road links for many months any time now onwards. Our priority is safety of the residents, their medical care, disaster management, ration and fuel. Orders have been passed to all departments to make all arrangements within few days.”
Neeraj Thakur from Shukto village of Miyar said, “It was snowing heavily in the early morning. We have not made all arrangements for the winter yet. It’s freezing cold here and white mantle has covered almost entire Lahaul.” Residents are done with all agricultural works. They will spend most of their time before tandoor by playing cards, weaving socks or by doing anything to spend time. The worse condition comes to them when someone falls ill and bad weather does not allow helicopter to enter the valley.
Fearing closure of roads, many residents have started migrating to Kullu and other parts of the state. Those who are outside Lahaul valley for necessary shopping are returning back home. Once snowfall will block are modes of surface transport, emergency helicopter service will be the only mode of transport for thousands of residents.

Rohtang may remain open till late December
MANALI: It is a big relief for 28 panchayats of Lahaul that Manali-Rohtang highway is not closed officially on October 31. Last year the highway was announced to be closed on the same day.
Border Roads Organization (BRO) has decided to keep the Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway open as long as it is possible. BRO has launched various maintenance works including widening of the highway in Lahaul. Jawans will keep working even during the winter months. Organization has decided to clear the road after moderate snowfall. Opening of the road will provide extended time period to the Rohtang tunnel project in digging of the tunnel from Lahaul side.
38 Border Road Task Force (BRTF) commander Colonel Yogesh Nair said, “Depending on the weather conditions, we shall try to keep the road open as long as possible. We are carrying out road widening work and will try to work until heavy snowfall blocks the highway permanently for many months.”
District administration is responsible for announcement of the official closure of the road. Officially closing of the road means administration recommends not to drive on the road. People, however, can drive on road but will be responsible for any mishap due to inclement weather conditions or other reason. Generally BRO doesn’t clear snow form the highway after official closure of the road but its officials, who find difficulty working on the road due to high tourist flow in summers, will take advantage in the light snowfall and work until heavy snowfall makes working impossible.