A view of snow covered Kaza headquarters of Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh (Press Trust of India)
Himachal Pradesh's capital Shimla and popular tourist resort Manali today got another spell of snowfall, turning the hill stations more picturesque.
As news of the snowfall flashed across the plains, tourists started arriving at Manali and Shimla, the hospitality industry members said.
"Shimla and its nearby tourist spots have been receiving snowfall since morning," an official of the Meteorological Department told IANS.
The residents of Shimla shivered as icy winds brought down the minimum temperature to 1 degree Celsius.
It started snowing in Manali around midnight, much to the delight of those in the hospitality industry.
The snow was certain to draw tourists and visitors, they said, though the minimum temperature in the town slipped to sub-zero 0.8 degree Celsius.
Shimla's nearby tourist spots like Kufri and Narkanda and the ski slopes in Solang in upper Manali also experienced fresh spell of snowfall.
The snowfall, however, blocked highways and roads in many parts of the state.
Towns in upper Shimla hills were cut off with heavy snow cover piled on roads, officials said.
Traffic movement beyond Dhalli, 10 km from Shimla, was suspended since a large stretch of Hindustan-Tibet Road disappeared under a thick layer of snow.
The entire Kinnaur district and towns in Shimla district such as Narkanda, Jubbal, Kotkhai, Kumarsain, Kharapathar, Rohru and Chopal are cut off due to snow, a government official told IANS.
"High-altitude areas of Lahaul-Spiti, Chamba, Kullu, Kinnaur, Sirmaur and Shimla districts have been experiencing moderate to heavy snow," said the Met official.
Rain lashed lower areas of the state such as Dharamsala, Palampur, Solan, Nahan, Bilaspur, Una, Hamirpur and Mandi, pulling down both night and day temperatures.
The minimum temperature was 4.4 degrees Celsius in Dharamsala, which received 12.8 mm of rain, and 1 degree below the freezing point in Kalpa in Kinnaur district, which recorded 13 cm snow.
Tourism industry representatives are happy after the snow.
D.P. Bhatia, general manager of Clarke's Hotel in Shimla, said it was really nice that Shimla and its nearby destinations saw the good spell of snow.
"It will definitely attract the tourists in the days to come," he added.
Tourist Naveen Sikka said: "We are lucky to see snowfall in Shimla."
The Met Office forecast said western disturbances - storm systems originating in the Caspian Sea and moving across the Afghanistan-Pakistan region - would remain active till Thursday, bringing more rain and snow.
For the hill people, this obviously augurs well, an official said.