January 7, 2021

Winter Woes Of Kashmir

Winter is the coldest season of the year, starts from the month of December & ends in the month of March. December & January are the peak winter months and counted as the coldest months. Winter grips us in thick fog which often halts the weak sunlight, causing severe hardships to one and all. Masses are subjected to tough time amidst cold in the entire Kashmir valley. Our roads particularly Kashmir highway gets blocked by heavy snowfall, and travelling on it becomes very risky. Jammu-Srinagar highway and Mughal road pass through mountainous terrains, thus these two roads are susceptible to long traffic halts during heavy snowfall and inclement weather. Mughal road can be an all-weather road but needs upgradation and extensive official care. The valley is divided into two parts, plains and hilly terrains. Though people in plains don’t feel harsh winter as they avail all facilities, the worst hit are far flung and hilly populations. They get disconnected for few days to 4 months ,so they have to stock and pile up essential commodities in October only. Famous in the list are :-Peer ki gali, Ladakh areas, Karnah belt, Machil, Keran,Gurez , Budnambal, various areas of Poonch and Rajouri & whatnot these sites mostly became an eye catching for the reporters especially during winter. The inhabitants of the far-flung areas sometimes have to carry their patients on shoulders for 20- 30kms to reach good health facility , if somebody loses his life, he/she also needs to be carried on shoulders amid few feet of snow and below minus 10 degrees day temperature. Now the query triggering in our memory that if they can store solid and non-perishable items, what about perishable items, it is only they who know how they manage it. Let’s have a look towards on the side of Ladakh,they face minus 40 degrees on an average and how they manage? Only God knows better. In nutshell, its a miracle that people of valley and Ladhak manage the things in these harsh winters. For one life moves at a snail’s pace. On the score of an extreme winter makes doing daily chores extremely difficult. You tend to avoid dealing with water, especially because of snow. Power lines get snapped, there is no electricity and your hands get freezed when you touch water at freezing temperature. Then there emerges out an awkward and painful situation. The water pipes get burst and consequently people suffer for the want of portable water. In case water lines are intact, then spontaneously another problem crops up as water gets frozen inside the pipes. Consequently, at that juncture we have only one option viz heat up the pipes to get some water. On the other hand frequency of road accidents rises unprecedentedly .Traffic jamming is no more exceptional which is more common in these days. Sometimes half an hour travel is convered in not less than 5-8 hours. Poor visibility halts flights and train movements. We witnessed unseasonal snow fall last year that destroyed orchards across Kashmir.
Our” Dal Lake” much popularly called jewel in the crown of Kashmir freezes and as such could attract tourists but mismanagement of winter tourism brings gloom to tour and travel operators in Srinagar .The cold conditions not only result in freezing the Dal Lake, but also result in the freezing of water supply lines everywhere in Kashmir. Consequently, it is better to follow instructions from Traffic & Meteorology Deptts regarding weather and traffic updates and enjoy beautiful winters by keeping yourself warm. Kashmir is a home to various mountain peaks like, “Apharvat peak” , “Sirbal Peak”. The mountain peaks are a pleasure to the eyes with green surroundings and well bred horse paddocks, while winters showcase quite a different beauty with snow capped mountains and frozen water bodies. In the biting cold, only Kashmiri handlooms, weaves and handicrafts can come to the rescue, surviving without pheran, kanger, namda carpets and gabba (traditional woolen flooring) is near impossible. Before the arrival of cold peaks, masses scour the markets like ants to stock food items that help them tide them over difficiulties during “chilla i kalan”. The 40 days of “Chillai-Kalaàn” are followed by 20 days of Chillai Khurd, which translates to small cold and 10 days of “Chille-Bach” (literally, baby cold). Sometimes we see the temperature dropping to -5.6 degrees Celsiuis. This is open to all that we see residents covering windows of their houses with plastic sheet to stop cold winds entering rooms.”Kanger” is an indispensable part of most residents of Kashmir, the well to do part of society has switched to” HAMAAM” not the Turkish bath but rooms made of lime stone flooring which are warmed by burning fire in Gaje (hearth).On the arrival of winter now more eyes are looking towards meteorologist Sonam Lotus for his predictions. One of the famed Kashmiri poets Agha Shahid Ali has rightly said about winter in Kashmir; “Snow gleams as if lover’s gaze has fallen to earth. How the season whitens,even the evergreens are peppered with salt, only love can take the place of the mountain.” On the other hand it has knitted an observance here in Kashmir masses resorted to prefer to move out from valley during winter, albeit some bidding the best way to hit the spot called kashmiri “vushh naira kerhoos vunduss” esp the rich persons in the valley in this day & age .Let us know what we call this? Either vocational trip or something else..!!or isn’t it gonna unconventionally whilst glancing around the clock in fall? To what extent it is categorically true? Now more queries come in our minds. Many tour operators used to stay in Kashmir to earn more and enjoy this breathtaking beauty during winter in Kashmir as they are attracted to these snow capped-mountains bestowed by Almighty Allah. Quintessential, your favourite winter is over & over again waiting for you.
(The author is a freelancer. Views are his own) [email protected]

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