Srinagar: World famous Dal Lake and other water-bodies were frozen as the summer capital, Srinagar, recorded the coldest night in 30 years after the mercury dipped and settled at minus 8.8 degree on Sunday, the last day of Chillai-Kalan.
Meanwhile, chilly weather intensified further with mercury dipping and settling several degrees below normal across the valley, where a fresh spell of snow is predicted from Tuesday onwards.
Authorities have warned people, particularly youth and children, not to walk on the frozen water of Dal Lake in the city, where weather remained chilly during the day due to overcast conditions, coupled with ice cold winds.
A Met department spokesperson told UNI that the city recorded the coldest night of the season so far after the mercury dipped over a degree from Saturday and settled at minus 8.8 degree, which is the coldest in 30 years. “We don’t expect the temperature to fall beyond this as ‘Chillai-kalan’, the harshest 40-day winter period in Kashmir, has ended today,” he added.
He said the city recorded minus 11.3 degree in 1991 while the lowest minimum temperature recorded ever in Srinagar was minus 14.4 degree in 1893. “In 1995, the night temperature recorded in Srinagar was minus 8.3 degree,” he said.
He said the city recorded the minimum temperature of minus 8.4 degree on January 14 this year.
Meanwhile, Shikarawalas were finding it difficult to move through frozen parts of the Dal Lake, where River Police has been deployed as a precautionary measure to prevent people from moving on the frozen lake. Tourists staying in houseboats and nearby hotels had a pleasant surprise to see frozen parts of the lake.
It was in 1965 when the entire lake was frozen and a jeep crossed the frozen surface from one end to another end. In the late 80s and 90s, the frozen lake became a major attraction for tourists and locals, who used to take photographs and play cricket on the icy surface. Later, walking and playing on the frozen surface of the lake was banned and police personnel used to be deployed to prevent any accident.
Majority shops and business establishments, including at historic Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the city, reopened only after 1000 hrs. However, the “Haresa” famous winter dish in Kashmir, witnessed heavy rush of customers. People complained of the lake of passenger transport service available in the morning and in the evening. They alleged that in the absence of public transport, three-wheelers and cabs are charging them several time extra.
People in many areas, including in the city, complained of water shortage. “Our taps were frozen due to chill,” they said and hoped that things may improve as the day progresses.
Tourist resort of Kukarnag was the coldest place in the valley as the mercury dipped about 2 degree from Saturday and settled at minus 13.1 degree, which is 10 degree below normal.
World famous ski resort of Gulmarg, about 55 km from here in north Kashmir, was the only place in the valley where the mercury improved 2 degree from Saturday and settled at minus 8 degree. “Despite chilly weather conditions due to ice cold winds, the tourists are out on ski slopes enjoying different snow related activities. All the ski slopes have been thrown open for tourists and adventure lovers are having a time of their lives,” a hotelier from Gulmarg told UNI over the phone.
The night temperature at world famous health resort of Pahalgam improved marginally and settled at minus 12 degree, which is 6 degree below normal.
The night temperature at Qazigind, gateway to the valley and Kupwara in north Kashmir dipped and settled at minus 10.2 degree, minus 4.2 degree and minus 10.3 degree, respectively.