Blue Skies, White Snow: Over 100 people rescued, roads cleared after snowfall in Himachal Pradesh

1658 hours, 14-12-2019, The Mall, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India: 

The snowfall came to a halt at midnight yesterday as the wind picked up speed. This morning, we woke to a sky that was crystal clear with a deep hue of blue and the entire city was covered in snow. Though there was traffic congestion last night at some places in the city, everything got back to normal as the sun came out and the snow started to melt.

View of Jakhoo Hill and Shimla city under a blanket of snow; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

But there was major activity that had occurred during the night at Hassan Valley, which is between Shimla and Kufri. On my way to The Mountain Walker office this morning, I learnt that more than a 100 stranded people were rescued during the night, including women and children. The rescue operation took place at Hassan Valley by the joint effort of the District Administration of Shimla, the Shimla Police and employees of the Public Works Department. Apparently chaos ensued when some tourist buses skidded on the downhill road from Chabbara to Dhalli thereby blocking the road. Many LMV’s also got stuck. The operation carried on through the night till 0400 hours this morning. There were no causalities and the people rescued were then taken to the Tribal Bhawan at Dhalli and the Gurudwara at Sanjauli. I am really impressed by the efforts of all those involved in the rescue in spite of the cold weather. It is really commendable. 

With the sun up and this being a weekend, lots of people could be seen enjoying the snowfall. People making snowmen, clicking selfies in various poses, or just marvelling at the panoramic views all around, kids throwing snowballs at each other or sliding down slopes in narrow alley ways, or just sipping on a cup of coffee or tea held tightly with both hands. The paradox is that snow is like a magical powder that makes us give the warmest smiles though being so freakishly cold! 

People enjoy the morning sunshine ‘n’ fresh snow at The Ridge, Shimla; Photo: Sanjay Mehta
View at IIAS, Shimla as the snow starts to melt. Photo: Vipul Sood
Boys enjoying the first snowfall in Shimla. Photo: Imran Khan 
Stunning view of Jalori Top as seen from Kumarsain.

An update from the DC Office has stated that all roads in the city are clear of snow and sand has been spread to avoid skidding of moving vehicles. While tourists are being allowed to go towards Mashobra, only locals and people with experience of driving in snowy conditions are being permitted to go ahead on the Dhalli- Kufri road. Around six machines have been deployed on the Dhalli-Fagu Road for clearing it. It is also important to emphasise and request all visitors not to take any unnecessary risks in such weather. 

Meanwhile, more than a foot of snow has accumulated in Sangla and Kalpa respectively in Kinnaur. Buses and commuters to Rampur and Kinnaur have been diverted via Dhami and Mashobra. The road between Narkanda and Kumarsain has been cleared and sand is being spread to avoid skidding. Theog- Hatkoti Road has also been cleared. JCB’s have been deployed to clear the route as soon as possible; however, at this point, the road from Rohru to Dodra-Kwar and the nearby link roads are completely blocked. Manali has experienced roughly a foot of snow also and the highway has been cleared till Palchan so far. 

View of Sangla as the weather clears to blue and sunny skies; Photo: Rahul Negi
View towards Sangla Kanda; Photo: Rahul Negi

The entire Himalayan ranges including Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh has experienced snowfall in the past 2-3 days.  

Shimla city is now covered in thick fog though there is no sign of snow yet. The meteorological department forecasts that isolated areas or higher regions will witness a little more snow till tomorrow. 

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