Shimla, Dec 24 (IANS) Thousands of holiday-makers are heading to hill destinations across Himachal Pradesh to enjoy the Yuletide spirit amidst snow but the weather bureau on Saturday forecast no White Christmas.
According to the Met office, mellow sunshine with long sunny days will greet the visitors at most of the tourist destinations till December 29.
Temperatures have been recorded above the average in popular tourist spots like Shimla, Narkanda, Kasauli, Manali, Dalhousie and Chamba owing to prevailing dry weather.
There is no snow cover that one can view atop the peaks from Shimla’s historic Ridge, Manali, Dharamsala and Palampur towns.
“The minimum temperature is above average these days across the state. A feeble western disturbance is approaching the region and its impact could be seen in high hills till Sunday. So there are chances of rain or snow at isolated places in inaccessible areas,” Manmohan Singh, director of the meteorological office, told IANS.
The minimum temperature was 7.7 degrees Celsius, which is relatively high, in Shimla on Saturday, he said.
Singh said the maximum temperature in Shimla on December 21 was 22.3 degrees Celsius, the highest recorded in December here since 2008. It was 9.2 degrees Celsius above the average temperature at this time of the season.
Shimla’s low was 20.6 degrees Celsius on Friday.
In Manali, Dharamsala and Kalpa the minimum temperature on Saturday was 2.6 degrees Celsius, 9.6 degrees and 1.4 degrees respectively.
Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti district was the coldest in the state at 0.4 degree Celsius.
Thousands of tourists, mainly from northern states, have booked rooms here in the hope of a white Christmas.
“Most of our hotels have now been getting good response till New Year’s eve,” Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation General Manager Vijay Sharma told IANS.
According to Sharma, initially the response was not overwhelming but now it has picked up.
Most of the tourists were heading to Shimla, Narkanda, Dalhousie, Dharamsala, Manali, Sangla and Kalpa in Kinnaur district.
The popular tourist town of Narkanda, about 65 km from here, is bereft of snow like Manali and Shimla.
The town is known for the imperial grandeur of buildings that were once institutions of power when Shimla was the summer capital of the British India.
Manali, as usual, remains a magnet for holiday-makers.
“The arrival of tourists in Manali and nearby hill destinations has picked up just ahead of Christmas and we are expecting a good rush till the New Year’s Eve,” Manali-based hotelier M.C. Thakur said.
There is no snowy landscape even at Gulaba, 30 km from Manali, which normally attracts skiers during this period, Thakur said.
Christmas snows have been eluding Shimla since 1991 when 49 cm snowfall took place on the eve of the festival.
According to the meteorological department, snowfall has been eluding Shimla on Christmas eve for the past 24 years.
Except in 2010, there has been no white New Year’s eve either in Shimla in the past eight years.