Cold wave grips Kashmir as ‘Chillai Kalan’ begins on a dry note

Cold wave grips Kashmir as ‘Chillai Kalan’ begins on a dry note
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Srinagar, Dec 21: The 40-day harshest period of winter in Kashmir — ‘Chillai Kalan’ — marked its beginning on a harsh note as world famous Dal Lake and other water bodies were frozen partly on Friday, when the night temperature dipped further and settled several degrees below freezing point.
Meanwhile, all the water bodies, including ponds and khuls, were also frozen in Ladakh, where the border town of Kargil was the coldest place in the region at minus 15.1 degree, followed by neighbouring town of Leh, where the mercury settled at minus 12.7 degree.
However, sun greeted people in the valley on Friday, improving the maximum temperature which settled above normal, though ice cold winds continued.
‘Chillai Kalan’, which is the harshest period of winter in Kashmir, ends on January 30. It is followed by a 20-day ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold). ‘Chillai Kalan’ is a period when no vegetation grows due to intense chilly weather condition. However, the farmers are now using greenhouses to maintain the temperature and grow vegetables and other vegetation.
A Met department spokesperson said that weather will remain dry during the next about a week in Kashmir valley, which could result in further dip in the night temperature. “With the onset of ‘Chillai Kalan’ and dry weather, the night temperature is expected dip further in the coming days,” he added.
Even though night temperature witnessed slight improvement, parts of the Dal Lake and other water bodies, particularly near the banks and interior areas, were frozen in the summer capital, Srinagar. Against minus 4.9 degree recorded on Thursday, the night temperature in Srinagar improved and settled at minus 4.4 degree, which is still about 3 degree below normal.
The Shikarawalas were struggling to move their boats due to frozen water in the morning. However, as the day progressed, sun came out, improving the maximum temperature considerably in the summer capital, where frozen parts of water bodies melted near banks.
The Lake was frozen completely many decades ago when a jeep crossed over frozen surface from one end to another. Dal Lake water was again frozen when the water body became major attraction for tourists and locals, who play ice hockey, cricket and took pictures in the middle of the lake.
Meanwhile, there was water shortage in many areas, particularly on the outskirts where taps were frozen. At some places people were seen trying to defreeze the frozen taps by burning wood. However, as the day progressed the frozen water de-froze.
He said the sky would be partly cloudy during the next 24 hours in Srinagar, where the maximum and minimum temperature would be around 9 degree and minus 4 degree, respectively.
The night temperature in world famous ski resort of Gulmarg, where the ski slopes are under about 3 to 4 feet of snow, dipped and settled at minus 6 degree, against minus 5.4 degree recorded on Thursday. The night temperature in the ski resort, about 55 km from here in north Kashmir, was about 2 degree below normal.
World famous tourist resort of Pahalgam, about 100 km from here in south Kashmir, was the coldest place in the valley. Against minus 6.8 degree recorded on Thursday, the night temperature in Pahalgam was minus 7.5 degree, which is about 3 degree below normal.
The mercury at Qazigund, gateway to the valley, Kupwara in north Kashmir and tourist resort of Kukernag dipped and settled at minus 4.7 degree, minus 5.8 degree and minus 4 degree, respectively.