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Weather, elections, and tourism in Manali

River Beas Friendship Peak in backdrop Manali India
No sign of Friendship.

We are past the Ides of March, and it’s still snowing in Manali. The Friendship Peak remained invisible all day. Though the handsome snow-capped mountain crest has been visible from the left bank of the River Beas quite often over the last fortnight, it yet again allowed dark clouds to embrace it, after fresh slushy snow and light showers came down on this Himalayan town early morning on Tuesday.

Though Manali experiences snowfall through the winters, the current weather is slightly unusual and is beginning to trigger concerns among tourism stakeholders.

Last year, hoteliers and travel agents here suffered a major blow after massive mountain floods caused death and destruction in Uttarakhand. The impact of the gushing waters, and the resultant visuals on YouTube, ensured a steep climb-down in tourist footfalls in Manali despite its distance from the ground zero of the calamity.

While intermittent showers continued almost all day, conversation at the Fauji Tea Stall — a favourite haunt of the locals near the Manali Bus Stand — hovered around the weather, the forthcoming elections, and the possible impact of the two on tourism. As in any setting, the house seemed pretty evenly divided between the pessimists and optimists.

The pessimists, egged on by the prevalent weather, argued that the 9 phase poll season — commencing on April 7 and concluding with the announcement of results on May 16 — is sure to take its toll on tourism. Unperturbed by the aspersions, optimists maintained that the day-long poll activity in Himachal Pradesh, scheduled for May 7, would have little or no impact on holidaymakers.

Naysayers aside, the general mood in Manali remains upbeat as this picturesque mountain town prepares to welcome tourists for the forthcoming season that shifts into top gear around April 15th and remains in that state at least till the end of the harsh Indian summer. As for the impact of the elections, only time will tell. Que sera sera.

mild rain in manali mall road India
All rain no shine
snow on the roofs of several hotel in manali, india
Weather proof!

Good Old Manali Winter

Patience is a Himalayan virtue. The rolling mountain region imbibes those inhabiting its racks with an imperturbability, which keeps them happily confined to the proximity of their indoor ‘Tandoors’ through a long and harsh winter.

Winters in the Himalayan villages are a period of stillness which is broken only on the odd sunny day when groups of women huddle over their laundry at community taps exchanging complaints regarding the weather or drinking habits. And men reluctantly plough their way, through a thick sheet of virgin snow, to replenish dwindling household supplies.

The streets are practically empty and punctuated with bands of young boys who recklessly ski down the inclines or train their slingshots at colourful birds that descend in search of feed, or aim at the signboards of establishments, which pull down their shutters at the close of the tourist season.

Cherubic young girls with snot-smeared red cheeks are seen playing in the snow and happily dodging the light-hearted snowflakes that are entrusted on them by majestic pine trees. Armed with shovels, teenaged boys perch themselves on rooftops while young ladies catch up on gossip as they rush to the store by the stream to recharge their mobile phones.

The whirring sound of a distant snow cutter echoes above the whistling wind and mangy dogs run across leafless cherry and apple trees in search of elusive morsels. Hovering clouds smear a shade of blue over the landscape as billowing smoke from a hundred chimneys signals the end of the day and beckons the young ones to safety and comfort.

manali kids
Chocolate cherubs
manali dogs
Elusive Morsels
manali dogs
Moti -The Mongrel
manali cold
Cold Manali
manali skiing
Alpine Ambience
manali kids
Slingshot
old manali winter
Where the streets have no name