Clouds continue to cover most parts of Kashmir, including Srinagar, even as the 40-day harshest winter period of 'Chillai Kalan' ended today during which the Valley witnessed heaviest snowfall in two decades, and avalanches that left 20 people, including 15 army personnel, dead.
Despite overnight rains and light snowfall in the higher reaches, one-way traffic on Srinagar-Jammu national highway – the only all-weather road link between Kashmir and rest of the country – remained smooth, but bad weather led to delay in resumption of air traffic to and from Srinagar international airport, officials said.
Kashmir valley experienced first heavy snowfall on January 6, which ended nearly five-month-long dry spell, providing relief to the people facing problems due to absence of rain or snow. Since then, Srinagar witnessed snowfall on six occasions.
The high altitude areas including famous ski resort of Gulmarg – an attraction for tourists visiting the Valley during winter – recorded heaviest snowfall in over 25 years with present depth of snow being around eight feet, officials said.
The peripheral areas of Gulmarg along with other high altitude areas in the Valley experienced snowfall ranging between 15 to 20 feet this month, they said.
This is for the first time in over two decades that 'Chillai-Kalan' ended with snowfall in abundance, much to the delight of the people, especially the farming community and winter sports lovers.
For the last four years, Chillai Kalan had witnessed scant snowfall. It was one of the major reasons for low discharge in rivers and shortage of drinking water in the Valley, as snowfall during this 40-day period lasts for longer time due to freezing temperatures.
The 'Chillai Kalan' is followed by a 20-day long 'Chillai- Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day-long 'Chillai Bachha' (baby cold).
Last week's heavy snowfall triggered avalanches in Sonamarg area of Ganderbal and Gurez in Bandipora district, resulting in death of 15 soldiers and four members of a family.
A civilian was killed in an avalanche in Uri sector of Baramulla district, while five soldiers were rescued alive after remaining trapped for several hours under snow in Macchil sector of Kupwara district on Saturday.