'Chillai Kalan' - harshest period of winter - begins in Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir is in the grip of a cold wave. File pic/ Mubashir Khan/GK

Intense cold wave conditions continued through Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as the harsh winter period of ‘Chillai Kalan’ started on Monday. Long icicles hung from leaking taps and branches of trees presented a kaleidoscopic view as the sun struggled its way through cloud covers.

Over this one month’s time, night temperatures were expected to drop several notches below the freezing point while the maximum temperatures hover around 6-7 degrees Celsius in J&K and Ladakh.

Many water bodies, including the Dal Lake, the Wullar Lake and others have frozen in parts, due to the extreme cold in the valley.

For ecologists and environmental scientists, Chillai Kalan is a welcome period since snowfall during this period replenishes perennial water reservoirs in the Valley and Ladakh.

The flow of rivers, streams, springs and lakes during hot summer months depends upon how bountiful has the snowfall been during this 40-day long period.

To keep body and soul together during the bitter cold of 40-day Chillai Kalan, Kashmiris eat high calorific diets, including ‘Harisa’ which is prepared by stewing mutton with spices in large vessels over simmering fire during the night.

“Weather is expected to remain cloudy today in the valley with isolated light rain/snow at some places. No major rain/snowfall activity is expected till December 31,” an official of the MET department said.

Srinagar was minus 4, Pahalgam minus 4.6 and Gulmarg minus 6.4 degrees Celsius.

Leh town of Ladakh was minus 14.6, Kargil minus 20 and Drass minus 20.5 .

Jammu city was at 5.8 degrees Celsius, Katra 7, Batote 3.3, Bannihal 1 and Bhaderwah minus 1.2 as the minimum temperature.