Snowfall in higher reaches of Kashmir, including popular tourist destinations like Gulmarg and Sonamarg, and rains in plains brought wintry conditions earlier than usual in the valley, officials said on Thursday.
“There was significant snowfall in many areas of Kashmir including Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Gurez, and Karnah during the intervening night,” the officials said.
The officials said more than two inches of snow had accumulated in the Gulmarg bowl while the snowfall was heavier in higher reaches of the valley.
They said even the Zabarwan mountain range in the city had received traces of snowfall during the night.
Srinagar city and other areas of the valley received moderate rainfall since the early hours of Thursday, bringing down the temperature by several degrees.
People have slipped into winter wear like sweaters and heavy jackets earlier than usual.
The early snowfall has brought cheer to the faces of tourists who have arrived here to escape the pollution caused by Diwali crackers elsewhere in the country.
“We had come to enjoy the autumn hues of Kashmir while escaping the pollution caused by firecrackers back home. This snowfall is an unexpected bonus for us,” S Arvind, a resident of Hyderabad, told PTI.
Shoaib Ali, a travel agent, said the reports of snowfall have led to renewed interest in Kashmir’s winter tourism this year.
“The first snowfall in the mountains was on Tuesday and I had a busy day attending to calls from regular clients on Wednesday about winter packages. Hopefully, there will be good snowfall this winter to sustain winter tourism,” Ali said.
However, apple farmers in south Kashmir are worried lot as heavy snowfall before December will not only destroy the crop this year but cause damage to trees. “We have had early snowfall now for three years in a row. I hope it was just a passing event as a heavy snowfall at this time will damage the trees which are still full of fruit,” Bashir Ahmad, an apple farmer from Shopian, said.
He said while early harvesting this year has ensured against any major loss, 20 per cent of the crop was still on the trees.
The weatherman has forecast improvement in the conditions later in the day and predicted a dry week.