Tourists throng Shimla on New Year eve
Shimla: Packed hotels and resorts, crowded Mall Road and iconic Ridge, long queues of vehicles on Shimla –Kalka National Highway, traffic jams on major roads in and round Shimla, overflowing parking spaces and restaurants running to their capacity despite intense cold wave sweeping the hills. That's picture of Shimla–north India's popular hill station, known for its British legacies, on December 31 –down of the new year.
Even as the snow failed to keep its date with Christmas and belied hopes on New Year even for the revellers, Shimla turned a hot spot for the tourists, who thronged in huge number during the last weekend and even ahead of the New Year celebrations.
Sanjay Sood, President, Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association admits, "I can tell you that hotel occupancy is almost 100% due to the holiday season. Several hotels have exhausted their capacity, mainly on basis of online advance booking. Most hotels and resorts have made lavish arrangements for New Year 's eve."
There is exuberance all around on the Mall road–Shimla's humming place and the Ridge. Infact, many tourists who came from the plains for North, including Delhi, Noida, Haryana and Punjab, have enjoyed the warmth of the bright sun and hospitable environment offered by the tourism stake holders.
Few have complained about lack of parking and police hassles like checking of the vehicles and luggage yet those determined to enjoy the New Year's celebrations differently in the hill station are not much bothered much.
"It took me almost two hours to enter Shimla from Shoghi as there have been traffic hold-ups. Then, problem to find parking as most identified parking lots were full. Finally, a policeman guided me to some area to park my car. It's true that tourists get harassed by the police due to excessive restrictions on carrying liquor and other stuff," Prateek Chaudhary, a tourist from Gurgaon said.
Nand Lal Sharma, Additional General Manager HPTDC, who looks after prime Hotel Holiday Home told the Millennium Post, "We are running full to capacity. Special arrangements have been made for the celebration of the New year. There is a food festival we have started and evenings are made entertaining with live music, traditional folk dances (Nati) and comedy shows."
Reports said more than 20,000 to 25,000 tourists have reached Shimla for the celebrations.
"We have employed more than 400 additional cops to check hooliganism and nuisance in the town. The police have been told to deal with trouble creators as par law yet let them enjoy the weather and celebrations without interfering much. Additional parkings have been created but main cart road will not be allowed to be used for any parking," said Ompati Jamwal, Superintendent of Police, Shimla.
Shweta Suman of Delhi said, "The temperature in Shimla is warmer than shivering Delhi. But, we came to see snowfall too. I wish it happens to add fun to the celebrations."
As par MeT forecast, snowfall is expected to occur at higher and middle hills of the state, including some popular tourists destinations in Shimla, Manali, Kufri and Dalhousie, which has also increased the expectations of tourists.
Tourists spots of Kullu Manali, Dalhousie, Dharamshala, McLeodganj, Kasauli, Chail, Kufri, Naldehra and Fagu are also packed to their capacity.
Dr Manmohan Singh, Director of MeT Shimla, predicts, "Snowfall and rain in the state are likely to continue till January 4 after which the weather will remain dry."