North India heat wave results in overcrowding hill stations

Thursday, June 13, 2019


As the country reels under a prolonged heat wave, north India’s favourite hill stations are overflowing, even as tourists throng destinations like Mussoorie and Nainital in Uttarakhand, Shimla and Manali in Himachal Pradesh, Darjeeling in West Bengal and Gangtok in Sikkim.


Tourist association officials said the numbers this year are unprecedented, which has led to many tourists being turned away. Local police officials from these towns are working round the clock to manage traffic.


Uttarakhand officials said that since mid-May, close to 190,000 tourists have already visited Mussoorie.


Himachal Pradesh Hotel and Restaurant Association’s chairman Gajender Thakur said occupancy in Shimla and Manali hotels has reached 100% on weekends. One weekdays, the occupancy is 80%, he added, and advised tourists not to visit without reserving their rooms.


Himachal Pradesh has over 3000 registered hotels and at least 1,340 registered home stays. Nearly 95% of the hotels are booked till mid-June.


Other hill towns are also reporting full capacities. “Almost all rooms in hill stations such as Gangtok, Darjeeling and Kalimpong are booked. More tourists are arriving than last year,” said Samrat Sanyal, secretary of Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network.


Authorities have been stopping vehicles on the three approach roads to Nainital— Kaladungi, Bhowali and Haldwani — as and when the parking capacity (around 2000 vehicles) has reached its limit.


Arvind Gaud, district tourism officer of Nainital said that this was the first time that the town has witnessed such an unprecedented rush of tourists in a while. He attributed it to the ongoing heat wave in the north Indian plains. “Since May 20, around four lakh tourists have visited Nainital. It has become difficult even to walk on the Mall Road,” he said.


“To deal with the issue in the longer run, we are working on creating more parking spaces.


We are setting up a multi-level parking at the site of Ashok Cinema here with a capacity of 284 vehicles and a high tech parking space at Rusi Bypass with a capacity for 400 to 500 vehicles,” Harbeer Singh, additional district magistrate of Nainital said.


Shimla and Manali too are witnessing traffic snarls and lack of parking space. “There is shortage of parking space in Manali. Nearly 10,000 vehicles entered Manali last week end,” said Superintendent of Police, Kullu, Shalini Agnihotri.


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