Srinagar: The winter solstice marks the coldest night of the season in Kashmir. Srinagar freezes at minus 4.2.
The dropping temperatures herald the beginning of a 40 day long intense cold season called Chillai Kalan in the Valley. It begins on December 21 and ends on January 30. It’s followed by another cold spell with less intensity during the month of February called Chillai-Khurd (small cold) which lasts 20 days, and a 10-day Chillai-Bachha (baby cold).
Chillai Kalan is the local name given to this yearly period of intense cold weather, when winter temperatures in Kashmir are at their lowest.
Pahalgam in south Kashmir was the coldest place in the region with minus 6.2 degree Celsius.
The cold wave is expected to intensify in the coming days. Currently, there is no forecast of any major snowfall.
While higher reaches in Kashmir have received snowfall since November, there is no snow on the plains. Even at Gulmarg, Kashmir’s most popular ski resort, the snow cover is insufficient for the sport.
Skiers and tourists are waiting for a good snowfall in Gulmarg to celebrate a white Christmas and begin the skiing season.
During peak of winter in the Valley, large parts of Dal Lake and other water bodies freeze. Waterfalls at several places also freeze into giant icicles.
For the locals of Kashmir, one of the biggest challenges posed by the dropping mercury levels is coping with the intense cold in the face of frequent power cuts.