The mercury fell below the freezing point across Kashmir, except Srinagar city, as cold wave conditions returned to the valley on Tuesday after a brief spell of respite due to snowfall and rains over the past two days, officials said.
Gulmarg, the famous tourist destination in north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 9.4 degrees Celsius. It was a plunge of 3.4 degrees compared to the previous night, the officials said.
Pahalgam, which serves as the base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 7.9 degrees Celsius – down from minus 4.1 degrees Celsius the previous night.
They said Srinagar, the only place to record minimum temperature above the freezing point, saw a low of 1.4 degrees Celsius on Monday night – down from the previous night’s minus 2.2 degrees Celsius.
They said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, recorded the minimum of minus 0.4 degrees Celsius.
The nearby south Kashmir town of Kokernag recorded a low of minus 2.5 degrees Celsius.
The mercury in Kupwara in north Kashmir settled at a low of 1.0 degrees Celsius.
The Kashmir valley is currently under the grip of the 40-day harshest winter period known as ‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ which began on Tuesday.
‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ is a period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.
The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy to very heavy snowfall.
The ‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ will end on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).