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High On Snow-rush, Tourists Flock To Sinthan In Search Of Winter Wonder In Snow-less Kashmir

With major winter tourism attractions in Kashmir leaving them disappointed due to lack of snowfall, tourists are now turning to an off-beat destination in higher reaches of the valley, Sinthan, to enjoy snowfall.

Situated at 12,500 feet, Sinthan top is a snow-clad mountain peak that connects Anantnag in south Kashmir to Kishtwar in Jammu region via Kokernag.

The state is currently going through one of its worst dry phases as snow has melted at most places where usually a thick blanket of snow is found at this time of the year, officials said.

They further said that the higher reaches of the valley, which used to look pristine with a white carpet of snow are looking barren as most of the glaciers have melted up.

Tourists Enjoy Snow at Sinthan Top

A large number of tourists who visited Jammu and Kashmir around the New Year’s Eve in the hope of enjoying the snow in Gulmarg, headed back in disappointment. However, the only silver lining at this point is the snow at Sinthan Top which has retained some amount and is providing some solace to the visitors, the officials said.

An otherwise off-beat destination, Sinthan Top is attracting tourists in hordes these days as local travel agents redirect the visitors to the spot to experience some snow.  They are also advising tourists to include Sinthan Top in their itineraries.

Travellers Share Experience at Off-Beat Spot

One of the tourists, Aslam Saleem from Dhaka, Bangladesh who visited the Sinthan Top to see snow shared his experience. Saleem said, “There is no snow elsewhere in Kashmir in the month of January, but my heart filled with joy when I reached here. The weather is very good, Kashmir is truly a paradise.”

Another tourist from Bangladesh said, ”This is a very nice place. I am here with my family, and we became very happy when we arrived. We are enjoying it very much.”

A tourist from Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal, Vaishali said that they changed their plans when they heard about snow at Sinthan Top. “Except for this place, there is no snow anywhere in the whole of Kashmir. We had plans of visiting Aru and Beetab valleys, but, when we came to know that there is snowfall in Sinthan Top, we changed our plans. We are enjoying it so much here and are happy that we changed our plans,” she said.

Tour Operators Advise Tourists to Add Sinthan Top to Itinerary

“The tour operators are providing options to the tourists to change their itinerary and go to places like Sinthan Top to see snow. Many tourists are opting to go to Sinthan Top rather than other places in Pahalgam because of snow there,” President of Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK), Rouf Tramboo, told PTI. He further said that the tourism players in the valley are worried in the absence of snowfall and the month of January has been a “total loss”.

”The bookings have come down 75-80 per cent. Tourists used to come here for snow especially at Gulmarg and then it used to trickle to other places including Srinagar. But, now, there is a loss at the source as Gulmarg is snow-less,” he said.

The tour operators were now providing an option to the tourists to delay their visits till February or March.\

ALSO READ: Why is Kashmir’s Ski Haven Gulmarg Seeing Snowless Winter This Year? | Explained

Hotels Trying to Retain Bookings Amidst Lack of Snowfall

Asif Burza, a young hotelier who is the managing director of Ahad Hotels and Resorts, said that bookings and tourist arrivals have decreased. “We are trying our best to retain bookings, but we are not sure about the snow,” he said.

”Many tourists come to Kashmir to experience snow. In the absence of it at many prominent destinations, tourists are preferring to visit places like Sinthan Top. We hope there is snowfall and the numbers increase,” Burza told PTI.

Weather Experts Highlight Concerns on Decreasing Snow in J&K

Experts have said that studies show the glaciers in Jammu and Kashmir have dwindled by 25 per cent in the last six decades, while 48 per cent of them could vanish by the century’s end even with moderate climate change.

An earth scientist and glaciology expert has voiced concerns highlighting the significance of snow and glaciers for J-K and Ladakh. The scientist also noted that under climate change and increasing temperatures, the glaciers in the region were melting.

An official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said there has been a large deficit in winter snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Ladakh this year and the situation is unlikely to change before Republic Day.

According to the IMD’s data, December 2023 saw 79-per cent deficit rainfall, while the first half of January this year has also been largely dry except for a one-time light snowfall in places like Gurez.

The lack of western disturbances in northwest India is often related to the climate change in the emerging scientific literature. The rise in global temperatures and altered weather patterns impact snowfall patterns. Due to the lack of snow, the local ecology, as well as the economy face the risk of severe disruptions.

According to The Weather Channel, western disturbances are storm systems originating in the Mediterranean Sea that bring non-monsoonal rainfall and snowfall across northwest India.

(with agency inputs)

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