Kashmir: A Parched Paradise Gripped by Cold and Hope for Snow
Kashmir, usually blanketed in a pristine winter coat, shivers under an unusual harshness this year. The valley remains in a cold, dry freeze, while Jammu basks in pleasant sunshine, creating a stark contrast within the same state. This winter has been one of the worst, marked by virtually no rain or snow in the plains for three months, leaving residents desperate for relief.
Srinagar, the summer capital, recorded a biting minus 4.9 degrees Celsius on Friday, with Gulmarg and Pahalgam even colder at minus 3.6 degrees Celsius and minus 6.3 degrees Celsius, respectively. The biting cold seeps into every bone, while the lack of snow paints a desolate landscape, starkly different from the usual winter postcard.
But the chill isn’t the only concern. With the Meteorological Department forecasting only light snowfall in the higher reaches for the remaining 10 days of the 40-day Chillai Kalan, which started on December 21st, hope for a white embrace is dwindling. This despair has driven many Kashmiris to seek divine intervention, resorting to prayers and penance in temples, mosques, and shrines.
The irony is palpable. While Kashmir freezes, Jammu enjoys spring-like temperatures. Srinagar’s daytime highs have been over 8 degrees Celsius above normal, creating a confusing and unnatural warmth amidst the biting nights. This year’s weather pattern is throwing life out of balance, impacting agriculture, water levels, and tourism, critical aspects of the valley’s economy and culture.
The statistics paint a grim picture. December saw a 79% deficit in rainfall, and the first half of January brought no precipitation to most of the valley. The upper reaches have received less than usual snowfall, and the plains, usually blanketed in white, remain bare and thirsty. The lack of snow not only impacts the scenic beauty but also raises concerns about water availability in the coming months.
A glimmer of hope, however faint, shines in the MeT’s prediction of scattered light rain and snow from January 26th. But until then, Kashmir must endure the grip of this unusual winter – a valley shimmering in dry sunshine, desperately longing for the touch of snow.