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Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Unseen Winter of Gulmarg: A Tale of Climate Change

Gulmarg, an idyllic town in Kashmir, is known for its enchanting winters. Every year, it transforms into a snowy wonderland, attracting tourists from across the globe who come to enjoy the snow, partake in winter activities, and ski down the slopes. However, this year, Gulmarg presents a starkly different picture. The once snow-covered town now lies barren, with only small specks of snow dotting the landscape.

The Meadow of Flowers Sans Snow

Located 60 km from Srinagar, Gulmarg, known as the ‘Meadow of Flowers’, is a sight to behold in winters. It turns into a snow-covered paradise and a premier winter sports destination. Tourists can walk on the snow-covered slopes, ski down them, or take the world’s second-highest gondola to witness the picturesque snow valleys. In 2023, 1.65 million tourists visited Gulmarg. This number was expected to be higher this winter, with many already in town expecting a fresh bout of snow. However, they were met with a shocking sight – Gulmarg is snowless this winter.

The Impact of Climate Change

The weather office attributes the lack of snow in Gulmarg to a dry spell in Kashmir this year. The Kashmir Valley has received 79% less rainfall, and there’s been virtually no snow all season. The whole of December was dry, and January is likely to be the same. This unusual weather pattern is due to climate change. The El Nino phenomenon, a climate pattern that leads to the warming of Pacific waters, tends to create warmer than average weather. This year, India is witnessing a shorter winter, and places like Kashmir may see virtually no snow.

The Concerns and Adaptations

Netizens are already expressing concern over the lack of snow in Gulmarg. Some have resorted to skiing on a man-made ice rink. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also spoke about it, saying he’s never seen Gulmarg so dry and that there’s nothing to ski on. For the town, this is a scary prospect. Gulmarg depends on tourism every year, and it usually booms every winter. With no snow on the ground, many are cancelling their plans. Skiing enthusiasts, who look forward to skiing down snowy slopes, are left disappointed.

Moreover, India’s Winter Games, scheduled to be held in the town from February 2nd, could also be affected. For now, Gulmarg is only hoping for one thing – snow. But it’s unlikely until next month. Till then, the town will have to adapt and ski through this crisis, except it will be a bumpy ride instead of a snowy descent.

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