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Updated December 21st, 2023 at 16:30 IST

Chillai kalan is here: Pherans out as Kashmir valley shivers; Mercury drops to -4 °C

Many locals and tourists were spotted delighting in the early morning ambiance around Dal Lake.

Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil
Chillai kalan is coming in Kashmir valley
Chillai kalan is coming in Kashmir valley | Image:Mubashir Hussain
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Srinagar: It’s time for Chillai Kalan in Kashmir Valley - the beginning of a 40-day period of severe and harsh winter conditions. Chillai Kalan begins on December 21 and ends on January 29. The word Chillai Kalan comes from a Persian word meaning "major cold". Following Chillai Kalan, the valley experiences milder spells known as Chillai-Khurd for 20 days (January 31 to February 19) and Chillai-Bachha for 10 days (February 20 to March 2).

The onset of Chillai Kalan is marked by 'Pheran Day,' celebrating the loose-and-long woollen gown that locals wear to combat the biting cold. Many residents changed their social media display pictures to showcase the pheran, a garment worn for centuries in the Kashmir Valley, known for its adaptability to accommodate the kangri—a fire pot used to ward off the winter chill.

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Chillai kalan in Kashmir valley

Tourist fest


Many locals and tourists were spotted delighting in the early morning ambiance around Dal Lake. A few were observed warming themselves by fires kindled by the locals, while others held Kangris in their hands to stave off the chill. Amidst the picturesque scene, some were engrossed in capturing the moment, busily clicking selfies to preserve the memories of their serene experience.

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Chillai kalan in Kashmir valley

“The cultural richness during Chillai Kalan is awe-inspiring. Wearing the Pheran, changing my social media display picture – it's my way of becoming a part of this beautiful winter narrative,” said a Kavita Sharama, a tourist from Mumbai.
"At many pockets, Dal Lake turns into a vast sheet of ice, the real magic unfolds beneath the surface— telling a tale of survival against the coldest of winters,” said Mohammad Ramzan a Dal dweller.

Chillai kalan in Kashmir valley

The valley experienced it’s first cold wave of this year’s Chillai Kalan, with Srinagar recording a minimum temperature of - 4.3 degrees Celsius, Pahalgam at - 5.8 degrees Celsius, and Gulmarg at -3 degrees Celsius. A dry spell has intensified the cold wave, prompting locals to eagerly anticipate early snowfall to alleviate the biting cold.

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Chillai kalan in Kashmir valley

Experts emphasize the severity of these 40 days and advise caution, especially for those above 50. Residents are urged to stay indoors, keep warm using local warming devices in the absence of proper electric power supply, and avoid venturing outside during the colder evenings and mornings unless properly covered from head to toe.

Chillai kalan in Kashmir valley

While there has been no scientific research, tombstones in local graveyards indicate a higher occurrence of natural deaths between December and February. Deaths during this period, particularly among the elderly unable to withstand the acute chill, are viewed as natural in Kashmir, distinguishing it from reports in the rest of the country.

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Published December 21st, 2023 at 15:34 IST

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