Updated June 7th, 2024 at 10:55 IST

Heatwave And Traffic: The Changing Landscape of Himalayan Summers

Traditionally, hill stations like Manali, Shimla, and McLeod Ganj were known for their cool weather. Yet, this summer, they've lost their refreshing charm.

Representative photo | Image:@BeingHimachali/X
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The serene hill towns of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have been the summer refuges for North Indians seeking respite from the scorching heat of the plains. These retreats, nestled amid lush greenery and snow-capped peaks, were once synonymous with cool breezes and rejuvenating escapes. However, this season, the dreamy allure of the Himalayan summers has faded, replaced by two significant challenges: rising temperatures and an overwhelming influx of tourists.

The warming hills

Traditionally, hill stations like Manali, Shimla, and McLeod Ganj were known for their cool weather. Yet, this summer, they've lost their refreshing charm. Tourists arriving in Manali expecting a cool escape are met with Bangalore-like heat, exacerbated by even worse traffic. Locals in Kangra, home to the picturesque town of McLeod Ganj, share similar sentiments. The temperature has soared past 41 degrees Celsius (according to the IMD), leaving many regretting their decision to seek solace in the hills.

Representative photo | Image: Freepik

 

Unprecedented heatwaves

May witnessed unprecedented heat across Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Jammu and Kashmir. Dehradun sweltered at 43°C, matching its record from 2012, with over eight consecutive days above 40°C (according to the IMD). Even hill stations like Kullu recorded scorching temperatures - 38.3 degrees Celsius on May 29 - outstripping Bengaluru by over four degrees (according to the IMD). The hills are no longer a refuge from the heat.

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Representative photo | Image: @sriramsrirangm/X

 

Tourist try to find solace in the hills

The second blow to the Himalayan charm is the massive influx of tourists. Tens of thousands flock to these hills, causing traffic jams and overcrowding. The fragile ecosystem faces environmental challenges, including water shortages and plastic pollution. 

Representative photo | Image: Freepik

 

The once serene hill towns now resemble cramped, overheated gatherings, as tourists vie for space and comfort. As temperatures rise and crowds surge, the ideal retreats transform into bustling hubs. Therefore, it's time for people to explore alternative destinations or consider the lesser-known places that still offer the magic of the mountains.

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Published June 7th, 2024 at 10:55 IST