New Delhi, Jan 7 (IANS) There was no respite from the intense cold across north India Monday, disrupting rail and air traffic and keeping millions wrapped up in layers of woollens.
And although the sun finally shone in the Indian capital, it was not enough to provide a respite from the terrible chill that has killed scores of homeless people in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Dense fog and icy winds disrupted normal life across Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and Bihar.
Delhi's minimum temperature settled at five notches below average at 2.4 degrees Celsius. But it was still better than Sunday's 1.9 degrees.
Fog forced visibility to drop to about 500 metres in the morning.
Officials said 15 flights and 42 trains were delayed out of Delhi while 18 train services were axed.
Schools in the national capital remain shut until the weekend. All primary school classes in Patna have been suspended till Wednesday.
Shimla recorded minus 0.6 degree Celsius, the season's lowest in the Himachal capital. The minimum temperature in the tourist haven Manali was 4 degrees below the freezing point.
"It was a bright, sunny day across the state but temperatures remained below the freezing point in most places," the weatherman said. Keylong was the coldest in Himachal: minus 10.9 degrees.
The cold wave continued unabated throughout Jammu and Kashmir, with the minimum temperatures below the freezing point in the Kashmir Valley and in the Ladakh region.
Kargil in Ladakh region was the coldest in the state at 16.4 degrees below the freezing point.
The night temperature was minus 4.9 degrees in Srinagar, minus 8.2 degrees in Pahalgam and minus 9.8 degrees in Gulmarg.
Most water bodies, including parts of Dal Lake, have frozen.
The government has extended the winter vacation of school children in the Jammu region till Jan 13.
Churu in Rajasthan saw night temperature dip to minus 2.7 degrees Celsius. In Jaipur it was 2.3 degrees Celsius Sunday night, the lowest this winter.
Places in Rajasthan close to Delhi were wrapped in a blanket of fog.
Chandigarh, the twin-capital of Punjab and Haryana, experienced the coldest day in three decades at a maximum of 6.1 degrees Celsius -- the lowest since 1982. Monday's minimum there was 2.1 degrees -- the lowest for the season so far.
Officials reported 26 deaths due to cold since early Saturday in Bihar, where bone-chilling winds have made life miserable.
Monday's lowest temperature in the state was recorded in Darbhanga district (2.6 degrees). State capital Patna faced a low of four degrees.
In the Taj Mahal town of Agra, in Uttar Pradesh, many remained indoors unable to face the intense cold and foggy weather. The minimum temperature settled at 0.5 degrees.
The number of tourists flocking to Agra fell sharply.
"This was one of the coldest nights I have ever experienced," said Agra resident Surendra Sharma.
As always, the homeless were the worst victims of the harsh winter.