Shimla, Jan 17 (IANS) After a long break, popular tourist resorts Shimla, Manali and Dalhousie got fresh snow Thursday, while the lower hills across Himachal Pradesh were lashed by rains, pushing down the mercury by several notches.
Hoteliers, however, cheered up in the hope that tourists will converge in large numbers this weekend.
Tourist spots near Shimla, such as honeymooners' paradise Kufri, Fagu, Narkanda and Chail experienced moderate snowfall, turning the hill stations even more picturesque.
Likewise, the Solang ski slopes, 13 km uphill from Manali, and Kalpa, 250 km from the state capital, also saw snow, the weather office here said.
The minimum temperature in Manali was 0.6 degrees Celsius below freezing point.
Keylong in Lahaul and Spiti district was the coldest place in the state at minus 3 degrees Celsius.
It was 9.4 degrees above freezing point in Dharamsala, minus 3.2 degrees in Kalpa and 3 degrees in Shimla.
Shimla last got snow Dec 14.
"High altitude areas of Lahaul and Spiti, Kullu, Kinnaur, Chamba, Mandi, Sirmaur and Shimla districts have been experiencing moderate to heavy snow since early Thursday," a Met official said.
Other parts of Shimla district, especially the upper reaches, experienced moderate snowfall.
These included apple-growing areas of Jubbal, Kotkhai and Kharapathar. Reports said some areas in Jubbal and Kotkhai got snow that was more than a foot deep.
Lower areas of the state including Dharamsala, Palampur, Solan, Nahan, Bilaspur, Una, Hamirpur and Mandi towns received moderate to heavy rains, bringing a considerable fall in temperature.
Incessant snow also hampered vehicular traffic on the highways in Shimla, Kinnaur, Chamba and Kullu districts.
Officials said buses for upper Shimla towns like Rohru, Theog, Kharapathar and Chopal have been temporarily pulled out of service due to snowfall.
For Rampur and Kinnaur, buses were plying via Dhami and Basantpur.
Vehicular traffic on the Chandigarh-Manali highway has been disrupted between Kullu and Manali.
Tourism industry representatives are happy.
"We hope to get a good number of guests this weekend," said D.P. Bhatia, general manager of Clarke's Hotel, Shimla.
The Met department's forecast said western disturbances - storm systems originating in the Caspian Sea and moving across the Afghanistan-Pakistan region - would remain active till Friday.