Shimla/Manali, Dec 31 - The December chill has failed to freeze the thrill in the hills of Himachal Pradesh, where hotels were chock-a-block with revellers for the New Year's-Eve celebrations.
Members of the hospitality industry said the revellers arrived in various resorts across the state mainly from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
Yogesh Behl, general manager of Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corp (HPTDC), told IANS that this year they received a "marvellous response" from the tourists.
He said the number of tourists visiting Shimla, Kasauli, Narkanda, Manali, Chamba, Dalhousie, Dharamsala and Palampur was quite good.
The HPTDC's Chindi tourist facility, some 100 km from Shimla via Tattapani in the Karsog valley, has been sold out.
Although it's not snowing in the state, a mellow sunshine is making the hearts melt many a tourist visiting the hills to usher in the New Year.
Sammir and Seema Sachdeva from Chandigarh said they were glad to have come to Shimla for a holiday.
"What a bright and sunny day here. It's a perfect break from the dismal foggy weather of the plains," Sammir said.
Manmohan Singh, director of Shimla's meteorological department, said the temperatures in the hills were unusually high for this time of the year.
"Moreover, there is no fog in the high hills," he said.
The foggy weather conditions generally occur when the humidity level is 70 percent or more, he said. "In the hills, humidity is less than 30 percent. So the sky is clear," Singh added.
In Shimla, the minimum temperature was 1.7 degrees Celsius Monday. According to the met department, Sunday's minimum temperature was 2.3 degrees Celsius.
The night temperature in Manali dropped to -3 degrees Celsius Monday. The minimum temperature in the popular resort town was -1.6 degrees Sunday.
Balbir Thakur, a district tourism official in Manali, said: "We are expecting more than 20,000 tourists in and around Manali on the last day of the year."
He said the arrival of the tourists from Gujarat picked up after the assembly elections in that state earlier this month.
Rahul Saxena, a tourist from Delhi, said: "We really enjoyed hurling snowballs at each other near the Manali hills."
His daughter Divya said: "We enjoyed the snow-scooter rides and skiing. We had photo sessions against icicles."
The mighty Dhauladhar peaks overlooking Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama's official palace in Dharamsala was totally wrapped up in a white blanket Monday.
Himachal Pradesh, which is highly dependent on tourism, attracted 15 million tourists last year.
Kullu-Manali has emerged as a favourite tourist destination in the state, followed by Shimla and Dharamsala. (IANS)
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