Winter season back..Fresh snowfall in Himachal!

Shimla: After a long break, popular tourist resorts in Himachal Pradesh on Friday got fresh snow, pushing down the mercury by several notches.

Hoteliers, however, cheered up in the hope that tourists will converge in large numbers during the three-day weekend that ends with Holi on Monday.

Tourist spots near Shimla, the honeymooners' paradise Kufri, Fagu, Narkanda and Chail experienced moderate snowfall, turning the hill stations even more picturesque.

Likewise, Manali and its nearby Solang ski slopes and Kalpa, 250 km from here, also saw heavy spells of snow, the weather office here said.

"High altitude areas of Lahaul-Spiti, Kullu, Kinnaur, Chamba, Sirmaur and Shimla districts have been experiencing moderate snow since Tuesday," a Met official said.

Lower areas in the state including Dharamsala, Palampur, Solan, Nahan, Bilaspur, Una, Hamirpur and Mandi towns meanwhile received moderate to heavy rains, bringing a considerable fall in temperature. Tourism industry representatives are happy with fresh snowfall.

"This weekend we are expecting a spike in footfall of tourists after this snowfall," D.P. Bhatia, liaison officer with the Oberoi Group of hotels, told IANS.

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 Sunday.