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ACs become ‘hot’ reality in hills of north India
Shimla/Jammu/Chandigarh, Apr 16 (IANS):
Published on 16 Apr. 2010 11:27 PM IST
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Gone are the days when one would need woollens while travelling to the hills of northern India in the sweltering summer months. These days, air-conditioners are essential even in the mountains.
Hotels installing air-conditioners in Shimla and other tourist spots across Himachal Pradesh and pilgrims sweating at the 5,200-foot-high shrine of Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Kashmir have become a ‘hot’ reality this summer.
In the hills of Shimla, fans and air-conditioners give some respite from the heat.
‘The maximum temperature across the state these days is almost three to eight degrees above average for this time of the year due to lack of rain or thundershowers,’ Manmohan Singh, director of the meteorological office in Shimla, told IANS.
Many towns in Himachal, like Bilaspur, Una and Hamirpur, now have over 40 degrees Celsius temperatures, making them no less hot than the plains.
Parmvir Bains, a tourist from Amritsar visiting Shimla, said: ‘The rising mercury and long power cuts in Punjab have brought us to Shimla. But here too, you prefer to stay indoors in the daytime and want to turn on the fan.’
‘Right from Amritsar till Shimla, the AC of our car was on. Unlike a few years ago when we used to roll down the car windows from Parwanoo (the first town in Himachal located on the Haryana border, 25 km from Chandigarh) to get fresh, cool breeze, things have changed,’ he added.
On Shimla’s famous Mall Road, leading shops like Baljee’s restaurant and clothes trader Dewan Chand Atmaram, who get visitors from all over, have installed air-conditioners over the last four to five years.
K.D. Sharma, deputy general manager of Holiday Home Hotel in Shimla, told IANS: ‘Now, tourists are demanding air-conditioners in the restaurants and rooms. Of course, the room tariff will go up in air-cooled rooms.’
Added Anand Sharma, manager of Ros Common, a hotel in Kasauli: ‘A brief spell of rain brings down the temperature sharply. But long dry spells like this year have made the hills quite hot. We are planning to install pedestal fans.’
The tourist resort town of Manali in the picturesque Kullu Valley is also facing the heat.
Tek Chand Thakur, president of the Manali Hoteliers Association, said: ‘We are still banking on fans. If the mercury continues to move up, we will have to install air-conditioners.’
The sales of air-conditioners in hill stations have gone up in the last few years.
Air-conditioner dealer Mohit Khanna said: ‘The sale of ACs in the hospitality segment picked up in a big way. There was a 60 percent jump in sales last year compared to the previous year. Shimla, Solan, Una, Bilaspur and Hamirpur districts saw the maximum air-conditioners being sold.’
People buying flats in the hill environs are asking builders to install fans and AC ducts. Other popular tourist resorts like Kufri, Palampur, Chamba and Dalhousie are also experiencing much hotter weather.
At the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu, where woollens were worn even in May in the past years, pilgrims now sweat in just shirts. First-time visitors conjure up images of snow-capped peaks, dense forests and waterfalls - only to their disappointment.
Katra, the base town from where the ascent for the shrine begins and where the temperature would hover around 25 degrees Celsius in mid-April just three years ago, is now hotter by at least 10 degrees.
‘We used to put on air-conditioners in May-end or June, but this year ACs are already functioning,’ said Sushil Kumar, a hotelier in Katra.
In Jammu and Kashmir, tourist places like Patnitop, 110 km north of Jammu on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, and Sanasar, 20-km from Patnitop, are also experiencing high temperatures.
‘It is no longer a fairy land where a cool breeze will greet visitors. These are now hot and dry places and we are
worried whether tourists will visit this year,’ said Sat Pal, a taxi driver.
In Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana and the gateway to resorts in Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir,
hoteliers say non-AC rooms are passe.
‘Even the low-budget tourist wants an AC room. Hotels are forced to have air-conditioners in all rooms. But the room price is going up because of this,’ Vikram Wadhwa, owner of Hotel Landmark in Sector 22, said.

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