SHIMLA: Enormous icicles surfaced in large parts of the Himachal Pradesh capital with the minimum temperature remaining close to sub-zero on Wednesday, the Met said indicating the onset of a harsh winter ahead.
The weathermen also forecast crystal clear skies with chilly nights till the New Year dawns.
Old-timers said icicles, a common feature till 1980s, have brought fresh memories of the past. They are conjuring up a delightful spectacle for tourists, too.
"What a delight to see these hanging icicles in front of my bedroom windows," octogenarian Hem Singh Thakur, who lives in Jakhu hills, the highest point of the town, told IANS.
He said it was after a long break that these icicles surfaced in Shimla.
Another resident, Bhiwani Sharma said in some areas the icicles were five-six feet long.
"This time the size of icicles is enormous, indicating onset of harsh winters. For the past few years, they are appearing but their size was too small," she added.
Icicle, a pendent spear of ice formed by the freezing of dripping rooftop water, indicates harsh winter.
"For the first time I have seen these icicles," remarked Yashika Gupta, a tourist from Ahmadabad.
The minimum temperature though in Shimla was 2.7 degrees Celsius, up from Tuesday's 1.7 degrees.
Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti district was the coldest place in the state recording minus 11.1 degrees Celsius.
Manali, whose nearby hills were still wrapped in a thick blanket of snow, recorded a low of minus 3.4 degrees Celsius, while it was minus four degrees in Kalpa, four degrees in Dharamsala, 1.5 degrees in Palampur and 1.6 degrees in Dalhouise.
Manmohan Singh, Director of the Meteorological Office here, told IANS there would be no chance of snowfall till December 31.
Thereafter, the western disturbance was likely to get active from January 3 with chances of rain and snow, he said.
Hill destinations have been experiencing long hours of sunny weather for over a fortnight and the day temperatures in most places have risen.
The maximum temperature in the hill state is one-two degrees above the season's average. Though nights and mornings are intensely cold.
The weather in Shimla, Kufri, Narkanda, Chail, Kasauli, Dharamsala, Palampur, Dalhousie and Manali is "warmer" in the day, perfect for a break from the biting chill of the plains.