SRINAGAR: ‘Chilai Kalan', the harshest winter period of 40 days in Kashmir started on Wednesday with the night temperature in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, dropping to -6.5 degrees Celsius, the lowest night temperature recorded in December in last six years.
‘Chilai Kalan’ the coldest period of the winter in Kashmir starts December 21 and ends on January 31. During this 40-day period, Kashmir remains in grip of cold wave conditions with highest chances of snowfall and rainfall while the night temperatures mostly remain below freezing point.
The taps and water bodies freeze during nights in ‘Chilai Kalan’ and people have to heat water supply lines to defreeze taps.
During 'Chilai Kalan', people enjoy ‘Harissa’ a meshed meat delicacy that is served hot in breakfast.
Harissa was brought to Kashmir by Mirza Hyder Duglat of Yarkand during the Chak period in 1540.
Later on, two Harissa shops were opened at Aali Kadal and Saraf Kadal area in downtown Srinagar.
Harissa is now a part and parcel of Kashmiri culture.
The 40-day ‘Chilai Kalan’ is followed by a 20-day long 'Chillai-Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day long 'Chillai-Bachha' (baby cold).
The ‘Chilai Kalan’ began on a colder note with the temperature in Srinagar dropping to -6.5 degrees Celsius during the night. It was the coldest night in December this winter and during last six years.
“The lowest temperature in December was recorded in 2010, when the mercury dropped to -6.6 degrees celsius,” a weather department official told Express.
He said dry weather in the Valley is expected to continue for next week.
“If the sky remains clear during the night, then night temperature may remain the same or drop further in the coming days but in case of cloudy weather conditions, the night temperature may increase,” the official said.
An elderly person Abdul Aziz said during the ‘Chilai Kalan’, Kashmir used to witness heavy snowfall and long icicles would hang from rooftops of houses for a long time.
He said for the past many years, Kashmir has received less snowfall during ‘Chilai Kalan’.
“May be it is because of changed climatic conditions,” Aziz said.
The ‘Chilai Kalan’ is expected to be even harsh this winter due to power crisis in Kashmir as every area in the Valley is facing unscheduled and prolonged power cuts.
People living in non-metered areas say they get power cuts of 12 to 14 hours every 24 hours while people in non-metered areas face power cuts of 4 to 8 hours.