As the valley continues to freeze, breaking records of sub-zero temperatures, people are battling harsh life conditions
As the free fall in temperatures continue beyond Chillia Kalan, a forty day period of harsh chill, water bodies across Kashmir have turned into frozen turf.
With the mercury plummeting to levels as low as minus 8.8 Degree Celsius, chill of the ongoing winter has tumbled records.
Last time, it was during 1995, when Srinagar had recorded minus 8.3 Degree Celsius in 1995, says Sonam Lotus, Director Metrological Department, citing records available with the department.
Srinagar has recorded night temperature as low as minus 11.9 Degree Celsius in 1991.
Though the sub zero temperatures in the valley are common, the intensity of cold wave this season has taken many people, in particular the younger generation by surprise.
“I have not seen such a kind of winter in my life,” says 23 year old Simraan Mir, a post graduate student pursuing MBA from the University of Kashmir. Adding, that it is very hard to venture outside in this harsh cold.
As the people are bracing the harsh climatic conditions for last one week, the bone chilling cold has turned Dal Lake into ice. Waters in the Dal lake and Nigeen lake in the heart of capital city have once again crystallized into frozen frame.
Jana Begum, sexagenarian women from the Moti Mohalla habitation of Dal lake says that the freezing of the lake is not new. She has seen thicker ice frames over the lake, when she was young.
The lowest ever temperature recorded in Srinagar in the recent history was in 1893, when the night temperatures in the city dropped down to minus 14.4 Degree Celsius.
“Sudden fall in the temperature has restricted life. We normally use boats to carry out our daily chores, But to move around in these frozen waters is pretty hard,” says Showakt Ahmad Akhoon from the interiors of Nigeen, while trying to paddle his boat through the frozen lake, leaving behind the trail of broken ice pieces.
For Jehangir Ahmad a 9th standard student from a school in Hazratbal, the nostalgic story of people walking and playing over the frozen parts Dal lake has turned into reality.
“My grandparents and parents used to tell me about the times, when the waters in Dal used to freeze into thick ice frames and people, in particular children, used to play on it. Thank God, now I am also a witness to the same,” says excited Jehangir.
In 1959, then Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir had driven a car on the lake. According to the people, the Jeep moved over the frozen surface of the Dal Lake near the famed Hazratbal Shrine.
The water is said to have been frozen about 22 inch thick that time.
Recently many pictures of the youth and children playing and walking on the frozen parts of these lakes have gone viral on social media. A picture showing a group of pheran clad teenagers playing cricket on the lake is doing rounds on different social media platforms. Another picture showing a young man riding a bicycle on the frozen lake has also been uploaded by some pages.
Around the boulevard and the foreshore road, one can come across people trying to venture over these frozen parts, despite strict warning from the authorities and the experts.
District administration, Srinagar, recently issued a strong worded advisory for the general public to desist from moving on the frozen parts of water bodies, as the same can be fatal.
“There are many small springs in the water body, which do not freeze. Moving over them is to walk into death a trap,” suggests Ghulam Ahmad Nagoo, a resident of Nigeen lake. But unfortunately, people venture onto these icy surfaces at the risk to their life.
“These people usually come from different parts of the city to take photographs,” adds Nagoo, while demanding that the authorities take strict action against the violators.
“They do these type of activities only to gain some fame on the social media by uploading these daredevil pictures,” says another local living in the vicinity.
While people in Kashmir are bracing the harsh reality of winter, the crystallization of water surface in the Dal lake has brought one more glory of the nature to the fore.