Manali, Feb 7 (Calcutta Tube) The five-day-long winter carnival, one of the biggest cultural festivals of Himachal Pradesh, began here Sunday amidst fanfare.
‘The 12th Manali Winter Carnival of dance and music began today (Sunday). Around 100 troupes from across the country would perform during the cultural bonanza,’ Manali’s Sub-Divisional Magistrate Rajeshwar Goel, who is also in charge of the carnival, told IANS.
One of the main attractions of the carnival is the national skiing championship at Gulaba slopes.
This time the Winter Games Federation of India has allowed the Himachal Pradesh Winter Games Association to hold the National Senior Alpine Skiing Championship at Gulaba.
The Solang ski slopes, which were totally bereft of snow cover, suddenly saw a good spell of snow Saturday. The organisers have decided to hold the skiing at Gulaba, 10 km upwards from Solang.
‘Still the snow cover is not adequate to hold skiing at Solang, so we are holding the championship right now at Gulaba,’ association president R.C. Negi said.
The championship also has entries from the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force, the Border Security Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
Goel said for the first time the organisers have hired professionals to manage the Winter Queen and Men’s Personality contests.
‘A cash prize of Rs.100,000 would be given to winners of both the contests,’ he said.
A laser graphic show would also be organised, besides a theatre festival to stage Himachali plays.
The Textiles ministry has organised a national wool expo in which 50 stalls from across the country have been set up.
Meanwhile, the cultural festival has triggered a surge in tourist arrivals in this picturesque tourist resort.
‘The fest has evoked a good response from the tourists. Moreover, a good spell of snow on the hills overlooking this town in the past two days is an added attraction for the tourists,’ Manali Hoteliers Association president Tek Chand Thakur said.
The Himachal Pradesh tourism department is expecting an increase in the arrival of tourists during the festival.
‘We are hoping to bag additional revenues due to influx of tourists during the fest,’ Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corp (HPTDC) general manager Yogesh Behl said.
‘The occupancy is more than 90 percent in most of our hotels in Manali,’ he added.
The town has more than 350 hotels, restaurants and guest houses.
Tourism is an important contributor to Himachal Pradesh’s economic development, besides horticulture and hydropower generation.
The state attracted 11,437,155 tourists, including 400,583 foreigners, last year.
Kullu-Manali has emerged as a favoured tourist destination, followed by Shimla and Dharamsala.