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Snow Blankets Kaghan Valley

December 20, 2023

BALAKOT: After heavy five-inch snowfall in Naran, Batakundi, Lake Saif-ul-Malook, and the surrounding areas, Balakot and its neighboring areas have been experiencing nonstop rain since last night. In the Kaghan Valley, some areas have seen temperatures below freezing.

The Kaghan Highway has been closed past Naran because of the severe snowfall, raising the possibility of landslides and glacier movements. The Kaghan Development Authority’s (KDA) spokesman, Moazzam Khan, acknowledged that the highway is closed to traffic after Naran because of safety concerns.

Travelers who are eager to take advantage of the snowfall may still reach Naran, as the Kaghan Development Authority has sent staff and equipment to help and direct guests. Temperatures have dropped to below three degrees Celsius in a number of places, including Lake Saiful Malook, Batakundi, and Jalkhad. Subzero temperatures are being seen in other areas.

For the next 24 hours, the Meteorological Department predicts that this cycle of rain and snowfall will continue sporadically.

Winter’s challenges

Winter has made firewood more challenging to get, forcing residents of the beautiful Kaghan Valley to rely on supplies they stockpiled in previous seasons.

Altitudes make it more difficult to prepare food and get it, especially after winter.

Having experienced several cold winters, the locals store food and wood, limiting their use to ensure it lasts till April. Additionally, the winters cause closed roads, rendering certain areas of the valley unusable and confining residents to their houses.

From the Bhunja Noori Valley, Abdul Ghafoor says he only goes outside when he is well-dressed in layers of warm clothes. Locally farmed potatoes, beans, bottle gourds, and poultry make up the majority of the diet, he claimed. As per Ghafoor, “It maintains the body’s appropriate temperature.”

Another source of protein that helps the villagers satisfy their nutritional needs is the trout from the Kunhar River, according to Wajid Ali Khan, the principal of the nearby school.

He claimed that the key to the valley’s residents’ long and healthy lives was the desi ghee that most households make at home.

Ilyas Khan, a member of the Balakot local council, brought attention to the fact that sections of the valley had already been sealed off by more than four feet of snow in some locations.

According to Khan, there were also power outages and a breakdown in communication, which occasionally left the inhabitants stranded.

He suggested initiatives to enhance winter tourism and encouraged the government to take action to make life easier for the people living there. He said, “Winter tourism will be a lifeline for locals who frequently don’t have any earning opportunities due to the weather.”

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