SRINAGAR: Chilla-e-Kalan, the severest part of Kashmirs winter, arrived with a smiling face on Friday - bright sunshine and clear skies in sharp contrast to the brooding clouds of a few days ago.
Without a blanket of cloud from dusk to dawn, night temperatures have dipped below the freezing point again, raising the prospect of an icy ordeal during the coming days.
The ski resort of Gulmarg in North Kashmir had a low of minus 10. 8 degrees Celsius, and Pahalgam in the south was minus 8.2 degrees at night.
In Srinagar, night temperatures stayed around a degree below zero on Thursday, while daylight hours on Friday were just above 10.
The forty-day period lasting up to the end of January is usually associated with heavy snowfall and ice-cold conditions, made worse in Kashmir by acute power shortages, and this year, a crisis over LPG.
As the chilla-e-kalaan deepens, people generally wake up to frozen water pipes, frosted windows and a chill that penetrates to the bones.
The icy conditions get worse if the weather remains dry, and night skies remain cloudless.
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