Mohammad Athar

Srinagar, December 23


Chilai Kalaan is the local name for forty days of winter’s harshest phase in Kashmir. Its date is always set. It begins annually on December 21 on winter’s solstice – the year’s shortest day and longest night when the least amount of sunlight in received in the northern hemisphere.


Here are six reasons why Chilai Kalaan is awesome and fearsome.


1. Sun never shines: If it shines, it is a rare day of Chilai Kalaan. The forty days of Chilai Kalaan are usually cloudy, sombre and chilly. The day temperature can be anywhere between seven to ten degrees Celsius on an average day. The night temperature, however, is mostly freezing and mercury can plunge anywhere in the minus range. Living through a Chilai Kalaan is an adventure in itself. It is that time of year which is traditionally a family moment.

2. It is time to visit Gulmarg: Gulmarg is the meadow resort in north Kashmir, 50 kilometers from Srinagar. Winter changes the landscape of Gulmarg as the white spotless snow covers its meadows and pines. The meadow resort of Gulmarg changes into a stunning skiing destination. Anyone interested in winter sports and adventure sports, Gulmarg is the place where you should be spending the winter. There are also frozen and long icicles in Gulmarg.

3. Keep yourself warm: It is the only mantra to live through the Chilai Kalaan. Keep a wardrobe of warm cloths and wear what shall keep you warm through cold days and freezing nights. If you are warm, Chilai Kalaan is an experience to live through, with which you will fall in love, almost instantly.

4. If lucky, you can see the frozen Dal: There are legends about the frozen lake of Dal, located in the heart of Srinagar city. It is said that a jeep was driven over the frozen lake from one end to another in 1965, when the famed water body was completely frozen. The lake was again frozen in 1987 when authorities had to deploy police personnel on its banks to avoid any misadventure by locals and tourists.

5. It has already touched minus 6.5 degrees Celsius: This year’s Chilai Kalaan has begun on a cold note and started with the night temperature plunging to minus 6.5 degrees Celsius. It was the coldest December night in Srinagar in last six years.

6. It snows in Chilai Kalaan: If you have never experienced the soft flakes of snow, Chilai Kalaan is the time you should be in Kashmir. The older generations claim to have lived through several feet of snow in Chilai Kalaan, which would block entrances to houses in Srinagar. It still snows in Srinagar, but in lesser amounts and the entrances are no longer blocked. But it snows heavily in resorts of Pahalgam, Sonmarg and Gulmarg, and along the famed Mughal road. 

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