Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh witnessed a steady increase in tourist footfall over the past few weeks, with many determined to make the most of domestic travel while coronavirus cases in India remain low.
However, both natural calamities and overtourism have played spoilsport for those planning a visit to the two states that are a favourite for tourists across northern India. A flash flood, caused by a cloudburst in Dharamsala, caused heavy damage in the area around Bhagsu Nag village in McLeod Ganj. Alarming visuals of rainwater gushing through parked vehicles, even washing a few away, swarmed social media sites on Monday, July 12. Hotels in the area, which is a popular tourist attraction, also reported damage.
— ANI (@ANI) July 12, 2021
The flash flood also caused damage to a bridge on the Mandi-Pathankot highway, with the authorities stalling movement around the area, leading to a surge in roadblocks. Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, all incoming flights to Dharamsala airport at Gaggal were cancelled.
The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur urged all tourists visiting Dharamsala to postpone their visits to avoid getting stranded. Tourists already in Dharamsala and adjoining areas were advised to stay put, with the district administration making elaborate arrangements for their safety.
Meanwhile, in Uttarakhand, the police reportedly sent back about 8,000 vehicles on their way to Mussoorie and Nainital over the weekend, according to PTI. The action took place after several travellers were caught flouting COVID-19 related safety guidelines that were in place. Accordingly, new restrictions were imposed in the state last week, which required all tourists to register themselves on the Dehradun Smart City portal and get a prior online booking of their accommodation, and carry both as proof. Along with this, a negative RT-PCR test taken 72 hours prior has been mandated and hotels have been requested to function at 50 per cent occupancy.
“After videos went viral of huge crowds bathing in Kempty falls, the Uttarakhand government has taken steps to control the number of tourists,” Uttarakhand deputy inspector general of police (DIG) Nilesh Anand Bharane told PTI.
He also advised tourists to reroute to other picturesque destinations like Bhimtal, Ranikhet and Lansdowne in order to avoid overcrowding.
Sanjana Ray is that unwarranted tour guide people groan about on trips. When she isn't geeking out on travel and history, she can be found walking around the streets, crying for Bengali food. She is former Digital Writer at National Geographic Traveller India.