ISLAMABAD  -   A huge number of tourists from all across the country especially from Punjab visited the snow capped hills of Murree on the weekend. With the start of snowfall, the hilly areas of the country have been blanketed with white layers of snow and among such areas is Murree. Tourists from across the country thronged Murree, Galiyat and adjoining areas on the weekend to enjoy snowfall, a report aired by a private news channel said. According to Murree’s residents, every year in winter season tourists rush to Murree to enjoy the snowfall.

A tourist, Zahid Waqas said that the beautiful weather became more pleasant when Murree received a captivating heavy snowfall. The tourists got excited when the rain water turned into snow. There is a great rush in restaurants and cafes due to which people have to wait for hours to get seats for tea and food. Businessmen and shopkeepers of the city seem to be happy to see a drastic spike in business activity in Murree.  “We are spending good family time and the children are especially happy,” said Ahsan Suleman, a tourist from Punjab. Mohsin Iftikhar, a tourist from Sialkot was overwhelmed to experience the spell of snow. “It is a blessing to have not only diversity in language and communities in our country, but to also have natural beauty in different regions.”

Tourists were out on the streets of Murree to enjoy food in the cold, amid snow topped trees and shops. The steam coming from machines beckons even those who do not plan on having a hot beverage. A vendor Hashim Zubair in the area said his business goes well in winters when snow falls. Spokesperson of City Traffic Police said they had made special traffic arrangements and devised a comprehensive plan to facilitate tourists heading to Murree to enjoy snowfall. He urged tourists to cooperate with traffic police so that the traffic mess, particularly during snowfall, can be avoided.

Motorists have been urged to avoid wrong parking on the roads of Murree. City Traffic Police (CTP) directed the motorists to avoid wrong parking on the roads of Murree which would help ensure a smooth flow of traffic. Talking to APP, a CTP spokesman said that the tourists travelling to Murree and other hill stations to enjoy snowfall were advised to ensure low air pressure in their tyres, keep fuel tanks of their vehicles full and obey traffic rules to avoid accidents. He informed that after Friday’s snowfall in Murree and its adjoining areas, over 71,300 vehicles entered Murree while nearly 56,700 returned from the tourists spot. He said, the CTP had designated several points for car parking. A number of main roads including Kashmir Point, Mall Road, Guldana Road and other roads had been closed for two-way traffic to ease traffic flow. He urged the tourists to cooperate with traffic police so that the traffic mess, particularly during snowfall, could be avoided.

As the snow blanket makes the hill station even more beautiful, this attracts a large number of tourists, but, the motorists face severe traffic congestion, he said adding as the roads get wet and slippery, the traffic moves ever slower. Traffic Police had issued an advisory for the visitors heading to the hill station and its surrounding areas.

The CTP had made special traffic arrangements and devised a comprehensive plan to facilitate the tourists during winter season. In this regard, he said that they had deployed senior traffic officers of the CTP to monitor traffic arrangements in the hill station to ensure smooth and safe traffic flow during the snowfall.

A dedicated, emergency helpline 051-9269200, had also been introduced for tourists on which citizens can call round the clock. He further said that the helpline was also serving as a control room from where all possible facilities were being organised for tourists and that they were making all out efforts to cope with any untoward situation. Nearly 6,300 tourists stranded in heavy snowfall were rescued and provided relief by CTP, he added. The CTP spokesman further said that they had increased the number of traffic wardens, junior traffic wardens — under the supervision of inspectors — which had been deployed at all key points of the hill station.

He advised the motorists to ensure functioning and fully charged batteries and use mechanically fit vehicles for the visit. The tourists rush to mountain resorts to enjoy snowfall, but get caught in traffic jams due to traffic rules violations which must be avoided.

The CTO Rawalpindi Muhammad Bin Ashraf had advised the tourists to avoid wrong parking, double lines, and speeding and taking selfies in the middle of the roads, he said adding, the tourists were suggested to keep tow chains with them for tying on tyres for driving in the snow. He said that enhanced number of traffic wardens under the supervision of senior traffic officers had been deployed to monitor traffic and guide the tourists. The authorities concerned had also made special arrangements to clear snow from the roads.