A Reason to Retreat or Revel: Chillai Kalan

 70-day-long winter in Jammu and Kashmir, India

In Jammu and Kashmir, the seventy-day long winter season consists of three periods depending on severity:

 Chillai Kalan

The Chillai Kalan, from the third week of December to the end of January, is the harshest winter period lasting for almost forty days. Onset of the period generally coincides with the winter solstice (December 21 / 22). During this time, chances of snowfall are the highest and the frequency is the maximum due to western disturbances traveling from the Caspian Sea to the state via Afghanistan and Pakistan. If the snow falls in the beginning of the period, some relief is ensured from bone-chilling cold. 

Uninterrupted heavy snowfall spells usually disrupt the national highways connecting the state to the rest of the country. Locals usually stay inside the homes and work on handicrafts.  

However, this is the best time for ice- and snow-based adventures, including ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, snow walking, snow watching, and snow trekking. The dramatic change in the scenery has inspired many poets and writers who have enriched the local literature.

Chillai Khurd 

The Chillai Khurd (Khorad) starting in the end of January lasts for twenty days. During this period, cold is less than that in the Kalan. “Chillai Khurd” means “small cold.”

 Chillai Bachha

The Chillai Bachha, the “baby cold,” stays in the state for ten days during February.

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