The revered Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir experienced fresh snowfall, forcing the suspension of helicopter service on Tuesday, officials said. However, the pilgrimage went on smoothly with thousands of devotees trekking the snow-covered route to pay their obeisance at the 5,200 feet-high shrine atop Trikuta hills in Reasi district, the officials said.

They said light snowfall was going on in the shrine area since Monday, the first round of snow this year, and so far a few inches of snow had accumulated on the ground. Helicopter service was suspended this morning due to inclement weather, the officials said adding that the chopper made only a few trips to and fro the shrine on Monday.

The service is likely to resume once the weather condition improves, they said. Despite snowfall, the officials said the pilgrimage is going on smoothly with occasional use of the ropeway and battery cars. Light to moderate snowfall was experienced in most of the high altitude areas, while the plains including Jammu city were lashed by intermittent rains since Monday afternoon.

“As expected, light to moderate rains in the plains of Jammu and snowfall at most places of Kashmir, in the high altitude areas of Jammu and at some places of Ladakh occurred during the past 24 hours,” an official of the meteorological department said.

The weatherman has predicted significant improvement in weather from Tuesday evening but said another spell of similar intensity is likely to hit Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh during January 12-13. The overcast conditions led to an increase in the night temperature in most parts of the Jammu region, where Batote along Jammu-Srinagar national highway was the coldest recorded place at minus 2.3 degrees Celsius.

Jammu city recorded a low of 9 degrees Celsius against the previous night’s 8.7 degrees Celsius, the official said adding that night temperature in the city was 1.6 notches above the season’s average. Bhaderwah town in Doda district recorded a low of minus 0.3 and Banihal town in Ramban district registered minus 0.2 degrees Celsius, the official said.

The minimum temperature recorded a dip and settled at 7 degrees Celsius in Katra — the base camp for the pilgrims visiting Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, he said.