Residents of Gaya, which has recorded the lowest temperature in Bihar at 4 degrees Celsius, are suffering under the double agony of biting cold and acute power crisis.
"For us, electricity is not only a luxury during summer. It is also a luxury when the cold wave grips us," said Janardhan Singh, who lives in Rampur, Gaya
Singh's neighbour Mahavir Prasad said that there was no point in trying to tackle the cold with a room heater as they didn't work most of the time due to the electricity crisis.
"It is usual for us to spend cold and windy winter nights without power. Lack of power adds to our woes when Gaya remains enveloped in a thick fog," he said.
Gaya, located nearly 100 km from Patna, is an important pilgrimage for both Hindus and Buddhists.
According to an engineer of the state electricity department, Gaya needs 60 MW of electricity to meet local demands but barely manages to get 30 MW.
"At present, Gaya is getting less than half of its power requirement. This scarcity is bound to hit the common people, who have purchased geysers, room heaters and immersion," said the official.
Santosh Yadav, a resident of AP Colony in Gaya, said that it was difficult to even get access to fresh water from boring pumps due to the irregular electricity supply.
"In winter, when the cold weather forces people to stay indoors, the town plunges into darkness as most of the feeders stop functioning after dusk," Prasad said.
Mohammad Shamim, a resident of Gewal Bigha, said that locals get electricity for only six to eight hours per day.
Local residents complain that the power situation has remained dismal for years and they have continued to suffer. Most residents have been forced to opt for a lantern, a lamp or battery-operated emergency lights.
The power supply is worse is rural Bihar, where many villages have to survive without electricity for 24 hours. People in small towns and district headquarters get electricity for four to six hours a day.
According to the electricity department, Bihar faces a deficit of 1,000 MW of power a day and the situation is likely to worsen with the onset of summer.