Sunday, 1 July 2012

                              Kashmir Tourism- The neglected spots.

Kashmir is world over infamous for its pristine beauty that lies in the form of lush green meadows, loftier than the loftiest mountains and above all tranquil waters. The blue skies, from which the virgin rays of sun enter the environs making the valley subsequently exquisite, that whilst bidding adieu tourists boast of this place. The reinvigorating climate is the sole reason that brings people from every nook and cranny of India here, to enjoy its serenity. There are places that viewed as the places of first visit. The placid Dal stands as top priority for the tourist’s world over to visit. Then the places adjoining like The Mughal Gardens, Harwan and Pari Mahal which was built by Dara Shukoah located on Zaberwan range is another attraction site for tourists. Pari Mahal is an arcuate bundle of terraces from which we can get the whole view of Srinagar city. The Gulmarg is another jewel in the crown of Kashmiri vacationist spot famous for its wintry delights in the form of skiing. One could never forget the name of Pahalgam when sharing his views on the hot spots of Kashmir. Pahalgam is a totality of heaven’s enclosed by forests and gushing waters (River Lidder) that flow through its heart. It really is a gem of the tourist spots that brings forth the beauty of Kashmir and entertains among us the stargazing of living in a part of Eden.

The above description stands true from all corners about the mesmerizing beauty of Kashmir. But these places do not mark the end of Kashmir’s ageless beauty and placidity. There are places which have been neglected from the tourist hot spot map of Kashmir. Be them the places like ‘Lolab valley’, ‘Bungus valley’ – both in Kupwara district of Kashmir. About ‘Bungus’ it is said and believed that this meadow is just the replica of Gulmarg. It is an interminable meadow with grasses soft like cotton and waters that could be greater retreat to sea of tranquility. The impenetrable forests add up to the beauty of this place. This place is all but a dying spot of beauty crying for its identity. One could see the forlorn gazes of its surroundings and gloominess in its gusts of air that welcome you when one set foot on its greenish grasses. In yesteryears there was some news stating that a separate development authority for Bungus was established to explore and develop this heavenly part. But nothing has been done so far in practicality and everything stands only in paper work. And if there is some work going on that is at snail’s pace and will take years to complete. This place is some 40 km’s from the main centerfield of Kupwara and some 25 km’s from the remote town of Handwara but that route is too dangerous, so one would prefer the former as it is somehow good to travel through. The place has other barricades too and that are in the form of security forces stationed there. They only allow people with special permissions and that too in the months of June and July. So for the rest of the year 'Bungus' remains alienated from the rest of the tourist hubs. This shows how alienated and blanked out the place is from the map of tourist spots.

Lolab is very beautiful place some 30 odd km's from Kupwara. One would surely get to know from the people as the very first talk of their mouth is "Sahabji Lolab ko 'Land of Love and beauty' bolte hain" and this is their welcome gesture. Lolab valley is a definite example of nature's undisturbed environs with utmost beauty in the form of small meadows alongside which, brimming brooks flow. The flowers en-route the meadows of Lolab bring about a new ambience in the surroundings tinged with an aroma of love. The hospitality or the cordial reception of people has no match. The land is on seventh heaven when visited during the spring season. But surely place is less trodden by the visitors as it has not been declared a full scale tourist hub by department of tourism. The place needs just a slight makeover. The roads should be maintained properly and some guest houses should be made there so as put this place on the map of tourist spots. Proper advertisements and promotions would surely give big financial boost to people and indirectly to tourism department.

Another place that is waiting for its approval to be able to serve the people is not just too far away from the said district (Kupwara). And that place stands by the name ‘Machil’. This place is about 50 km’s from Kupwara. Mostly in the news due to some horrific crimes like fake encounters. But this place has its own story to tell. The dense forests that fence in from all sides provide all together a new look to the land. The wildly down flow of its rivers shall leave every sleepy-headed hypnotized. But one song, in fact the same one, it also is singing of neglectfulness and disregard. After getting a glimpse of this place I’m reminded of some stanza’s from Lal Ded’s poem which state:-
‘You are the heaven and You are the earth,
You are the day and You are the night,
You are all pervading air,
You are the sacred offering of rice and flowers and of water;
You are Yourself all in all,
What can I offer You?’

Another place is ‘Drang’. Just 3.5 km’s from Tangmarg. It is a compounding of perfect beauty, crystal clear skies and burbling river. The place has meadows too that are immaculate enough to be referred to as part of heaven. The caves of Drang, the topography of Drang have concealed magnets of attraction that shall never allow a person to see it off when visited. One could easily stroll in its meadow full of undistinguishable flora and fauna. Trekking through its jungles is always an awe-inspiring go-through. But one thing that really pinches deep is that this place not being too far from Gulmarg is being ignored and neglected. Drang is, I would say; Best for trekking, best for botanical research with its human friendly terrain. It can also be helpful to some social scientists with its caves at their disposal. But it is really shocking, that there is not even a single modern guest house, just a few bettered huts that are good for nothing. The road is in shambles with no local transport facility. One has to either walk down up to there or has to pay local carriage from Tangmarg double the normal rate. If Bungus, Lolab and Machil are far off to able to look after, what about Drang? It in actuality troubles me immense that such scenic spots are thrown to dogs. The development of these places will be able to generate much revenue and can really help the people dwelling there. We know that we are living in a place where unemployed youth are more than employed one’s, so this is really the best way to generate their income. Huge percentage of our state budget comes from tourism department alone. And if these places are developed and put on the Kashmir tourism map then there will be a huge rise in our budget which in-turn means greater development of Kashmir. When there are new spots to explore and trod through, then there is a gradual increase in the number of tourists, which means better welfare of people and govt’. So we really need to do some work about putting these places on the map of Kashmir tourism. We should visit these places more often and promote them too which will successively help in adding to the luster of this multi faceted diamond (Kashmir) changing its hues with changing environs. We people of Kashmir should stand by our land in the matters like tourism. We all know that the major chunk of the budgets of all states comes from tourism. If Maharashtrian’s can do it, if Rajhastani’s can do it with just mere resources why can’t we? They will never compete with us if we develop our tourism sector that way. Department of tourism with the help of we people will have to develop these places and make this sentence live again ‘Kashmir is Asia’s Switzerland’.
 Published in Rising Kashmir :-

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