Kashmir Indepth

Under the clouds of ‘war’, Kashmir—the paradise on earth lost in fear

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Prepare for the greatest experience after eating a nutritious breakfast. You will travel over some of the highest passes in the world on your adventure, and you will be greeted by ever-changing vistas of the desolate landscape. Stop at the café on Khardung-La Pass, the highest all-season motorable road in the world, and take in the scenery; you'll feel as though you're on top of the world. Upon leaving Khardung-la, the terrain changes to a white sand desert as you approach the Nubra Valley, which is home to the Nubra Sand Dunes. Visit the Diskit Monastery, the oldest and biggest monastery in Ladakh, which also contains a sizable Buddha statue, if time permits.

Srinagar, Feb 28: As the clouds of uncertainty touched all time high ever since the relations between India and Pakistan soured, especially after February 14 suicide attack, Kashmir has been the worst victims of crisis. Tourism, the backbone of Kashmirs’ economy is on a ventilator as all the bookings of hotels and houses boats have been cancelled with tourist flow dropping to all-time low— five percent.

The main reason for the sudden dip in the tourist flow and the cancellation of the books is the recent escalation between the two nuclear powers and the face-off between India and Pakistan’s air-force.

Tour operators in Kashmir opine that since tensions escalated between India and Pakistan, the tourism industry has bore the brunt. “After 2016 agitation triggered by the killing of Burhan Wani’s killing, tourism industry is gasping for breath,” said Adil Rashid, who runs a hotel on famous Bouleavard overlooking Dal Lake in Srinagar.

File Photo

Kashmir is surrounded by beautiful lakes and stunning snow capped valleys and adorned with beautiful houseboats and floating markets. This beautiful valley is situated on the banks of the river Jhelum river and known as the ‘Paradise on Earth’. Kashmir is a dream destination for people of Kerala and Kashmir tour package from Kerala is a hot selling tour itinerary. The Must visit places in Kashmir are Sonmarg, Gulmarg,Pahalgam and Dal Lake. A relaxing Shikara ride in Dal Lake is the most interesting activity in Srinagar.

Despite of being a highly militarized area, Kashmir especially tourist places like Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg are completely safe. The Kashmir is as it best and considered safe as any other tourist places in India.

File Photo

“For many years there has been not even a single instance when a tourist visiting the valley hurt or ill treated by locals or militants. As the tourism is the main source of income locals treat the tourists as their guests and take the responsibility towards safeguard of tourists visiting the valley,” said Mushtaq Chaya, owner of Reddison chain of hotels in Kashmir.

However, ever since the situation has worsened between India and Pakistan, Kashmir’s tourism industry has received shocker after shocker in the form of cancellation of bookings and flights.

“Somehow we were hoping for a good tourism season this year, but the war like situation between India and Pakistan has cast shadow on everything. Almost 70 per cent tourist bookings stand cancelled while there are hardly five per cent tourists present in Kashmir at present,” said Saqib Nazir, a tour operator. “The war threat has plunged entire tourism into a deep crisis. Industry is on clutches and the only way to lift it is if India and Pakistan would start a meaningful dialogue on Kashmir, which is the main reason of rift between them.”

The house boat and shikara owners too are disappointed these days owing to the deepening crisis due to the prevailing war like situation between India and Pakistan. “Our days pass sitting idle and waiting for customers. There is hardly any tourist we ferry these days,” said Javaid Ahmed, a Shikara owner. He said despite being the tourist season, except few foreign tourists, none visits him for taking a shikara ride. “We are on the verge of starvation these days. There seems to be no hope at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

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