Border tourism in northern parts of Kashmir has witnessed a remarkable surge since the last three years.
Guns fell silent along the Line of Control (LoC) in February 2021, opening up opportunities for tourists to explore once-inaccessible areas. Keran, Machil, Bangus, Tangdhar, Gurez, and Uri of areas of north Kashmir which were previously infiltration corridors for terrorists, have now become popular tourist destinations.
An official said that the Indian Army and J&K tourism department have joined forces to organize events that promote these areas and attract more tourists. As a result, the number of visitors to these border tourist destinations has significantly increased, with at least 80,000 tourists recorded so far this year.
He said that the transformation of these neglected border areas has brought joy to the local residents, who are hopeful for a brighter future. The locals express their happiness at the newfound attention these regions are receiving, as they were often overlooked in the past. The locals attribute the appeal of these areas to their unique culture, simplicity, and traditional way of life, which are not commonly found elsewhere.
“Nestled in the lap of the mountains, our border villages have their own charm,” says Bashir Ahamad, a resident of Gurez valley. He highlights the growing engagement of people in the tourism sector since the beginning of the year.
Mushtaq Ahmad another Karnah residents believes that continued efforts by the army, local communities, and the government will contribute to further development in these areas.
He also emphasizes the need for a separate development authority for Gurez, which would facilitate improved infrastructure and enhance the overall experience for tourists.
The residents of these border areas eagerly welcome tourists, cherishing the opportunity to share their rich cultural heritage.
Mohammad Afzal from Karnah is astounded by the unprecedented rush of tourists in the past year, a phenomenon that had not been witnessed before.
He acknowledges that due to border tensions, people were initially hesitant to visit these regions. However, with the prevailing peace and stability, tourists are now flocking to the area. Ismail expresses optimism about the future of border tourism and highlights the government’s role in transforming these regions into thriving tourism hubs.
Abdul Gani, a resident of Uri, shares Afzal’s sentiments and emphasizes the importance of government support and investment in border areas to bolster their potential as tourism destinations.
“Our homes are always open to tourists, and we welcome them,” he says. Gani believes that initiatives aimed at uplifting the less fortunate in these areas will receive similar support and appreciation from the locals.
The Indian Army and the J&K tourism department have played a crucial role in driving the tourist rush to these once-overlooked regions. They have organized various events and activities to showcase the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the border areas. These initiatives have successfully captivated the interest of tourists, who are now eager to explore these unexplored landscapes.
The government’s commitment to the development of these border areas is evident. They are investing in infrastructure, such as road networks, accommodation facilities, and other necessary amenities to enhance the overall tourist experience. As a result, the tourist rush is expected to grow even further, boosting the local economy and creating new opportunities for the residents.
This newfound interest in border tourism not only contributes to economic growth but also fosters cultural exchange and understanding between different regions. It allows tourists to witness firsthand the resilience and warmth of the local communities in these border areas.
With the promising trajectory of border tourism, these once-neglected areas are now poised to become vibrant and sought-after destinations for travelers from around the world. As tourists embrace the beauty of these regions, they also contribute to the livelihoods of the locals, creating a win-win situation for all. As the borders continue to symbolize peace rather than conflict, the rush of tourists serves as a testament to the shared desire for harmony and unity
As more tourists explore the charm of the border areas, the local residents eagerly welcome them, showcasing their warm hospitality and rich cultural heritage. The future of border tourism in Kashmir looks promising, with the potential to drive economic growth and foster greater understanding among diverse communities.
“Visiting the border areas in Kashmir was a truly mesmerizing experience. The beauty of the landscapes combined with the rich cultural heritage of the locals made it a trip of a lifetime,” Rakash Sharma, a delhi based tourist said.
“Visiting the border areas allowed me to witness the harmony and unity between different cultures. The vibrant traditions, delicious cuisine, and heartfelt welcome by the locals made me feel like a part of their extended family,” said Diptii, another tourist from Mumbai.