Srinagar: The villages near Line of Control (LoC) in the northern region of Kashmir are now a new habitat for trekkers and tourists coming from different parts of the country.
Not only from Kashmir valley but people from different states are exploring the tourist spots and enhancing the government’s initiatives of border tourism in Kashmir.
“It’s really great to see that the people who suffered much are now enjoying themselves. People from different parts of the country are visiting us, listening to us besides exploring the hidden beauty of Kashmir” said Irshad Ahmad, a local resident of Uri.
He gave credit to Prime minister Narendra Modi for his efforts to uplift the sufferings of poor people belonging to the border villages of Jammu and Kashmir.
Irshad said that since long the people of border villages were badly targeted with the Pakistan shells which always forced people to stay away from this part of the world, “but since Article 370 was scrapped we people too start living our dreams and with the passage of time everything turned into reality, Irshad added.
The villages of Baba Fareed, Kandi, Rustom Nambla (TV Tower), Copra Peak, Dudran, Dana Dudran, Chotali, Zulfiqar View Point once badly affected with Pakistan shelling are now best tourist locations in the border town of Uri in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
Khatija, a housewife from Machil sector of Kupwara with tears flowing from her eyes thanked Prime minister Narendra Modi for his commitment towards this area as they saw a new dawn with people across the country visiting the border villages.
She said this border tourism has brought a smile to their faces.
She added that the current ceasefire between the two nations has brought some respite to the locals as dozens of tourists and trekkers are visiting the villages on a daily basis and enjoying the night camping.
Irfan Shah, CEO of valley-wanders, an off-road club, in a chat said that he came forward with a mission to explore Kashmir and other parts of the valley and let people explore it.
“I believe in channelising youth in adventure and sports and also in spiritual tourism,” he said.
Irfan said that he started with a small group which later turned into a team and so far had explored hidden places of the northern region of Kashmir, including the most beautiful places Keran, Machil, Gurez.
The main motive was to visit the border areas of north Kashmir not only to explore but to reach out to the people living there and to boost border tourism.
“It was very difficult during the initial stage but thanks to the Almighty everything worked smoothly and later his club also set a record off-road by covering the most dangerous route from Machil-Gurez,” Irfan added.
In his message to youth, Irfan said that as we all are well aware about the ground situations where our younger generation are being involved in drugs and other wrong practices, the best medicine for all such illegal activities is travelling and to explore beautiful places of our paradise.
Irfan said that in the future other routes, where people haven’t so far travelled, his group will explore those areas.
He said earlier people were very much afraid to explore border tourism due to the Pakistan shelling and now after guns fell silent, locals of these border villages too are enjoying the moment of joy with the rest of the people.
Irfan further added, “It is really great to explore our own land, especially camping inside the dense forests, is a new dawn for the people of border villages.”
Mubashir Teli, a trekker from Sopore town of north Kashmir said exploring border tourism is like people reborn as since childhood they have only seen destruction, sufferings by Pakistan shelling.
He said the people living near the LOC were living a life of hell and misery and were in complete trauma, but finally a sigh of relief is for them because of the border tourism through which they started believing in their dreams and luck.
Mubashir while narrating the story of border villages after spending a week in the dense forests, said people are very much happy now and are appreciating the LG-led government for the initiatives of border tourism.
“Earlier, the possible roaring of guns on the LoC used to prevent us from such adventure, however, the ceasefire has generated enthusiasm among us. Now the groups of young people can be seen trekking in the upper reaches of the area without any fear,” Mubashir added.
There are several places in the Uri area of Baramulla district which have potential for tourism, however, the hostility between the two neighboring countries would keep these areas from achieving their tourism potential.
The tourist destinations like Baba Fareed, Kandi, Rustom Nambla (TV Tower), Dana Nambla, Nambla Waterfall, Bosiya, Copra Peak, Dudran, Dana Dudran, Chotali, Zulfiqar View Point, Bilal Abad Garkote, Machichurand, Lachipora Wildlife sanctuary, Limber Wildlife sanctuary, Ghati, Gabaywar and Vijee Top in Uri subdivision are the top sought after tourist destinations for trekkers in the recent months.
India and Pakistan in February this year agreed to ceasefire along the LoC and all other sectors
Irfan Rasool Wani (IFS) North Kashmir circle Conservator said that the forest department has opened 75 trekking routes in Jammu and Kashmir and forest rest houses have been put to online booking for the public.
“We are developing environment parks near these trekking routes and Forest Rest houses so that ecotourism is promoted in offbeat destinations. This is helping us in forest conservation as we are involving local people in these activities. They get a livelihood also. These months we are witnessing a massive footfall in these parks,” Irfan said.