Srinagar: Since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, the flow of tourists in Kashmir has been considerably low due to the covid protocol and advisory issued for tourists by the administration. However, now, when the COVID restrictions are eased and maximum people across the country are vaccinated tourist flow to Kashmir valley has increased.
According to official data released by the Kashmir administration and tourism department in the month of November, 1lakh 3 thousand tourists have visited Kashmir, and its first time in last seven years when such a large record number of tourists have visited Kashmir.
Now the attraction has gone double as Kashmir received its first snowfall, yesterday mountains surrounding Kashmir were covered in a white blanket of snow. The weather department had predicted snowfall in the mountainous areas of Kashmir and parts of Ladakh.
Gulmarg the world’s best ski resort recorded maximum snow in Kashmir hill stations around 12.1-inch snow accumulated in Gulmarg bowel and around 2ft in upper reaches of the resorts like Kongdori and Apperwat. Today since morning thousands of tourists were seen travelling towards Gulmarg to enjoy the first snowfall.
This also marks the beginning of the winter tourism season of Kashmir when tourists across the country and globe start visiting the Valley. But this time it seems only tourists from the country will visit as omicron may once again stop the foreign tourist to this place.
The Gulmarg bowel was jam-packed hundreds of tourists across the country were seen doing Gandola cable car rides and sledge rides. Feeling lucky that they witnessed the first snowfall in Gulmarg. Many honeymoon couples with a desire of seeing snow had come here and their dream came true.
Arti and Manoj a couple from Maharashtra were from the last three days camping in Gulmarg as they were aware that the metrological department has predicted snowfall and finally they witnessed it yesterday.
Arti said, “ We are lucky that our new life started with those beautiful pictures of nature and we will remember this all life.” “It is the best gift that we have got by nature and we enjoyed it a lot,” Manoj added and appreciated the hospitality of people who helped them in their tour.
“People are very nice here. I think more people should come to visit Kashmir and winter is very exciting here and Gulmarg is Switzerland of India said Pankaj Jain a tourist from Gujrat.
Another tourist from Ramesh Arora from Gujarat said “I feel safe here and I feel this is the real paradise on Earth. What we have heard or watched in news is totally wrong there is no threat people should come and enjoy this best place in the world. He said I saw snowfall for the first time, it’s paradise”
Surrounded by the snow-covered mountains, Gulmarg welcomes tourists across the globe during this time of the year. The place has been called the heart of winter sports in India. Gulmarg is also known world-class ski destination.
Seeing the huge increase in tourist footfall the Jammu-Kashmir tourism department have also have to tighten their belts. Many attractive programs are being organised in the coming days in Gulmarg that includes snow festival, snow games, snow festival and many more. Besides ski festival at Kongdori will also be organised by Gandola cable car authorities.
Gandola cable car project manager Showket Bhat said “ we are witnessing heavy tourist footfall and now as snowfall has knocked the Gulmarg it will increase.” He said if we go through the bookings of hotels and huts here, it seems that for next three months Gulmarg is packed and we too have prepared ourselves to provide best facilities to visitors here, we hope this year tourism industry in Kashmir will see its revival”
Tourists from across the globe visit the valley to enjoy skiing, ice skating, and snowboarding. Gulmarg has some of the best slopes in south Asia for such activities. Gulmarg ski slopes have one of the best snow powder in the world that makes them the best in the world.
Recently a youth of Tangmarg Arif khan who had learnt ski on the slopes of Gulmarg got selected in winter Olympics and he is all set to represent India at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.