Tourism: Joy in Border Areas


Kashmir Magazine

TKM Desk

Northern Kashmir’s border regions have experienced an unprecedented influx of tourists since the reaffirmation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan.
With guns falling silent along the Line of Control (LoC) in February 2021, opportunities for tourists to explore once-inaccessible areas have opened up. Keran, Machil, Bangus, Tangdhar, Gurez, and Uri—areas that were previously known as infiltration corridors for terrorists—have now transformed into popular tourist destinations.
The Indian Army and the J&K tourism department have collaborated to organize events that showcase these areas, drawing more tourists. This collaboration has led to a significant increase in the number of visitors to these border tourist destinations, with at least lacs of tourists recorded so far this year.
Local residents are overjoyed by the transformation of these previously neglected border areas and are hopeful for a brighter future. They attribute the newfound appeal of these regions to their unique culture, simplicity, and traditional way of life.
“In the embrace of these mountains, our border villages hold a unique charm,” says Abdul Rashid, a resident of Gurez valley, highlighting the growing engagement of people in the tourism sector.
Sajad Ahmad, another resident of Karnah, believes that continued efforts by the army, local communities, and the government will contribute to further development in these areas. He stresses the need for a separate development authority for Gurez to improve infrastructure and enhance the overall tourist experience
Residents eagerly welcome tourists, cherishing the opportunity to share their rich cultural heritage. Arif Khan from Karnah notes the unprecedented rush of tourists in the past year, a phenomenon not witnessed before. He expresses optimism about the future of border tourism and the government’s role in turning these regions into thriving tourism hubs.
Majid Khan, a resident of Uri, welcomes tourists with open arms and emphasizes the importance of government support and investment in these areas.
“Our homes are always open to tourists, and we welcome them,” he says, highlighting the support and appreciation initiatives aimed at uplifting these areas receive from the locals.
The Indian Army and the J&K tourism department have played a pivotal role in attracting tourists to these once-overlooked regions by organizing events and activities that showcase their natural beauty and cultural heritage.
The government is committed to developing these border areas, investing in infrastructure such as road networks, accommodation facilities, and other amenities to enhance the overall tourist experience. This investment is expected to further boost the local economy and create opportunities for residents.
The newfound interest in border tourism not only drives economic growth but also fosters cultural exchange and understanding among 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 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 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,” said Satpal Yaduv, a Delhi-based tourist.
“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 Pooja Sharma, another tourist from Mumbai.
 


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