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Gurez emerging as major tourist destination

by Staff

The virgin valley of Gurez close to Line of Control in north Kashmir is becoming another major tourism destination in the Himalayan region after saturation in the famous resorts of Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonmarg in last two years.

The government and private players have already started investing in the infrastructure projects. (HT File photo)

The place surrounded by magnificent Kail and pine forests has seen more than 300% increase in tourist arrivals in the past two years, especially in 2023 when nearly 50,000 tourists visited the place.

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Now efforts are on to connect the Gurez with Kargil via Kabuli Gali which could transform the region into main tourism attraction in the coming years. The government and private players have already started investing in the infrastructure projects at the picturesque location that lacked even basic facilities few years ago.

Gurez was once known for frequent cross LoC shelling. Not only tourists, even locals feared to visit the villages of Gurez Valley. However, now in summers there is a beeline of tourists and trekkers who want to explore the ancient villages and peaks of the Valley which is located on the edge of north Kashmir with river Kishanganga acting as the Line of Control in many parts of the Gurez. This picturesque place is also part of ancient historical silk route which has been taken up by famous historians and travellers during their lifetime. “This place is an emerging tourist destination and once infrastructure will is developed, the Gurez Valley will become the most sought after location in the country,” said a senior tourist officer.

A recent study to explore the tourist potential of offbeat destination Gurez in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, has suggested construction of a tunnel to make it an all- season destination, besides connecting it with Kargil via Kabuli Gali on which work has been done on large scale and a road from Gurez to Kargil is being operated by the army for defense purposes during summers.

The study suggests that the opening of Gurez-Drass road will become vital tourism link and could be connected to Mushkoo Valley in the Kargil side and become a new tourism circuit between Ladakh and northern part of Kashmir.

District administration in collaboration with Policy Advocacy Research Centre (PARC) recently conducted a survey about Gurez and it’s neighbouring villages and recommended series of measures which will help put Gurez on the international tourism map.

The study also portrayed encouraging figures which is testimony that the place is emerging as new tourism destination of J&K. The study said the tourist arrival to Gurez has grown to 46,038 in 2023 from 12, 472 in 2022 and the year 2019-20, Gurez saw around 5,000 visitors after the place was thrown open for tourism.

After the good number of tourist arrivals, many tour operators have started investing in the Gurez Valley. “This is going to become a most wonderful tourist destination so I am planning to build a guest house at the place,” said Khursheed Ahmad, a tour operator from north Kashmir. “I am not alone many people are investing in region with an eye on tourism potential,” he added.

The study also suggested slew of measures, especially banning the conversion of the agricultural land and safeguarding mountain agricultural practices. The villages of Gurez are known for production of high quality organic potato’s and pulses.

The study also recommends an all weather road for the Gurez which will also attract winter tourism in the region. According to the study from the past couple of years, the tourists from Delhi, Lucknow, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai and Chennai visited the remote parts of Gurez.

Gurez’s Dawar was awarded “Best Offbeat Tourist Destination” Award in 2022. Last year J&K Lt governor, Manoj Sinha also inaugurated the “Shinon Meeras”, the Shina Cultural Centre, curated and developed by the Indian Army and district administration that too has become a new tourist attraction in the area through which history and culture of the place is displayed to the visitors.

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