By: Vijay Kumar Verma, Group Editor-ICN World
SHIMLA : Gradually all the restrictions imposed on the public life in J&K post abrogation of Article 370 are being lifted, one by one. The latest being on the use of internet, though limiting the access to a few number websites and at a speed of 2G as a continued precautionary measure. While political leaders continue to be under house arrest and certain other elements too under arrest, measures like inviting foreign parliamentarians to assess the prevailing situation in the valley are aimed at creating an amicable image in other countries. Students are back to schools and other educational institutions are too functioning normally. The traffic and life appear to be returning to normal.
With such a scenario the chances of a great tourism season in the valley during the upcoming summer season are opening up. The division of the state into union territories and their amalgamation with the Union government has resulted in extension of all the national benefits to residents of the state. This will gradually lead to all round development of the people.
Chances are that the Bollywood too would find destination Srinagar there first choice once again. A few decades ago many of the Bollywood movies used to be filmed in the picturesque valley. It used to be the favorite destination of film makers as well as actors. Tourism was the greatest source of income for the people. And the beneficiaries were much more from the common masses. The three decades of tourism silence on the streets has greatly impacted the life and economy of the state and more of the general masses. The new administration says political interference is likely to save the people from cross fire.
The normalization of situation is likely to bring back the ravellers as well as the travelers to the valley. While the winter season is coming to a close, the summer tourism will take off from the month of April when one of the world’s largest Tulip garden in Srinagar opens to showcase the beauty of Nature. Hundreds of varieties in scores of colors and shapes sprawl in beautiful endless rows in the gardens. The view is not only beautiful but breathtaking. Each moment of his stay here one wants to capture in the camera as well as the inner eye, which is indeed the “bliss of solitude” in the words of famous poet William Wordsworth. ‘Ten thousand saw I at a glance’. And who can forget the film stars strolling cosy with their beauties down the tulip alleys. The film song “Dekha ek khwab to ye silsile hue” starring Amitabh Bachhan and Rekha filmed in this very garden will remain alive in the eyes of past film goers. God’s will such a scenario may again come alive when film-makers opt to the beautiful locales of Srinagar to those of Europe.
The Dal lake with hundreds of Shilaras floating on its surface showcase the very brand image of Srinagar. Not many care to find that there is a floating township too behind these shikaras. Hundreds of boat owners and workers live in this town. A visit to the water lanes behind the shikaras reveal that there are fully packed shops and showrooms in the area. Not only locals but tourists are also drawn to these alleys for original Kashmir craft. People roam about in these lanes in small boats which have to be anchored to the shops like one parks his car in streets. The shopkeepers offer a welcome hand to the customers to step into their floating shops. Not only that, vegetables and daily need vendors too are seen selling their ware from their floating boats. The water lanes of Dal give the look of a European backwater town. There is beauty of Nature, of the culture and of the sweet hospitality of the locals. And on the food street one may have ample choices of eating western, European north Indian or Kashmiri food. On the table or squatting on the floor. Enjoying special Kashmiri Wazwan which is a multi cuisine platter served in traditional copper and brass utensils is a great delicacy.
Beyond the known beautiful tourist places, Srinagar is city to not just visit and see but to explore. Apart from the famous tourist places like Nishat Bagh, Chashme Shahi, Hazrat Bal, zoological garden within the city, there are many other spots in a radius of 100 km. Railway line which used to be a dream is already operational in the valley right from Banihal to Baramulla and that too at a highly subsidized rates. The track to connect Baramulla with Jammu is also being completed speedily. A travel from Baramulla to Nowgam (Srinagar) is a pleasure to enjoy. The international airport of Srinagar is well connected to Chandigarh and Delhi on a just one hour flight. One may need at least a week long trip to enjoy the places but for those in a hurry a weekend trip may also suffice for those.
So pack up and go.