Ranbir Kapoor in Pahalgam

Actor Ranbir Kapoor is busy shooting for his film Rockstar at Pahalgam, along with the film’s actress Nargis Fakhri and director Imtiyaz Ali.

Ranbir Kapoor
Nargis Fakhri
Nargis Fakhri

Other cast members include Piyush Mishra and Shammi Kapoor. The shooting began on May 2010 and the film is scheduled to release by mid-2011. The shooting took place at locations across Delhi including, Kotla Mubarakpur, Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah, Greater Kailash, IGI airport and Connaught Place, and three-day schedule at the St. Stephen’s College, followed by one at the Hindu College, director Imtiaz Ali’s alma mater, during the winter break of these colleges.

 

Fakhri was born in New York Her father was Pakistani and her mother Czechoslovakian.

Breathtaking Baisaran & Lake Tulian (Tulyan) in Pahalgam

Baisaran and Tulian Lake
5 kms from Pahalgam is a lush meadow surrounded by hills and covered with dense vegetation. This region looks very similar to European resorts and is a good campsite.
There even have been Bollywood movies shot in Basisaran, the Kumar Gaurav starrer ‘Love Story’ 1891 ) comes to mind whose song ‘Phulon Ke Shehar me hai ghar apna’ was shot in Baisaran.
Pine forests dot this meadow which presents a picturesque view of the snow-clad mountains.
11 kms up a trek from Baisaran is Tulian or Tulyan lake – the make is mostly snow covered – other than summers – and is at an altitude of 3353m.
In recent years, there is now even a forest road to Baisaran and in summer months you could try and drive up there.

Forest Road to Baisaran
Forest Road to Baisaran
Beware that there are portions on the forest road where you may encounter a stream or two, with small boulders, and even some steep curves – so take your car on your own peril. The forest road ‘officially’ may be out of bounds for tourists – but don’t sweat over it, and just give it a try. Once you get there, you will even see some place for parking.
The drive to Baisaran can be rocky
The drive to Baisaran can be rocky

View of Pahalgam from the forest road to Baisaran
View of Pahalgam from the forest road to Baisaran

But when you are in Pahalgam, why would you even take your car up there? Usually people would make a day trip to Baisaran on pony, or just trek up there. Its one of the easiest and family friendly treks. Once in Baisaran, you can expect to find a stall or two selling snacks and soft drinks. There may even be an Indian army camp near by.
Trek up to Tulian could be another matter. Its challenging – some of the heights are tough, and there is no trek really laid out. Tulian could be covered in one day if you leave Pahalgam at dawn, and trek briskly, or just go on a pony. Or you could plan an overnight trek. Unless you have a very good sense of direction on hills and passes, its advisable to take experienced guide or go with local poly wallahs.
tulian-tulyan-lake-pahalgam-kashmir
This video (courtesy Ajay Verma) shows a breakthtaking visual story of the trek to Tulian Lake. When you trek in Pahalgam area, don’t be surprised to meet a Gujjar or Bakarwal family in the middle of nowhere. And even more, you will be welcome as their guests over a cup of tea (as seen in the video), or can ask them about the area.

Winter Snow festival in Pahalgam

As Pahalgam was freezing with the mercury plunging to settle at minus 7.4 degrees Celsius, the two day Pahalgam Snow festival commenced on Jan 30, 2011 marked by organization of various winter sports and a cultural program. These included bhand pather, dhambali besides skiing, snow sledging, horse race. On the occasion officials and the heads of local traders’ bodies hailed the efforts of Tourism department to promote Pahalgam. Besides participants of winter sports, a large number of people and tourists were present on the occasion.

Snow-Festival-Pahalgam-Jan-2011
Snow-Festival-Pahalgam-Jan-2011

This was the first winter sports festival to be organized in Pahalgam, and per the officials, this would be an on going annual feature. Tourism department is also organizing a Spring festival at Pahalgam.
Snow-Festival-Pahalgam-Jan-2011-inauguration
Government is planning to develop Pahalgam as a world-class winter tourist destination and reportedly also introducing heli-skiing and ice-skating in a big way. Ultimately if tourists and skiers accept Pahalgam as a significant ski and snow sport destination would depend on efforts made by the private tourism operators in introducing pragmatic facilities and visitor plans.

Mountaineering institute to aid in Cave Climb

Srinagar: In the wake of several accidents on a slippery stretch en route the Amarnath cave shrine, the Jammu and Kashmir governor today deputed an eight-member team of mountaineering experts to assist the movement of pilgrims.
The team from the Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering, Pahalgam was deputed in addition to the 20 state police personnel comprising two mobile rescue teams which have already been deployed to assist the pilgrims between Sheshnag and Poshpathri along the traditional Pahalgam route.
The team was deputed after reports of several accidents on the difficult 5km stretch between Sangam Top and the shrine, which becomes extremely slippery when the snows start melting.
Sangam is a point en route to the 3,880m cave shrine where the pilgrims from both the traditional 46km Pahalgam route in Anantnag district and shortest 16km Baltal in Ganderbal district meet.
The annual two-month Amarnath yatra commenced from both the routes on July 1 and so far 1,41,232 pilgrims have paid obeisance at the shrine. PTI.

Helicopter Service for Amarnath Yatra

A yatra – the pilgrimage –  via a copter is no Yatra. Sure.

Having said that, people still want to do darshan at Shri Amarnath Ji – and some are too frail, while some have no time, while some just have that extra capacity to afford. So doing the yatra using a Copter for a big leg of the journey is increasingly becoming popular.

One could argue that using a pitthoo or doing the Yatra on horseback in no better than the helicopter. Perhaps yes, ethically speaking, but on the pony back you still have to endure the pony ride itself (which is tough on the body in its own right) – while a helicopter ride over the mighty beautiful Himalayas is plain fun and bliss!

Anyhow, since the service is becoming popular, here is how to book it:

Pawan Hans – Shri Amarnath Ji Booking website is here:
https://booking.pawanhans.co.in/web/ta/home.aspx
Or Contact Numbers:
011-24651248, 24690924,
09868906223, 09968686822,
09968686811, 09419169875-76-77

From Pahalgam to Amarnath Ji, contact
http://www.globalhelicorp.com/
globalhelicorp@gvhl.net
+91-11-46433300

Maximum 5 per charter 0 the GVHL one flies over the traditional route. Can also contact at yatra@gvhl.net

Its cold in Pahalgam – with power shortage

May 28th kind of broke the records -when the plains were hot hot at 45 Degrees, it was actually snowing in Pahalgam! Prior to this, the last know day in May when it actually snowed in Pahalgam was May 12th.

Before you visit Pahalgam, plan your trip by checking the weather forecast here.

However, with tourists thronging Kashmir to escape the heat wave in plains of India, the fall in temperature at Pahalgam ended up giving a tough time to visitors. Tourists complained of non-availability of power supply as the town remained mostly under darkness for past many days. Continuous rain has also limited people’s movement.

Around 12000 tourists are presently at Pahalgam and most of them are complaining of poor infrastructure including lack of power during nights. The incessant rains have added to their woes as most of the hotels and huts are devoid of heating system. Use of generators during the night helps, but then created a noise problem.

Some bright sun during the days is beginning to help – however the temperatures remain particularly low.

If you can’t happen to take the cold, you may also want to try out using a Kangri with a shawl or phiran. The Kangri is the earthen pot that is filled with smoldering charcoal and ashes on top, and kept under a shawl that then provides a small amount of continuous warmth. This is what the locals use to beat the cold in the worst of times. Beware however, it can be serious fire hazard if you are not careful, or happen to doze off!

Pony and labourer rates for Amarnath Yatra

Following are the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board approved rates:
(All Rates in Rupees for 2010):
I Riding/Pack Pony
– Chandanwari to Holy Cave and back 2782.5
– Baltal to Holy Cave and back 1800

II Dandy
– Chandanwari to Holy Cave and back 10500
– Baltal to Holy Cave and back 6000

III Labourer
Chandanwari to Holy Cave and back 1365
Baltal to Holy Cave and back 1000

IV Labourer with Pithoo
Chandanwari to Holy Cave and back 1470

Helicopter services for the Yatris would be available on each of the two routes viz. Baltal – Panjtarni – Baltal and Pahalgam – Panjtarni- Pahalgam. The one way heli-fare for Baltal- Panjtarni and Pahalgam-Panjtarni has been fixed at Rs. 2425/- and Rs. 3800/-, respectively. Children, between the age of 2-12 years, will be required to pay half the prices.

2010 Amarnath Yatra Registration

  • Registration to Start June 8
  • e-registration is unlikely this time
  • Registration slips in seven colors, separate colors for all seven days of the week
  • registration will last about 76 days
  • pilgrims taking aerial route will have to trek seven kms
  • First batch of the yatris is scheduled to have darshan on July 1 from both the tracks
  • Last darshan will be performed on August 24

123 branches of Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited (JKBL) will start registration of Shri Amarnath ji shrine pilgrims, tentatively from June 8 to 10 all over the country. The registration process will last 76 days during which a maximum number of 4.10 lakh pilgrims will be registered for annual Amarnath Yatra. Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), like the previous year, has entered into an agreement with Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited (JKBL) for registration of 4.10 lakh pilgrims-2.5 lakh each from Baltal and Pahalgam tracks.

The agreement has been finalised and the process of registration will begin most likely from June 8 or latest by June 10.The registration will continue up to August 22 for Pahalgam (Chandanwari) route and up to August 23 for shorter Baltal track. Annual pilgrimage to Shri Amarnath ji shrine is scheduled to begin from July 1 and will conclude on August 24 coinciding with Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan. The yatra will last 55 days.

Highest number of 26 J&K Bank branches will register the yatris in New Delhi. Fourteen branches have been designated for registration in Mumbai and 13 in Jammu and Kashmir. Seventy branches will offer registration to pilgrims in rest of the country including Chandigarh zone, Chennai, Lucknow, Ahmedabad etc. 5000 pilgrims will be registered every day by the J&K Bank branches including 2500 each for the two tracks-Baltal and Pahalgam. As the registration will last about 76 days, the Bank will register a maximum of 4.10 lakh pilgrims. Depending upon rush for the pilgrims in some zones, more yatris can be registered on some days to complete the quota of 4.10 lakh. The Bank has printed 4 lakh tickets but could add 10,000 more, if the situation warranted.

To ensure that the pilgrims registered for a particular day undertake journey on the scheduled date, the Bank has this time published registration slips in seven colors, separate colors for all seven days of the week. On Monday, white color slips will be issued for Pahalgam route and craft paper for Baltal track. On Tuesday, it will be red color for Pahalgam and white for Baltal while on Wednesday the pilgrims will get ground orange slips for Pahalgam and red for Baltal route.

Colors will be changed to yellow for Pahalgam and ground orange for Baltal on Thursday while it will be green for Pahalgam and yellow for Baltal on Friday, blue for Pahalgam and green for Baltal on Saturday and craft paper for Pahalgam and blue for Baltal on Sunday.The color slips will help the security and police personnel on duty to ensure that only the registered pilgrims and that too of the same date undertook journey to have darshan of holy Ice Lingam of Lord Shiva. The J&K Bank will notify its branches designated for the pilgrims through advertisements in newspapers nation wide to ensure that the aspirants could get to know of their nearest branch for registration.

The e-registration is unlikely this time, sources said, adding the decision to do away registration, sitting at home, might have been taken as a security measure. Last year, a number of pilgrims had registered themselves via internet. First batch of the yatris is scheduled to have darshan of holy Ice Lingam of Lord Shiva on July 1 from both the tracks. Last darshan will be performed on August 24 on the occasion of Shravan Purnima. As reported, the administration has decided to make tight security arrangements, almost at par with last year, for the yatra. IGP Kashmir Farooq Ahmed and IGP Jammu Ashok Gupta will supervise security arrangements in their respective zones. The deployment of para-military personnel will start from June 15 and it will be completed well ahead of scheduled date of start of yatra.The State has requisitioned nearly 75 additional companies of para-military from the Centre which were expected to start reaching here before June 15. Rest of the security will be met through internal resources including para-military deployed in less sensitive areas and local police.The SASB has already decided that air services for this year’s yatra will be operated from Baltal as well as Pahalgam but only up to Panjtarni, which means that the pilgrims taking aerial route will have to trek seven kms to reach the holy cave shrine.

River Rafting in Pahalgam – 2010 Status Update

For the story on this topic from previous years and the issues involved, see here.
Rafting started in Pahalgam from April 1 onwards. There are 12 companies or agencies providing the service – so the visits should see some healthy competition working in their favor.
For the ride in the meandering waters, the starting point is Yaner, some 5 kilometers before Pahalgam. There is unfortunately no structures set up so far and people have to arrange their own means of getting to Yaner. Which could be a great opportunity for Sumo or taxi operators. Or may be slowly the rafting companies would start providing this service to take back to and fro from the rafting site.
The president of Rafting Owners Association is Muhammad Ibrahim.

Amusement park to be shifted from Pahalgam?

From a news item appearing in Greater Kashmir, it looks like the amusement park may be shifted from Pahalgam. While there could be a long list of reasons that why the park needs to there, to why it was put in the first place, most “amusing” are the reasons being cited for moving the park. Dyes flowing from the amusement park into Lidder?? Give me a break – its a park, not a pigment and dye chemicals factory!
Yes its an eye sore, yes its artificial; no, its now very much a part of Pahalgam and a good way of spending a day. It provides a means of entertainment to people who come in looking for an activity to do, who need an agenda beyond local sight seeing.
The news items below from Mr. Khalid Gul aptly covers people’s view on the topic.

It might as well be left there, now that it is there….

GK – Pahalgam, Apr 17, 2010: The government is understood to have given its green signal to the proposal of shifting the amusement park at Pahalgam to some other location which will cost more than Rs 5 crore.
The amusement park was established by the Jammu and Kashmir Bank at a cost of Rs 3 crores on 48 kanal land in the midst of dense pine forests. The park generates an income of Rs 60 lakh per annum. Now, shifting of the park to other location would cost the JK Bank some Rs 5 crore, sources said.
They said that the proposal has been approved by the Chief Minister and the amusement park would be shifted to the outskirts of the tourist resort, most probably to nearby Yaner, or Aishmuqam, 17 kilometres from Pahalgam.
Initially, establishment of the amusement park in 2003 had attracted criticism from environmentalists who were of the view that a pristine mountain resort had been spoiled.
One of the biggest concerns of ecological activists was that the dyes from an artificial stream that run into the amusement park’s pool were emptying into Lidder River. Besides, they were of the view that the park was not blending with the scenic beauty of this resort and would definitely pollute this place.
“People come here to enjoy natural beauty and not to get distracted by man-made machines. I don’t know from where the idea to set up this park came,” said an environmentalist, who claimed that even the Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA) was not consulted on the project.
Now the government’s plan of shifting the park is seen as a welcome move. They even suggested some urban area like Islamabad town as the new destination.
Environmentalist Dr Mubashir Jeelani said, “I am not aware about the pouring of dyes into the Lidder River and its quantity. If the quantity is low then due to its dilution effect it would not have any effect but if the quantity is large then the carcinogenic elements present in them would definitely destroy the flora and fauna and also render the water unfit for drinking.”
He suggested collecting these dyes in drums and scientific disposal of other waste products.
Pertinently, the State Pollution Control Board had then directed the government to set an effluent treatment plant in the park to deal with the waste products and also called for more trees to be planted to make the park blend better with the surroundings. Though trees were planted but the effluent treatment plant was never set up.
“I will be soon seeking the status report of the amusement park and see if they are following all the guidelines,” said S Farooq Gillani, Regional Director, Kashmir, State Pollution Control Board.
Despite environmentalists’ concerns, the project has been embraced by common Kashmiris longing for some entertainment. The locals also welcomed the move but now the proposal of shifting the park has let them down and they term it as politically motivated rather than an attempt to save Pahalgam.
“If they are so concerned about the beauty of Pahalgam then they should first stop the construction of illegal huts and hotels and also stop the pouring of waste into the Lidder by big hotels and restaurants,” said a local resident, Mushtaq Ahmad, adding that the step was aimed to benefit the cohorts of some local politicians.
“Aishmuqam and Yaner where the government is planning to shift the park are in no way urban areas. Lidder River passes from these two places too and would disturb the environs there too,” he said, adding that the J&K Bank had planted many trees around the area and is taking care of the wastes scientifically.

Travelogue – Starting for Amarnath Yatra from Pahalgam

Amarnath Yatra
Date: June 21, 2006 -> Tata Sumo is the vehicle of choice for going from Pahalgam to Chandanwari. The cost is Rs600 for the entire vehicle one way, or one could take a seat on a per seat basis (negotiable). For Amarnath Yatra, the vehicles line up at the security checkpoint at Laripora village (2km from Pahalgam towards Chandanwari) where they are allowed to go ahead at a certain time early in the morning (between 6:00 AM and 7:00 AM). (Check for the latest arrangements on this account)

Local commuter mini-bus service is also available, but is generally used only by the locals.
The vehicles are reserved in advance from Pahalgam Taxi Stand. There are more than a hundred of such Sumo Taxis available, and most are generally busy during the yatra period, so booking in advance is highly recommended. The taxis make five to six trips to Chandanwari everyday during the Yatra period.

The road from Pahalgam to Chandanwari has been notoriously bad for all these years – in fact there hardly has been any road. But in March 2006 the entire stretch has been laid well with good quality macadamized road, though its still one lane. But most of the drivers are very well versed with each and every curve and turn on the 12 odd km stretch. The steep curves and the high speeds can make the ride very exciting, but spend your time looking outside at the meandering river Lidder flowing below with gushing waters and steep drops. And don’t miss the view of the mouth of the lidder valley as you leave it behind when you take the height; and the many water falls you see on the way.
road-to-chandanwari Only in five miles you will see on your right a widening of the valley as the Lidder calms down over a flat land. Localites fondly remember the location for the “shooting” of the famous hindi movie Betaab. This was the place where the farmhouse that was the centerpiece of the movie, was set up. As you drive up, you will see directions to Shiv Temple Cave, at Shivmarg. This is not a well known temple, apparently having come there in past few years. Try to stop by and take a look if you can; but the taxi Sumos would not.
The taxi stand is one and a half km short of Chandanwari snow bridge. Expect to be encountered by a horde of “ghorewalas”. Now if you have not already arranged for a pony (or a horse, however you would like to call the animal), this is your “moment of truth”! Getting the right pony and the right pony-wallah is crucial to a good, well organized and safe yatra experience.
bettab-valley-chandanwari-pahalgam
There are three basic categories of ponies and pony-wallahs.
The first category are the ponies and ponywallahs that belong to Pahalgam and surrounding areas. These are experienced ponies and experienced guides who have traversed the yatra route multiple times – even the ponies understand the route.

The second broad category is the gujjars who jump into the fray to make some money during yatra days. Their ponies are actually “ponies” – smaller built and also not too familiar with the route peculiarities. They may come at a slightly lower rate, but the gujjars lack professionalism – and that, like in any other service profession, has its own value. Professionalism means that the guy keeps an eye on the rider all the time, it means when to hold the horse or the rider during a steep climb down, it means to be not only timely with lunch breaks, but to be able to guide and suggest as to how much time is good for a break, etc.

The third type is the ponies and their owners who come all the way from Katra (in Jammu) specifically for Amarnath Yatra. Of course, their knowledge of local terrain, language and experience is limited.

By one account there are just 1,200 ponies which actually belong to the Pahalgam area, out of a total of about 10,000 that may be active on the route on a yatra day.

The ponies themselves are a stretched lot: not very long ago, the ponies were awarded a day of rest after every two or three days of labor, which means a day off for rest after every trip to Amarnath. But not any more. They work continuously for ten days and even more before they are rewarded with a day of rest.

Construction of high-rise buildings in Pahalgam

News organization ANI has recently reported a new controversy around construction of high rise buildings in Pahalgam. Classic case of pitting development against preservation of natural environments. A question which becomes out of ordinary in case of a hill resort like Pahalgam where natural environment is what all the play is about.
Here’s the news item:

Pahalgam (J-K), Dec 20 (ANI): Construction work of high-rise buildings is in full swing in Jammu and Kasmir’s Pahalgam region despite the authorities imposing a ban on such activities.

Sensing the adverse effects of the pristine area turning into a concrete jungle, the concerned authorities of Pahalgam had declared an embargo on any new constructions here.

However, despite the ban, the construction work hasn’t stopped and work is in progress at a good number of commercial and residential projects.

Upset at these trends, the locals apprehend that soon the natural beauty of Pahalgam will be eclipsed and it may be no different from other metropolitan cities.

‘The natural beauty is getting destroyed. The Pahalgam we are seeing today is completely different from the Pahalgam, which used to be 20 years ago. Today the region is becoming like any metropolitan city. We have no clue that who is behind all these construction activities. Such infrastructural changes might prove harmful for our coming generations,’ said Manzoor, a resident.

On their part, the officials claim that they are doing their best to stop the encroachments and illegal constructions in the region.

‘We will not allow any kind of dozers in Pahalgam whether they are contractors of government or of any private companies. We will not allow dozers till PDA (Pahalgam Development Authority) permits so that non stop operations can be avoided,’ said Abdul Wahid Tak, Executive Officer, Pahalgam Development Authority.

Despite repeated recommendations by the departments of Tourism as well as Ecology and Environment for imposing a five-year moratorium on building activity in the commercial sector in Pahalgam, concrete structures continue to rise at a fast pace.

Movie ‘Sikandar’ shot in Pahalgam

Filmmakers have once again started rolling their cameras and the valley is filled with the voices of ‘cut’ and ‘action’ now that the film industry has resumed its romance with Kashmir.

The land of breathtaking beauty with its snowcapped mountains, majestic Chinar trees and the beautiful Dal Lake, Kashmir was Bollywood’s favourite setting for romances like “Do Badan”, “Kashmir Ki Kali”, “Jab Jab Phool Khile”, “Aarzoo”, “Kabhi Kabhi” and “Bobby”.

But it is not the mere beauty of the place that is luring the filmmakers back to the region after a gap of two decades. They want to depict its troubled past and the aspirations of the young generation, making Kashmir their latest muse.

Movies like “Yahaan”, “Shaurya”, “Tahaan”, recently released “Sikander” and national-award winning filmmaker Rahul Dholakia’s upcoming “Lamhaa” indicate that filmmakers are looking towards Kashmir with a renewed interest.

“Kashmir is a beautiful place and no one can dispute that but I think there is more to the place than its beauty only. Kashmir has a history and it is time that it reflected in our cinema,” Dholakia, who has directed “Lamhaa” told PTI.

The film, starring Sanjay Dutt and Bipasha Basu, is a love story set in Kashmir and the director hopes that he will be able to dispel some of the stereotypes attached to the region and its people.

The ‘Parzania’ director, who had a tough time shooting the movie in Kashmir after protests by local people, had extensively researched about Kashmir before making it the setting of his film.

“It is a great place and people are nice. Yes, there were certain problems but I would love to shoot there again,” said Dholakia.

Bipasha, who plays the role of a Kashmiri woman in the movie, believes that the film can not be branded as an “art” movie just because it is about Kashmir.

“It is commercial film it can not be branded as an art film. It is the story of Kashmiri people, their problems and their challenges and my role is very dear to me,” she said.

Director Piyush Jha, who shot ‘Sikandar’ in Kashmir’s Pahalgam, Uri and Anantnag areas, said, “I set the story in Kashmir because of the visual metaphor. I strived to contrast the beauty of ‘Mother Nature’ against the cruelty of human nature. The film deals with the universal manipulation of adolescence by the nasty games played by adults.”

“Sikander” depicted the struggle of a 14-year-old boy who dreams of becoming a football player but his life takes a nasty turns when he stumbles upon a gun.

Starring Parzan Dastur, Ayesha Kapoor, Sanjay Suri and R Madhavan, the film depicted the tale of lost childhood and innocence in the shadow of violence.

Actor Sanjay Suri, a native of Kashmir, who visited the place after a gap of 18 years while shooting for the movie, believes that Bollywood is yet to come out with a story about the valley.

“The kind of films that are being shot today should have been made 15 years back. I don’t think Kashmir problem has been explored properly in Bollywood. There have been so many movies on Gujarat riots but there is not a single movie which explores about what happened in Kashmir during the militancy.

“A lot has happened in the last 20 years, the place is still beautiful but the colour has gone,” Suri said.

In the past few years, films like “Mission Kashmir” (2000), “Yahaan” (2005) and Santosh Sivan’s “Tahaan” (2008) have tried to portray the problems faced by the Kashmiris.

Sivan, a celebrated cinematographer, who had captured Kashmir in Mani Ratnam’s “Roja” in 1992, returned to the valley as a director to shoot his fabled story about a young boy and his struggle to reunite with his beloved donkey.

The film tried to look at some of the serious issues plaguing Kashmir through the eyes of an 11-year-old child, whose life seems normal on the surface but is not devoid of the bitter realities of his birthplace.

Actor R Madhavan, who played a kind-hearted army officer posted in Kashmir in “Sikander”, feels that Kashmir should not be looked upon as unsafe anymore.

“They (Kashmiri people) are yearning for normalcy which is sad because the common man is not a militant and it doesn’t matter to him who is ruling. He wants to live life, earn his livelihood and make sure his future generation is safe and sound,” the actor said.

Source: MyNews Network

Efforts on to promote winter sports, adventure tourism in Pahalgam

News Agency of Kashmir 8/27/2009 5:33:41 PM

Srinagar, Aug 27(NAK): Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, Nasir Aslam Wani replying to question of Altaf Ahmed Wani in Legislative Council said that the Department is putting its best efforts for promotion of winter sports and adventure tourism in Pahalgam. Various activities and festivals are being organized to boost the winter sports and adventure tourism in the area adding that the Department conducted Spring Festival at Pahalgam for promotion of adventure sports in Pahalgam, Para gliding was introduced during the festival besides trekking and rafting.

He said that the Commercial White Water Rafting has been introduced in a big way by involving local un-employed youth to start their ventures. This year permission for such activities has been give to 12 registered agencies to facilitate the Rafting for the enthusiastic tourists. In order to promote the sport of Rafting in Pahalgam, 2nd State Rafting Rally was organized this year by the Department. Six local Rafting teams participated in rally.

Trekking equipment like sleeping bags, tents, ruck sacks etc. are being provided to local youth and tourists on nominal charges to undertake various trekking programmes. Trekking equipment Hire shop is likely to be established at Pahalgam for benefit of trekkers.  Last year , it was proposed to hold some ski courses at Aru/Pahalgam but due to inadequate snow fall these could not be held. However, during the forthcoming winter, it is proposed to conduct winter sports activities such as snow ski and ice skating at Pahalgam.

In addition to this Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports conducted various courses in adventure sports in summer as Basic and Advance Mountaineering, trekking, Rock climbing and adventure courses for youth.  The Institute a joint mountaineering expedition to Kolhoi with North East Adventure Foundation Gowhati, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police. The expedition was flagged off on 4th August 2009 with an aim to study how to control glacier recessing taking care of flora and fauna and to clean the environment around Lidderwat-Satlanjan-Kolhoi area.

An artificial Rock climbing is being planned in the vicinity of Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports at Nunwun, Pahalgam.  The Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports also intends to conduct winter packages in coming winter in Pahalgam subject to sufficient snow fall with the aim to carry out recee of the area for ski lifts in Baisaran and Aru, so that during coming years winter sports like skiing can be promoted in Pahalgam.

Visit Pahalgam for leisure, trekking, rafting, golf, skiing, hiking, photography and relaxation in picturesque Himalayas