Long duration of Amarnath Yatra is anyways creating tourism related disruptions in Pahalgam as many casual toursits shy away from the place during those weeks. Now come the sudden step of Amarnath Shrine Board constructing pre-fabricated huts at Nunwan, on the outskirts of Pahalgam. Long term this could start effecting the center of gravity of toursist economy of Pahalgam to outside of Pahalgam, towards Nunwan. While constructing lavatories could make sense if SASB persists with keeping Amarnath yatris out of Pahalgam in a secluded (and perhaps secure) Yatri Camp at Nunwan, the whole idea really needs to be abandoned so that people coming to Amarnath Yatra from all over the country can visit the hill station as normal tourists and enjoy the beauty of it. Of course with it would come the issues of ecological degradation of Pahalgam valley by activities of Yatris, but thats a different problem, and SASB or other wise men can surely arrive at solutions to it. Anyhow, this is a release from KHAROF, typically harsh in wordings, but nevertheless in the right direction. Its from the Gk News network.
Srinagar, May 19: The Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF) on Monday said the construction activities carried out by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) at Pahalgam are bound to damage the environment and ecology of the resort besides hurt the public sentiments.
Acting on the news reports carried by this newspaper about Pahalgam, a KHAROF spokesman said the Federation members unanimously condemned “this anti-environmental, anti-ecological and anti-Pahalgam activities like construction of public lavatories, pre-fabricated huts on concrete plinths at Nunwan” by the SASB.
“The tourism fraternity of Kashmir appeals to the government not to allow such activities which are bound to wipe out Pahalgam from the tourist map of the world,” a spokesman said in a statement. “And if the government fails to act immediately then the notion that the SASB is by itself a power centre—a state within itself—stand confirmed.”
The spokesman said the tourism in Kashmir was bread and butter to a large populace, and Pahalgam being a famed tourist destination needs be preserved at any cost. “If such actions are not stopped, it would force us to go to any extent to save the place from human-inflicted injuries like massive constructions,” he said.
The Federation also demanded that the Yatra period be restricted to 10 days as per the past practice. “Stretching the Yatra to two and a half months is degrading Pahalgam and its neighborhood environmentally and vandalizing it ecologically,” the spokesman added. “We humbly ask the powers that be to get up and save Pahalgam.”
“It is ironical that few days back the Pahalgam Development Authority declared usage of rubber boats for rafting as an environmental hazard but at the same time it allows vandalism of Pahalgam.”
Pahalgam is the starting point of some of the best that trekking can offer in the Himalayas. Trekking to Kolahai Glacier is a dream come true – and their are potential treks to across the ranges to Sonamarg and even Ladakh for the brave. Besides, there are many day treks originating in Pahalgam for the novices, like hiking to Basisaran or to Chunasar and Mansar lakes, or not to forget to Sheshnag or all the way to Amarnath Cave.
These trekking routes have been for all practical purposes closed to tourists and serious trekkers due to the security situation. Basically no one would venture. Well, all that seems to on verge of a massive change, going by this news item covered by Arif Shafi Vani of GreaterKashmir:
Srinagar, May 13: The breathtaking snow-clad mountains of Kashmir that were closed for the past 18 years for ‘security reasons’ would soon be thronged by foreign mountaineers and trekkers, if all goes well.
To attract tourists and promote adventure sports, the government has given green signal to the Tourism department to market the traditional trekking and mountaineering routes, including troops-dominated peaks of Sonamarg and Pahalgam.
The routes were unofficially closed with the onset of militancy in early 90s. The mountaineers, mostly foreigners, could not freely undertake trekking on routes like Kolahai, Tattakuti and Gangabal due to heavy presence of troops.
“The traditional mountaineering and trekking routes of the Valley will be opened for promoting the adventure sports, which is gaining popularity among the tourists. We have to keep on experimenting and offer something new to the tourists to attract them to Kashmir. Some famous peaks have the potential to make the Valley one of the best mountaineering destinations,” joint director Tourism, Sarmad Hafeez told Greater Kashmir.
Hafeez said a team from International Mountaineering Federation (IMF) recently made on the spot assessment of the Valley’s trekking and mountaineering destinations. Another team, Access and Conservation Commission visited trekking spots in famous tourist resort of Aru in Pahalgam.
“The team was highly impressed and promised to go for massive promotion of the routes. As a first step, the IMF has decided to celebrate its golden jubilee year in the Valley and 90 mountaineers from various countries are scheduled to participate in the event,” Hafeez said.
Officials said high-profile mountaineers and trekkers are scheduled to participate in the IMF celebrations, which includes trekking, here from May 15.
The Tourism department has set up tourist trekking hire shops on various peaks. “We are receiving inquiries from various countries about out preparedness to host their mountaineers. We are geared up to host any mountaineering event. The mountaineers, trekkers or tourists intending to trek the peaks will get all facilities, including the gear and equipments at nominal charges,” Hafeez said.
Rauf Tramboo, general secretary of the JK Ski and Mountaineering Association, said, “Heavy domination of peaks by troops scares trekkers and mountaineers. We have to seek permission from the Army to undertake trekking. Ironically, in most of the cases the request is rejected on trivial grounds and it discourages the trekkers. Government needs to look at this aspect.”
Tramboo said the travel advisories from different countries during past decade had also forced the trekkers to remain away from the Valley. “As Jammu and Ladakh were exempted from the advisories, it remained a hub for global trekkers. I hope that the magnificent mountains of the Valley would soon get its share of trekkers,” Tramboo said.
Carin Fisher, a consultant on tourism to the state government said the restoration of trekking routes would boost inflow of tourists to the Valley.
“Kashmir has been projected as a trekking paradise. The initiative of the state Tourism department to restore trekking is timely in view of the similar facilities in neighboring states. But there is dire need to market it,” Fisher said.