Tourists throng hill stations to enjoy snowfall in Central Kashmir

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Photo Credit: Sheikh Anees

Ganderbal: Fresh snowfall in Gagengeir and surrounding hills attracted a large number of tourists from different parts of the country including local people. Although there were no vacations, but still a large number of people travelled to Kashmir to enjoy the snowfall. The upper reaches of the valley Wednesday experienced fresh spell of snowfall while rains lashed the plains, dipping the day temperature sharply.
Sonamarg, Gagangeir, Naranag and other high altitude areas in Central Kashmir received fresh spell of snowfall on the intervening night, while rains lashed the plains.

Traders, hotel owners and other workers were happy to see tourists here. They were, however, complaining about the prevailing mess in the form of vehicular traffic jams on the way to the hill stations mostly in Main  Chowk Ganderbal and Kangan due to which frequent traffic jams were witnessed. Locals blamed the local government, saying that road widening was to be completed before last year’s Amarnath Yatra but it is still incomplete.
Meanwhile, no tourist is allowed to go forward from Gagengeir to Sonamarg, officials told The Kashmir Pulse.

Photo Credit: Sheikh Anees

“With the improvement in weather conditions, scores of tourists are visiting this area but they become disappointed due to lack of facilities at the spot,” the vendors in the area said.
Gagangeer is a village eight kilometers ahead of the famous summer resort of Sonamarg on Srinagar-Leh National Highway.
“I am a graduate and due to unemployment in the valley I am working here in Gagangeer as a sledge runner and by the grace of Almighty I am earning good income for my family but there is need of attention from authorities”, a local sledge worker said.
The village is abuzz with heavy rush of tourists these days as the road leading to Sonamarg has been closed for all types of vehicular traffic by authorities due to the heavy snowfall and chances of landslides enroute.
Hundreds of tourists who come to visit Sonamarg have to return from Gagangeer due to the road closure. But according to the tourists, they are enjoying the beautiful locales of Gagangeer.
The locals are dependent on the tourism sector and have urged the government to develop the area and make it attractive.
“Our area, Sonamarg totally dependent on tourism season (during summers) and we remain idle during Winters. But from last couple of days thousands of tourists visited here and we had a sigh of relief as we offer them sledge and horse riding to earn handsome amount so as to sustain our family. However, lack of facilities is disappointing the visitors,” Aijaz Ahmad, a local sledge provider said.
Local youths as well as tourists who visit Gagangeer have just few words to comment after visiting this area that is “beautiful place to see in Winter but half life ends on travel due to the bad condition of roads”.
“Same is the case here in Naranag, an old temple view area a beautiful archologist view and Gangbal, one of the attractive trekking places in the world which has a potential but needs the attention of local people and government for making it a tourist place” a youth, Sheikh Anees said.
The ruined temples in Naranag are said to be among the oldest and a good learning step for archological students.
Meanwhile, Tehsildar Kangan told that they have started a drive to destroy all such structures which are becoming hindrances in National Highway 1 road. This will continue for a few more days. He also said that all of the land owners have already been paid the compensation barring a few who will be paid within a couple of days.

Beigh Irshad Beigh Irshad
Beigh Irshad is a Kashmir based freelance journalist
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