Srinagar: The Kashmir Valley was reeling under huge rush of tourists before devastating floods last month shattered everything.
The sightseers left in hordes. Many of them were rescued by the Indian army. In fact, hundreds of them were taken in special planes to native places in Mumbai, New Delhi and West Bengal when thousands of Kashmiris were still trapped in flood waters especially in Bemina, Rajbagh and Jawhar Nagar, the worst flood-hit areas in this summer capital of the state.
It has been little over a month since then and some semblance of normalcy has returned. With the calm, tourists too have started to “soak up the famed tranquility of Srinagar.”
“We arrived in Srinagar only on Saturday and visited Dal Lake today. Everything was just normal and okay,” said Morishi Dass, one of the members of a group from West Bengal.
“We had planned this tour before floods hit the Valley and our relativesinsisted not to visit there as situation was not conducive,” Supriti Dass, another group member said.
“All of them kept on insisting to cancel the tour and some frightened so much that it was impossible to visit Kashmir even in next three years. We were told that everything picturesque there has been lost to floods”.
However, she said, they decided to go ahead as planned “with a belief that we will get whatever was there in our destiny.”
“We visited Dal Lake and were fully mesmerized by it. To be honest, there was no feeling that everything is lost, not even remotely,” she said and expressed hope that “our entire tour will be successful.”
Following the floods in the first week of last month, not only thousands of tourists fled the Valley, lakhs of them cancelled their bookings especially for the fear of epidemic.
However, for the group from West Bengal, the apprehension about post-flood diseases is a least worry.
“There are very minimal chances about epidemic like situation in wintry conditions as are prevailing contemporarily in the Valley,” Pruneet, another group members said when asked the about apprehensions of epidemic post floods.
Nasir Ahmad Mir, chairman Association of Kashmir Tour Operators said some initiative were underway to reassure tourists that “everything is not lost” in flood-ravaged Valley—described by many as paradise on globe.
“We have taken initiative on our own and are paying visits to various states of India especially West Bengal to attract tourists to Valley,” he said.
A wrong message, he said, has gone outside that Kashmir will not be on track in two or three years.
“It is not the case. Tourists have started to come and hopefully thousands others will follow the suit.”