Kashmir is dotted with beautiful lakes, surrounded by magnificent valleys. The land is bestowed with nature’s bounty in terms of fruits and flowers. In winters the white blanket of snow adds to the beauty of Kashmir. The valley is the choice destination not just for tourists and travellers but also for film industries and sports activities. Travellers visit different tourist destinations and health resorts including Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Yousmarg, etc. Besides these beautiful destinations, Gurez is a great place to travel and enjoy the beauty of “Heaven on Earth” that is Kashmir.
Gurez is the most beautiful valley of Kashmir, 85 km from the Bandipora district headquarters. Gurez is located in the high Himalayas. Many a traveller has now started to visit Gurez to enjoy the pure natural beauty, but only in the summer season. Destinations other than Gurez, like Gulmarg and Pahalgam, witness a huge rush of tourists in winters also. The valley of Gurez-Tulail also has huge potential for winter tourism and winter sports. The snow here is as much as in Gulmarg but being unexplored and neglected, Gurez hasn’t developed enough in the tourism sector. Gurez is even neglected by travellers in summers. Those who visit Gurez complain about the lack of facilities for visitors. Many travellers complain about the poor road condition, lack of accommodation, poor mobile connectivity, a few hours of electricity supplied by diesel generators, etc.
However, Gurez is a most peaceful area and its people are known for their great hospitality. Gurez is as beautiful and appealing in the winters as it is in summers. A thick blanket of snow, gushing streams, snow-capped mountains, white-coated trees, beautiful white meadows make the valley look no less than Switzerland.
The local youth wish to promote winter tourism and winter sports. They themselves pass their time playing different games here. They organize cricket tournaments which are joined by nearby village teams. They manage everything on their own without any support from the local administration. This winter, the army held different games like road race, volleyball tournaments, carrom championships, and even skiing competitions, which shows the high potential for sports here.
If developed, Gurez-Tulail, the most beautiful valley of Kashmir, can play a crucial role in Kashmir’s tourism industry. Had there been a road tunnel at Razdan pass, and tourist huts in different villages, better local roads, better mobile connectivity, upgraded health care facilities, 24-hour electricity, etc, things would be much better. A Gurez Development Authority is needed to develop facilities for tourists round the year.
Keeping in view the great significance of tourism in the Kashmir economy, I expect the government and the Kashmir tourism department to upgrade and develop this unexplored, neglected, far-flung but very beautiful and attractive valley. Establish a Gurez Development Authority like in Sonamarg and Gulmarg. I am confident that this valley will be the number-one tourist attraction for travellers, local as well as national and international travellers. The valley will be the chosen destination in both summer and winter seasons.
The writer works for a national NGO and is also a social worker in Gurez-Tulail. [email protected]