Shopian: As the government has approved the plan to bring the Lahanthora peak in Shopian under the tourist map, the block development office is spending Rs 30 lakh on beautification of the site, with lights and viewpoints being established near the peak.
This mountain peak is 1500 feet high above the ground level and gives a 360° view of the entire Shopian district.
According to officials at the rural development department in Shopian, the stairs which lead to the peak have been counted as 1111, a symbolic number rich in Sufi meaning as the famous saint, Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani, is popular in the Muslim world by 11 different names.
Lahanthora is the lone and highest mountain peak in the centre of district Shopian in Arshipora area, some four kilometers to the southeast of district headquarters.
A year ago, a large playground was developed at its base after the authorities removed a low-lying part of the mountain. While the local youth called it a good initiative for sports, environmentalists complained that it was degradation of this mountain.
Zahid Azad, Block Development Officer Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that Rs 30 lakh are being spent on developing the mountain as a tourist site, and the work is being carried out under the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
“This will also help in providing jobs to the unemployed youth,” Azad said.
He said that there had long been demands from the people for development of the playground as well as tourist facilities. “Since the peak is in the centre of the district, it will have easy access and it will also help the local youth to run their business outlets including food item shops,” Azad said.
He added that it will be the first MGNREGA work in the whole of India where 1111 steps will be paved.
On the top of this peak, according to an official, a park on two kanals of land is being developed. “We are going to install lights on all the sides of this peak. After establishment of viewpoints, lights on them will also be installed. To reach the top, 1111 steps are being developed,” an official from the rural development department said.
According to official records, in 1964 the songs of a film directed by Shakti Samanta were shot on this peak, with local women also featuring in the scenes.
Giving details on its historical importance, officials said that in early times, Kani Mout, a Sufi saint, used to live on this peak when the area had no population and the peak was surrounded with dense pine forest.