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Updated December 25th, 2023 at 22:47 IST

From shelling to smiles: Kashmir's LoC witnesses a resurgence in tourism

Border areas of Kashmir, once synonymous with cross-LoC shelling, are now witnessing a flourishing tourism boom.

Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil
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From shelling to smiles: Kashmir's LoC witnesses a resurgence in tourism | Image:Facebook
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Border areas of Kashmir, once synonymous with cross-LoC shelling, are now witnessing a flourishing tourism boom.

As per the officials with the tourism department here, this year alone, 4.30 lakh tourists explored the enchanting landscapes of Keran, Lolab, Machil, Teetwal, Tangdhar, Gurez, Tulail and Uri.

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Previously marred by conflict, these areas now beckon visitors year-round, showcasing the picturesque valleys of Bangus, Keran, Lolab, Machil, Teetwal, Tangdhar, Gurez and Tulail

The ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) since February 2021 has been a catalyst for this positive shift. Residents express joy at the transformative impact, eagerly anticipating a continuous influx of tourists.

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The absence of gunfire has allowed residents to reclaim normalcy with weddings now hosted in homes rather than seeking safer venues. The contrast between past hardships and current positivity is visible on the ground.

"The ceasefire since February 2021 is a game-changer. The absence of gunfire has given us the freedom to resume normal life. Now, we celebrate weddings at home, a luxury we missed for years," said Rehana Begum of Chirundan village in Uri.

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Residents are optimistic about a peaceful situation along the LoC, citing the remarkable progress in the last three years. Travel restrictions at historic sites like 'Kaman Post' have been lifted, creating opportunities for border tourism.

"Uri, once a symbol of tension, now welcomes 70,000 tourists. The ceasefire has not just brought peace but unexpected prosperity. We're embracing a new chapter," said Riyaz Ahmed, a resident of Sultan Deki, Uri.

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Collaborative efforts by the Indian Army, district administrations, and the J&K tourism department include organizing events to put these areas on the tourism map.

While residents appreciate the progress, they emphasize the need for further infrastructure development.

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They express openness to government initiatives benefitting economically disadvantaged areas and highlight the cultural richness of their communities.

Recent developments include the electrification of Gurez Valley and the inauguration of 'Shinon Meeras', a cultural centre dedicated to the Dard-Shina tribes.

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It's India's first museum for Dardis and traces the journey of Shina culture, languages, and the Gurezi way of life. Pertinently, Lolab Valley was recognized as the best offbeat destination in 2023 by Outlook Traveler Magzine, which adds to the region's allure.

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Published December 25th, 2023 at 22:47 IST

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