Updated December 20th, 2023 at 15:55 IST
Meadow of Gold: Sonamarg glows with tourist boom, signalling positive change for Kashmir
Sonamarg is not merely relying on its natural beauty, it is actively diversifying its tourism offerings
Sonamarg, popularly known as ‘Meadow of Gold’ nestled in the Ganderbal district of central Kashmir, is capturing widespread attention by attracting a remarkable number of tourists this year.
Experiencing an unparalleled surge, the destination has welcomed nearly 700,000 visitors, including an impressive count of 7,022 international tourists, marking a positive shift for the region.
Foreign visitors, who once hesitated due to travel advisories, are now discovering the enchantment of Sonamarg, a transformation that speaks volumes about the improved situation in the Valley.
" I stand in awe before the majestic beauty of ’Thajiwas Glacier’ here in Sonamarg, It's not just a destination, it's an elevation of wonder, a frozen masterpiece that leaves you breathless in both altitude and admiration,” says Emily, a tourist from Germany.
Domestic tourists are equally captivated, expressing their awe at the snow-clad mountains and breath-taking views that Sonamarg offers.
"I never thought such a picturesque destination existed within our country. Sonamarg has exceeded my expectations," says Ravi Singh, a tourist from Mumbai.
Local businesses and hospitality services are reaping the benefits of this tourist influx. Accommodations, guided tours and unique local experiences are in high demand, creating a ripple effect in various sectors and contributing significantly to the overall economic development of the Kashmir valley.
"The surge in tourism has provided a much-needed boost to our business. We are expanding our offerings to cater to the diverse interests of our visitors," says Amin Bhat, a local guesthouse owner.
Sonamarg is not merely relying on its natural beauty, it is actively diversifying its tourism offerings. Visitors can now indulge in guided tours, cultural interactions and explore the rich heritage.
"The guided tour made my visit even more special. Learning about the local culture, cuisine and history added a whole new dimension to my experience," said Ritu Khanna, a tourist from Dubai.
Pony-walas, who offer rides through the stunning landscapes, are finding a surge in business as tourists seek a unique way to explore the meadows.
"Riding a pony through the snow-clad mountains of Sonamarg is an experience like no other. It’s amazing to see the joy on the faces of our customers," says Ali Mohammad, a pony wala.
One of the highlights of Sonamarg is its crystal-clear water, adding an extra layer of beauty to an already picturesque destination.
"I've never seen water so cold, clear and pristine. It feels like I’m in a dream," said Rayan, a tourist from Malaysia.
Sonamarg's success as a tourist destination is not just about numbers. As the ‘Meadow of Gold’ continues to shine, the future looks promising for both its people and the travellers who seek solace in its beauty said Secretary Tourism & Culture department Syed Abid Shah.
Published December 20th, 2023 at 15:55 IST