Srinagar, May 6: Beginning of the adventure tourism activities at Tee Pee woods in the lap of Bungus valley in northern district of Kupwara is igniting hopes among the local populace. Drangyari village in Bungus Valley, a no go zone two years back, is seeing a new dawn with people welcoming tourists.
In a rare development for their economic upliftment, the locals have set up 12 homestay rooms to facilitate visitors. This all has been possible only because of the complete ceasefire that has been prevailing on the borders since the past two years in the wake of the ceasefire agreement between the India and Pakistani armies.
Drangyari village situated at a distance of 140 kms from Srinagar in north Kashmir’s frontier district Kupwara. In the lap of higher ranges of the Shamsbari mountains close to the Line of Control (LoC) a strategically important place.
As the situation close to the Line of Control (LoC) continues to show significant improvement, authorities in the Kashmir valley encourage and promote border adventure tourism. Allowing the movement of locals and tourists to such virgin destinations.
An official said that for the very first time, a project at a cost of nearly Rs 2 crore has been finalized at Drangyari in the lap of Bungus Valley. “The place will offer several adventure tourism activities. The project includes Zipline, Suspension Bridge, ATVs, Snowmobiles, Paddle Porting, Paddle Boats, Ice Skating, and Skiing,” he said.
For this particular project, the official said that the local unemployed youth have been roped in by authorities to help them earn a living and boost the tourism potential of virgin places like Drangyari, Bungus.
Drangyari, earlier a no-go zone, he said will now be hosting both domestic and international tourists.
The official also said that apart from Pahalgam,Sonmarg and Gulmarg this is the first of its kind initiative in Kashmir valley that too in a border area that used to witness frequent ceasefire violations two years back.
The government official said plans to offer a host of activities to visitors which also include Adventure Parks, Zip Cycling, Play Stations, Kids’ Play Stations, and more Ropeway Activities in times to come.
The introduction of adventure tourism activities is proving to be pivotal for the local population to earn a living.
Sameer Khan, 16, a 10th standard dropout student who claimed to be working as a laborer to feed his family stated that his village being snow locked for nearly 6 months would force him to move to Srinagar, Punjab and other places for labour.
“Tourism activities with increasing footfall of tourists is setting the window of opportunities open for them,” Khan said. “This remote village having at least 50 families there mainly labourers, masons and carpenters are thrilled to be introduce to tourism activities.”
Khan said that youth who have left their education halfway including him, given their family conditions and lesser hopes, are taking up the tourism work leaving their years of work as labourers behind.
“We used to go to different parts of the valley and in different states of the country for labour,” he said.
He said that this year with the opening of adventure tourism activities he has been employed with the Zip Line and is earning a good amount to meet the necessities of his family.
Toufeeq Ahmad, 18, another worker who is also a 10th dropout said that he has been working as a laborer for the last several years. He stated that he along with other native friends would go out of the district for labour during winter. Expressing his happiness, Toufeeq said that he is employed with the tourism activities this year locally. “We are really happy with the arrival of tourists to our area. It will definitely open an ample number of opportunities for us here, change our status for sure. We hope that the situation remains conducive for tourism activities. We expect that the borders remain calm this year also so that our expectations continue to rise,” he said.
Valleys’ premier tourism players believe that this place alone can attract more tourist footfall compared to tourist places like Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Sonmarg. They are of the view that both domestic and international tourists prefer offbeat destinations and there can’t be any comparison to Bungus- Drangyari.
It is believed that this window of tourism will help this border district to avail ample opportunities to set up different employment opportunities.
Notably, last year the authorities pitched night camping tents at Bungus to allow the visitors towards Bungus valley for the very time. This move will further help to develop the tourism potential of the entire district.
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