Umaisar Gull Ganie
Kulgam, Sep 15: Aharbal, often referred to as the ‘Niagara Waterfall of Kashmir’, has experienced an unprecedented surge in tourist footfall, attracting over two lakh visitors in the first eight months of this year, officials said.
The scenic beauty and tranquil surroundings of Aharbal Waterfall have left tourists from near and far spellbound, establishing it as an increasingly popular destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.
The figures maintained by the Aharbal Development Authority (ADA) reveal that 214,061 visitors visited the place in the last eight months.
“In January, the waterfall welcomed 2,560 tourists, followed by 12,880 in February, 4,620 in March, 22,450 in April, 11,397 in May, a staggering 43,402 in June, 64,028 in July, and 52,724 in August,” the figures reveal.
The CEO of Ahrabal Development Authority, Ghalib Mohiuddin Shah, expressed his delight over the overwhelming response, saying, “We have been working hard to promote tourism in Aharbal, and the visitors have flocked to the spot in both summer and winter.”
He said Aharbal has remained a popular destination for both domestic and local tourists throughout the year. “In recent years, the number of visitors including foreigners to the spot has increased dramatically, owing to its natural allure and the efforts of local authorities,” he said.
Another officer underscored the remarkable transformation that has taken place in Aharbal, attributing it to a sustained and collaborative effort spanning two years. He highlighted the instrumental role played by Deputy Commissioner of Kulgam Dr Bilal Mohi-Ud-Din Bhat, “whose visionary leadership has been pivotal in the resurgence of Aharbal as a vibrant tourist destination”.
“Over the course of the past two years, the region has witnessed a flurry of festivals and events that have not only invigorated the local culture but have also led to a substantial surge in tourist footfall,” he said.
The officer added, “Last year’s efforts yielded a remarkable doubling of tourist arrivals, and the outlook for the current year is even more promising, with expectations of tripling the number of visitors.”
Kiran Singh, a tourist from Chandigarh, was brimming with awe and wonder as he stood before the majestic natural wonder that is Kashmir’s waterfall. With uncontained enthusiasm, he exclaimed, “We had only heard about Niagara Falls, but after witnessing the breathtaking beauty of this waterfall, it feels as though we have been transported there. The sheer grandeur of this place is awe-inspiring. I am so captivated by the serene surroundings that I don’t want to leave.”