Tourists throng Bhaderwah after recent snowfall

The last couple of months have been good for the tourism sector in Bhaderwah.
The last couple of months have been good for the tourism sector in Bhaderwah.Special arrangement

Bhaderwah: The local economy in Bhaderwah which was experiencing a continuous slump since the COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly received a much-required boost as visitors are converging in large numbers to experience the beauty of snow-filled meadows and peaks.

The snowfall earlier this month has brought the Guldanda meadow and Chattergalla pass — situated at an altitude of 9,555 and 10,400 feet simultaneously— to life with the places brimming with visitors.

The twin meadows which of late have emerged as favourite destinations for tourists being located 35 km north-east of Bhaderwah town on the Bhadarwah-Pathankot national highway have given all tourist stakeholders including small-time vendors, cab operators, hoteliers, and guesthouse owners a reason to smile with the flow of visitors giving a much much-needed shot in the arm to the tourism industry.

Tourists from different states are beaming with joy and happiness while experiencing the beauty of white snow and chill that too in mid-May when the plains from where they travel experience a grueling heat wave. Locals have attributed the inflow of visitors to the vision of the Prime Minister.

“We came to pay obeisance at Mata Vaishno Devi Katra and thereafter our plan was to go to Kashmir but the tour operator suggested we visit Bhaderwah as the Jammu-Srinagar highway was closed. We decided to give it a try and believe me the tour of this beautiful valley is worth every penny,” said Santosh Jangam, a tourist from Mumbai.

“It’s like a dream come true as we are playing with snow in mid-May when our place is under an intense heat wave. The vast meadows give an impression of being covered with white carpet surrounded with snow peaked mountains. It’s mesmerizing and magical. We are fortunate and lucky to be here at Guldanda,” said Santosh, 45, another visitor from Mumbai.

“We were in search of a virgin destination for our honeymoon that ended at Bhaderwah Valley ,” said Sunny Kumar from Patna.

“It’s like a dream come true that when our native place is experiencing an intense heat wave, we are in woolens playing with snow. This place is vast and far more easily accessible than Rohtang Pass as it took us just 40 minutes from our hotel at Bhaderwah town to reach Guldanda. If better facilities are provided here it can become a world-class class destination,” Sunny added.

“Tourist inflow has given us a new lease of life as the govt jobs have dried up and there are very few business opportunities but the sudden inflow of tourists has saved us from bankruptcy and since last month we are doing good business at Guldanda,” said Mohd Yusaf Wani, 37, a local tea vendor at Guldanda.

“I have been serving local cuisine like wild ferns, makki ki roti (corn flour bread), salt Kashmiri tea (Sheer Chai), and white butter and the tourists are loving it. My entire family including my son and wife have joined me to meet the rush of visitors at our Desi Chai tea stall which we have established in makeshift tented accommodation at Thanthera,” said Shabir Ahmed (53) of village Basti.

The last couple of months have been good for the tourism sector in Bhaderwah. The region witnessed booming tourism seasons, especially after district administration Doda held a series of events like a snow carnival at Jaie followed by a snow festival and J&K’s maiden snow marathon at Guldanda meadow.

“Last few months were one of the best for the tourism industry as the Bhaderwah Valley witnessed a record number of tourist arrivals during this season,” said Vishesh Paul Mahajan, DC Doda

Guldanda, Chattergalla, and Padri, especially in winter, have emerged as the most popular among the many places on Jammu’s tourist map. Tourist arrivals have spiked after the recent snowfall, the DC added. “We have an average of around 9,00 tourist arrivals here daily.” Most of the hotels are fully occupied or booked, he added.

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