Shikargah, a small hamlet situated at the intersection of Wasturwen and Kherwon mountains in Tral town of district Pulwama district, which is also famous for Hangul Conservation Breeding Centre, could have become an attractive tourist destination but government's indifference towards it has marred its potential, said local residents.
The resort was once an attractive tourist destination and a favourite hunting place for Maharaja Hari Singh who would often visit this place for hunting. In the 90s, due to the security concerns, the Shikargah was sealed and roads leading to the resort were also closed with barbed wires. On the main Tral-Shikargah road the camps of Army, CRPF, BSF and police were also deployed over the years. However, in 2011, the road as well as Shikaragh Park was thrown open for public with an aim to boost the local economy. Since then the tourist inflow has increased and every year hundreds of locals including students visit this place.
The locals said that Shikargah, which is only about 3 km away from sub-district headquarters Tral, has been neglected by the tourism department. Locals and traders union Tral are also demanding the removal of army camp at the entry point which they said is a bottleneck and poses threat to the local tourists. "Whenever tourists visit Shikargah, army first takes their identity cards and also restricts their movement, thereby causing inconvenience to them," said Muhammad Abdullah, a shopkeeper in Tral.
"During these years government should have at least constructed a small washroom for tourists. Also transport facility, proper parking space and shops are required to make Shikargah an attractive tourist destination." said Ishpal Singh, a local resident of Shikargah.
Besides Shikargah, places like Nag Baeren (upper Dachigam), Nagpather, Narastan, Aripal, Hajin and Gofkral can also be developed as potential tourist resorts. The locals and traders unions have asked the government from time to time to form Tral development authority which could look after and develop tourism infrastructure in Tral.
In May 2017, the government had announced that Shikargah will be developed as a picnic spot in Tral to boost tourism in the area. Government had also announced to connect Tral with Pahalgam through a trekking route, Bathnoor, which will make the road including Shikargah as part of a bigger tourist circuit, boosting the local economy.
Additional deputy commissioner Tral, Riyaz Ahmed Malik told Greater Kashmir that the development work has already started at Shikargah. "The work on tourist cafeteria is underway and more development works are in the pipeline for future," he said.