Fresh snowfall in the upper reaches of Kashmir, including the tourist resort of Gulmarg, has literally come as a boon from the heavens for winter sports and tourism-related activities in the Valley, with the Tourism Department making arrangements for hosting a 'Snow Carnival' later this month.
The carnival, which is organised by the Tourism Department annually at Gulmarg resort, was scheduled to be held in the first week of January but a prolonged dry spell across Kashmir and scant snowfall at Gulmarg this winter almost dashed all hopes of holding the event this season.
"It has been snowing in Gulmarg since the wee hours today and if it continues for the next 48 hours, as has been forecast, we shall be able to organize a lot more snow-based activities during the coming Snow Carnival," Deputy Director Tourism Department Peerzada Zahoor told PTI.
Zahoor said the carnival will be held from January 21 to February 5 this year.
The tourism department is planning a wide range of activities for wooing tourists to Gulmarg during the carnival, which has been a hit with the visitors in the past, he said.
"We will have ice hockey, snow boarding, snow sledging, snowball fight competition and painting competitions during the carnival," the official said.
He said Tourism Department will also organise a 'night bazaar' (market) and cultural shows at the Gulmarg bowl so that the tourists have a wider range of activities to choose from.
"If the snow accumulation is in the range of four to five feet, we will also add snow skiing to the events of the carnival," Zahoor said.
People associated with tourism and travel trade in Kashmir are hopeful that a good spell of snowfall will help them tide over part of the losses suffered during the summer unrest in the Valley.
"The tourism related activities came to a standstill post-July due to the unrest in Kashmir. As the situation is getting back to normal, we hope the tourists will visit this winter to enjoy snowfall," Mohammad Shoaib, a travel agent, said.
He said low airfares to and from Kashmir should also attract more tourists to visit the valley.
Fresh snowfall in Gulmarg and other higher reaches of Kashmir started this morning while many parts of the valley were lashed by light to moderate rainfall.
The weatherman has forecast wet weather including light to moderate snowfall over the next three days in Kashmir.