Kashmir’s Winter Wonderland

Drung, a buzzing frozen fall, where life freezes for good
Kashmir’s Winter Wonderland
GK Photo

As Kashmir region is witnessing harsh weather conditions, tourists and visitors are thronging famed tourist destinations here including Drung, a buzzing frozen fall—where life freezes for good.

Drung, a small hamlet is a beautiful tourist spot in Tangmarg tehsil of Gulmarg in north Kashmir’s district Baramulla. It is around 50 kilometres away from the summer capital, Srinagar and is also bordering central Kashmir’s district, Budgam.

Earlier Drung mostly remained abuzz with the visit of locals—who would often go there for short trips. Few years back, this spellbound place shot to fame because of huge social media appeal and tourists—who only visit places like Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonamarg. They included this quiet little picturesque place into their itinerary.

“Drung is beautiful. It just convinces you it is even more captivating in the wintertime,” a group of tourists from south India told Greater Kashmir.

“This place (Drung) is a beautiful place and is still fresh and protected from human interference. Pine forests and the stream with many log bridges make the place really worth visiting,” they say.

Scores of other tourists are elated, saying that Drung during summers is even more appealing and charming.

“I’ve visited Drung in the summertime and every time I visit it is an experience to remember for eternity,” says a blogger.

“What inspired me to write a blog on Drung are the experiences I’ve had when I’ve visited this majestic place in the winters.”

Waterfalls are sought-after destinations in the Kashmir region. Hike to one, and the cascading falls are a reward: They’re not just mesmerizing; the mist would cool you down. But waterfalls also put on a spectacular and almost other-worldly show in the winter months when their falls freeze in time.

A foreigner, hailing from Argentina, Alejo, told Greater Kashmir, he had arrived in India amid the peak of COVID scare and got stuck during lockdown. During this time, he says he, along with his sister, visited many Indian states and cities.

“When we arrived in Srinagar, Kashmir. We thought we were back home. We have many beautiful valleys back in our county. This place (Kashmir) is spellbound and when you talk about places like Drung, all you need is to take a deep breath and immerse into its natural beauty.” He says Drung has mesmerizing views of the frozen waterfall.

In the dead silence of the winters when everything rests under a blanket of snow, this place shows its true nature. “Because of the extremely low temperature, the waterfall freezes just like everything that surrounds it,” he says.

Another blogger says that unlike in the summers, only a handful of people visit Drung. “I truly believe the Drung looks so much more beautiful in the winters.”

“I can stare at the frozen waterfall all day long while sipping a cup of hot tea which the locals provide as there are a few tea stalls which remain open all throughout the year,” he says. “The whole aura of the place becomes quiet and peaceful in the winters.”

“Kashmir is an all-season destination. Each season has its own charm. However, the infrastructure is not upto the mark. For that the government must rope in investors and also do the baseline surveys,” say, a group of tourists.

“Kashmir is also an ideal destination to satisfy the craving of backpackers. Kashmir can give you a better experience than Switzerland and Turkey or any other place during winter,” they say.

‘Winter vibes & Vloggers’

Drung turns into a winter wonderland each year, with icy blue waterfalls that are mostly frozen and a snow-blanketed forest. A traveller while sharing his experience says that “one day, I just saw one of my favorite travel blogger’s Instagram posts and instantly wanted to visit this place,” says Satish Shah, a traveler.

“Kashmiri people are also coming out and going to these places, which is outstanding. We Kashmiris normally don’t tend to travel inbounds. This place is just too good. I have been there but it was summers but in winter it's just breathtaking,” Jalib, a vlogger, says.

‘Kahin Dhoor’ by Megha Kapoor, a vlogger, says that the view & the ambience of the gushing waters of the glaciers and the waterfall is mesmerising & when you put your feet in the cold glacier water, it really hits differently. It is like therapy to the body, mind & soul.

Blogger and founder, Traveldarwish, Asrar Qazi, also has highlighted the several aspects of various places in Kashmir including, Drung. “Traveling & trekking have been my passion ever since I could remember,” he says. “I love exploring the wild, uncharted places. I’m highly influenced by Sufism.”

‘Defunct Policies, Derailed Development’

The road leading to the Drung waterfall is in shambles and appears to be a dangerous track as only one vehicle could pass at a time. Tourists have expressed resentment over the condition of the roads leading to the famed waterfall. “The government must either leave these places untouched or develop them properly. The half-way development puts everything under scanner,” Ummer Maqbool, a local from Magam area, says.

Locals alleged that there is a complete mess as far as the administrative affairs are concerned. They said roads are in shambles because various departments are on the job either to claim or disclaim it. “We have seen sometimes a department starts the work and later officials of the departments are quick to stop it. There is no coordination between the departments as far as the developmental initiatives are concerned,” Iqbal Ahmad, a local said. “Not only this, army’s intervention is another concern. We don’t understand why a single department can’t take the lead in developing this area. We believe that this is a cause of defunct policies and derailed development.”

Officials at Department of Tourism, Kashmir, told Greater Kashmir that several developmental initiatives were underway to bolster the infrastructural graph of various tourist places in Kashmir. However they admitted that there was an intervention from many sources and departments which was hampering the overall development of the area.

“The roads leading to Drung comes under R&B. The moment we take up the issue with them, they come with their own excuses and concerns,” Chief Executive Officer, Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA), Zahoor Ahmad Raina, told Greater Kashmir.

“We have several huts near this tourist place. They are state of the hurts and have already been sublet to the private partner but unfortunately Forest Department has raised some concerns on that. We are on the process to resolve it. The more quicker it gets resolved, the more we would be able to add to the beauty of the place,” he added.

Greater Kashmir