A Forgotten Tourist Spot

Some time down the line, Lolab valley was abode to many ancient springs, and covered with dense forests; and it was declared as a new tourist place in the valley of Kashmir by the Government. “Lolab, known as the land of love and beauty, is now all set to enthrall tourists in and outside the State and thereby boost the local financial conditions / economy of the area in future”, was the rhetoric. A couple of former Tourism Ministers had troubled themselves by visiting the tourist place of Lolab valley in Kupwara and reviewed status of several projects being executed through Lolab-Bangus-Drangyari Tourism Development Authority and Tourism Department in the district. It was proclaimed that the Lolab valley will be developed in every manner to be showcased as one of the best tourist places globally. It was bragged that that the Valley (Lolab) will become hub of tourism activities in near future. A series of attractions would be created in virgin tourist destinations of Lolab – Bangus and Drangyari in the frontier district to encourage tourists to visit these spots. Spring and Herbal tourism of Lolab will be showcased as the valley is covered with majestic mountains with number of fresh springs and variety of herbs and flowers.  It was also proclaimed that Lolab, a favourite trekking route to Asia’s largest freshwater Lake Wular in Bandipore district would be revived for foreign tourists. The government had claimed that the people of the area should now expect better future and handsome earning for their livelihood and that in view of peace and normalcy gaining ground in the Valley, people, especially the jobless educated youth of Lolab, will have an opportunity to opt for tourism avenues and for this purpose, state government would encourage them by providing soft loans with subsides. It was promised that a good number of youth will be imparted various types of trainings in hospitality and protocol sector also to provide quality services to the tourists. A Foodcraft Institute would also be established in Kupwara and for the purpose a project of Rs 5 crore will be prioritised for Centre funding fiscal. It was also said up gradation of the tourist related infrastructure will be expedited and financial allocation worth crores would be made with some funding from the central Government for the transforming the place as an attractive and fascinating tourist place.

However, a visit to the valley reveals that no innovative or substantial steps have been taken so for to develop the valley as a real tourist destination. No infrastructure has been established, no good roads developed, and more importantly, no effort to overcome the water scarcity has been taken up seriously and the people continue to suffer in the area for drinking water.

The valley of Lolab is an oval shaped natural spot known for the lush green trees and pastures covered with fairly Deodar and other forests, amidst which of these forests, countless streams gush down and after joining together, these streams form a big stream called as Lalkul (Lahwal) stream, which flows through the valley. On the north of the valley is a table- land called as (wuder) with pine forests and is uninhabited except for a few Gujjar families.

The village of Varnow in Lolab valley is having historical importance because of the birth of the great religious scholar Allama Anwar Shah Kashmiri (RA). Some of the renowned places in the valley having tremendous tourism potential are Chandigam, Dooruswani, Khurhama, Krusan, Khomrial, Nagsari and Cherkoot. The famous Lov-nag is located in Anderbaugh village. The valley also provides road connectivity to the remote place of Machil which is known for the waterfall of Rangil. The lush green jungles surrounding the Chandigham provide an ample scope for the adventure loving people for trekking and mountaineering. 05 Kilometers away from Chandigham, there is also another beautiful tourist spot known as Dooruswani. Rangwar Lalpora in Lolab valley is full of pastures and lush green forests, wild flowers, and through these a stream flows on the outskirts of the village. On way to Rangwar, a village named as Krousen is also naturally beautiful. The Sattbarran Kalaroos in the valley of Lolab is a unique place of ancient architecture, situated on the outskirts of village Madmadav village in Kalaroos area. It is believed that there is a cave which is the way to the Central Asian states.

Trees that grow and festoon the Lolab valley are deodar, kail, pine, fir, elm, Chinar, poplar, willow and other medicinal herbs. The forests of the Lolab valley inhabit animals and birds like wild bulls, wild goats, black bears, markhores, jackal, musk deer, monkeys, leopards and foxes. There are birds like doves, fly–catchers, wild cocks, woodpeckers, falcons, swallows, wild ducks, crows, sparrows, pigeons and vultures also.

Though poet of the East Iqbal (RA) had not visited physically the valley of Lolab but still in his powerful imagination he had perceived the symbolic glimpses of the beauty of valley of Lolab. He, out of sheer love for this valley, expresses his feelings in “Armughaan-e-Hejaaz” (Urdu) under the assumed name of Mullazada Zaigham Lollabi,

Paani teri chesmun ka tadapta huwa seemab

Murgan sahar teri fazanwu main hai baitab

Aai Wadiyai Lolab

To Iqbal The scenic beauty, the big mountains and streams of Lolab meant grace of God. The fragrance of the valley, the sounds, the colours and the warbling of birds caught his eye and through his verses, he invited others to visit and watch the haunting beauty, gushing streams, flowing rivers and sparkling and dazzling nature of Lolab.

The valley of Lolab is abundant in natural beauty and therefore, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir should develop the valley as an attractive tourist spot.