In an endeavor to promote golfing tourism and encourage tourists from Pakistan to visit the Valley, a SAARC nation golf tournament held from October 7 to October 12, witnessed group of Pakistani golfers exhibiting their golfing skills at various golf courses across Kashmir.
The golfers were handed over awards during an impressive ceremony at the Royal Springs Golf course here on Monday. The event was organized by Pash India while CNE Holidays had provided logistical support for this tournament.
The Secretary Tourism Farooq Shah while addressing the Pakistani delegation of 24 visitors, including the golfers said state government is committed to improve golfing infrastructure in the Valley.
Shah said six new golf courses would be set-up during next two years which also includes new golf courses in Yusmarg and Sonamarg. "The Ladakh golf course is world's highest altitude golf course. We hope visitors from Pakistan would also encourage visits to heritage sites such as Aali Masjid which is 650 years old. The 2100 high altitude lakes in Kashmir are gems that we are proud of," Shah said.
Sardar Murad Khan, a golfer who won the Gulmarg round of the tournament said ' visit to Kashmir was a lifetime experience' adding that ' quality of hotels' and 'traffic infrastructure' needs a fillip. "As Pakistani's, Kashmir is always on our mind. Certain aspects such as quality of hotels and decongestion of traffic needs to be sorted out in order to make Kashmir a more tourist friendly place," Khan said.
A lady golfer Sadia Maaz, whose forefathers originally hail from Sopore said Kashmir being a pre-dominantly 'Muslim place' gives any Pakistani tourist visiting the Valley a feeling of being at home. "It was a wonderful experience to visit Pari Mahal, Jamia Masjid and several other historical places in the city. The best thing about Kashmir is that people are extremely honest," Maaz said.
Zulfikar Rana who was heading the delegation said playing golf on the three golf courses has left the delegation spellbound. Among other winners at the tournament was Alam Sethi who won the Pahalgam round, Murad Khan who won the Srinagar round and Mir Maaz Mehboob who was the overall winner of the tournament.