Srinagar: Bollywood actress and anchor Saumya Tandon, who is currently on a visit to Kashmir, is all praise for the valley’s natural beauty and hospitality of Kashmiris.
“Kashmir is so gorgeous. It is so beautiful. It has got raw beauty,” Tandon told Greater Kashmir in an exclusive interview.
Elaborating, she said, when you go to Europe, it is tailored, manicured, and marketed well.
“But Kashmir has natural scenic beauty which is very rare to find anywhere in the world,” Tandon said.
“Besides beauty, there is huge arts and crafts, and history. Kashmir has got its own mannerism and culture. As a tourist, there are many things we can buy. Exclusive to this place, I like Pashmina, carpets, Namdas, rugs, saffron, dry fruits. There are so many things as a tourist to take from Kashmir,” she said.
Tandon has worked in several films including ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Welcome To Punjab’.
She also worked in Hindi sitcom ‘Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain’.
Tandon has also hosted various popular TV shows including ‘Dance India Dance’, ‘Bournvita Quiz Contest’ and ‘Entertainment Ki Raat’.
She co-hosted ‘Zor Ka Jhatka: Total Wipeout’ with Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan in 2011.
“I am in Kashmir for a small shoot and extended it for a holiday. The shoot was pleasantly smooth and it’s a wonderful travel experience. I always wanted to go inside the Dal Lake in Shikara with flowers and I finally did it this time,” Tandon said.
Tandon shared her visit to famed Dal Lake in Shikara on her Instagram handle with the caption ‘Falling in love with #Kashmir again. Shooting and holidaying. It's truly magical’.
Wearing an embroidered pink suit, she had a ride in a Shikara (open wooden boat) decorated with different varieties of Kashmiri flowers in the post saying in her typical style, "Here I am once again in Kashmir”.
“This is my second time and I have fallen in love yet again. I have decided that I am going to come here every season because Kashmir is magic in every season. I remember it used to be, you know, like a dream to come to Kashmir, to come here to shoot, and it has become a reality now. So much nicer-safer. I feel that people are so warm to tourists. It is so friendly to shoot here. I have met so many wonderful people; I have made friends with them," Tandon says in the video posted on Instagram.
"I get to know some lovely stories of women who are doing so well, women who are empowered, independent, and getting educated, women who are reviving their art and crafts and are trying to become entrepreneurs. It is such a happy change. It is such a good feeling and I am giving it to the universe that I am going to come here and shoot like a Kashmiri girl very soon. You don't want to miss this, experience Kashmir, come here and fall in love,” she says, ending her video in the backdrop of Dal Lake, the houseboats, and the Zabarwan mountain range.
Impressed by the makeover of the summer capital in the last few months, Tandon, who is visiting Kashmir after two years, said, “Srinagar today looks totally geared up for the G20 Tourism Working Group meeting. Locals in Kashmir are very welcoming towards the tourists and it was great to see their businesses and tourism pick up. Kashmir is safer and tourist friendly. I met some wonderful women entrepreneurs while shopping for rugs, Pashmina and papier-mâché souvenirs. They are reviving the languishing arts and crafts of Kashmir and employing the local women as well, generating employment. I bought myself some precious local stuff.”
Tandon, who is a vegetarian, liked Kashmiri food.
“I got myself invited for a Kashmiri lunch. I really liked the dishes though I am vegetarian. In Kashmir, the preparation of vegetarian food is different from ours. Sag, Nadru, and Yakhni were delicious. I like the unique way to prepare cheese. I thoroughly enjoyed the food. In fact I am taking these recipes back home,” she said.
Tandon also visited Srinagar’s downtown areas and was fascinated by heritage markets.
“Downtown is the real heritage of Kashmir,” she said. “You can see how the artisans are making shawls, you can shop the best in downtown. It is one of the oldest markets where we can buy spices, shawls, and rugs. Plus it gives a raw feel of Kashmir, which is not to be missed. We miss this as tourists because the perception of downtown is very disturbed. But I realised downtown is not to be missed if you visit Kashmir. Kashmir visit is incomplete if you don’t visit downtown.”
Tandon said that the G20 meeting in Srinagar was a really huge move.
“I feel the G20 meeting will boost businesses, tourism, and film tourism in this region. The summit is also going to send a message to the world that Kashmir is peaceful. I have high hopes that it is going to open doors for Kashmir in many ways which will generate employment and prosperity for the Valley,” she said.