Srinagar: It is raining good news for nature enthusiasts and trekking lovers. Gone are the days when a trek meant trudging up the old familiar trails of Gulmarg and Pahalgam.
The forest department has identified 75 trek routes traversing the entire Jammu and Kashmir. Sixty of them have been thrown open for the valley, and 15 are in the offing.
According to the official data, the 75 treks are divided into six circles, Srinagar, South, North, East, West, and Chenab circles, with each circle having more than 10 identified trekking routes with maps and everything. The north circle comprises Baramulla and Kupwara districts and has the highest 26 identified routes -some close to the Line of Control.
Trek routes include Badrikali to Galganzara in the Kupwara district covering a length of 7.43 kilometers, Kishtwar to Nilvan-Bangus-Lachar covering 18 km, Nowgam-Kandi -Botapathri-Gulmarg in Baramulla district covering 18km. Similarly, in the Srinagar circle, the trek routes include Doodhpatthri-Diskal covering 5km, and Drung- Danwas covering 7kms, etc.
Likewise, Srinagar and south circles have more than 20 routes, some trekking routes are within the city- located on both the sides of the Jhelum river and surrounded by mountains and traversed by hill ranges.
A senior official of the Forest Department told The Kashmir Monitor that the Himalayas offer plenty of opportunities for trekking in the region that were earlier inaccessible to the locals.
“We aim to popularize these off-beat locations. Trekkers can get the ideal panoramic views and bring them face to face with the surreal beauty of the region. Also, you get to observe the traditional lifestyle of the people while in others, the lesser-trodden routes overwhelm you with their beauty. Besides, these routes can target a specific section of adventure-loving tourists and generate some livelihood for locals at the same time,” he said.
Mountaineers have welcomed the government’s decision. “Trekking is gaining popularity among people of all age groups. Nowadays, people prefer going to natural retreats to relax and rejuvenate. The love for flora and fauna in the wild is the biggest reason why people are eagerly undertaking these activities. In this process, a person can also learn to respect and protect the natural heritage of mountain systems,” said Arshid Majid, an avid trekker, and member of Alpine Adventures,
He added that the opening of new hiking trails is also a positive step towards improved livelihood where locals can engage in and benefit from mountain tourism.