Srinagar: For a change, a young blogger is exploring a gastronomical route to increase tourist footfalls in Kashmir.
Omar Rather, who runs Kashmir Food Gram, is promoting culinary walks to attract food-loving tourists to Kashmir.
“There is a niche section of people that travels purely for food. They mostly explore the traditional food joints and markets and also are interested in the legacies behind the cuisines. Food tourism has become an industry outside but it is still in its infancy in Kashmir. However, of late I have organized many food walks in Srinagar. Most food bloggers come for these walks. Recently, a lady from the ‘My Food Project’ and another known blogger Jamshed from Kerala came for a food walk. A Swiss couple also came for the food walk that is held mostly in downtown and other spots like Hazratbal market,’ Omar told The Kashmir Monitor.
He said only certified persons were supposed to organize such trips.
“Only certified people are allowed to organize food walks under rules and I have the required certification. Besides knowledge about local food, one needs to be aware of the history and legacy of cuisines. While I take my clients to baker’s (kandur) shop to ‘nadur-monjih’ seller. I prefer organizing food walks on Fridays. On Fridays, I am able to take food travelers to Dargah Hazratbal market where people from different areas of Kashmir come to sell traditional food products. They also want to see fruit markets or places where apples are sold. Now, more people and bloggers have started showing keen interest in these food walks. ‘Bhooka Saand’, a famous food blogger, is also coming for a food walk in the coming days. Due to Covid protocols, I do not take more than five persons at a time for a food walk,” he said.
Omar, however, regretted that the authorities were not taking food tourism seriously. “I have a plan of inviting five most-followed bloggers for food walks that will in the long run boost food tourism in Kashmir. These food bloggers have millions of followers out of which many travel purely to explore the food from other places. Unfortunately, there are no sponsors as people do not understand this concept yet. Food tourism is a big industry outside now and food bloggers have become celebrities,” said Omar, who also runs the popular ‘kashmirfoodgram’ page on Instagram.