Srinagar: For the first time, Jammu and Kashmir government is holding a mega tourist festival in remote Wawan valley in a bid to put this virgin destination on the tourism map.
This follows the keen interest shown by adventure lovers who thronged the remote Warwan valley this summer.
The inhabitants of the Warwan valley by and large belong to economically backward sections and the festival scheduled on October 8 is expected to increase footfalls in the future.
As the J&K government is endeavoring to bring new and unexplored areas on the union territory’s tourism map, stakeholders say the festival can ‘usher in a new era of hope and development’ for the remote area and its ‘forgotten people’.
“This festival is a very welcome step by the Kishtwar Development Authority and Jammu tourism. It is a first-of-its-kind festival and it will have some unique events like presenting traditional food such as ‘tromb tschot’, local jump dance, horse riding skills, display of grass shoes and woolen stockings used to walk on ice and snow, etc. It can usher in a new era of hope and development for this remote cut-off place and its forgotten people,” trekker Wiqar Bashir told The Kashmir Monitor.
“Tourism activities will give much-needed employment and a new life to this beautiful but economically very backward area, which so far was left to the mercy of elements. Most inhabitants here live in extreme poverty and many migrate before extremely harsh winter sets in as the valley gets cut off for six months and lacks even basic medical care,” he added.
However, he said the valley was ‘very fragile’ and prone to natural disasters such as landslides, avalanches, and flash floods and hence tourist activities should be responsibly conducted. “Tourist activities have to be controlled and restricted to eco-friendly camping and home stays only,” he said.
Irshad Ahmad Rather, who set up the first eco-resort in Warwan earlier this year, said around 300 visitors had come to his resort this summer and said the upcoming fest would augur well for the valley.
“This area has mostly remained unexplored and we set up a first-of-its-kind Warwan Valley Eco Resort earlier this year. It is an eco-friendly resort and around 300 visitors have visited us so far. The visitors included three foreign tourists besides groups of Xtreme Offroaders and Kashmir Off Road Global. We are upbeat over the festival as it can attract more tourists in the future,” Irshad told The Kashmir Monitor.
“We have lined up several activities where we will showcase our ethnic cuisines and other facets of our culture. There will be lectures on the dos and don’ts of camping and what care we need to take at eco-friendly resorts so that it does not get polluted. We will also display our medicinal plants,” he added.