Srinagar: A three-day festival has been organized by the Tourism department of the union territory to boost tourism in Gurez Valley in Bandipora district. The Gurez Festival, which highlights the heritage and culture of the area, began on Friday. The event was organized in collaboration with the local administration.
A variety of cultural and traditional performances will be presented during the festival by different clubs in Gurez. Among the special features of the festival are presentations of cultural items by local groups in Sheena, Dardi, Pahari and other dialects.
There are also a number of stalls set up by different departments, including animal and sheep husbandry, handloom, sericulture and handicrafts. Tourists and locals alike showed keen interest in the products on display at the stalls.
Director of Tourism in Kashmir Dr. G N Itoo told ANI that the objective is to promote tourism in unknown or lesser-known destinations. Dr. Itoo said that Gurez is at par with other tourist destinations and has huge potential, adding, ‘Gurez is not only beautiful, but also very well known for its music and dance. This is a good destination for adventurous travellers, including trekking, rafting, fishing, and even nature walks. They will have an unforgettable experience here.’
There are many excellent tourist spots in the union territory, but there is a lack of exposure, which causes it not to get enough visitors. The valley is approximately 170 km from Srinagar, but the route to Gurez closes for five to six months during the winter months beginning in December because of heavy snowfall.
Residents of the area praised authorities for organizing the festival, which they said will increase tourist traffic. According to Farooq Kaloo, ‘This festival will bring in tourists, which will benefit hotels and other businesses in the tourism industry. Such festivals should be held here more often.’
As a result of COVID-19, tourism suffered, but the festival is going to help it rebound, said Mohd Ilyas, a resident in the Gurez valley. Another local, Ejaz Lone, said that there are a variety of landscapes in Gurez that are undiscovered. ‘In the last few years, tourist inflows were low, but now about 400-500 tourists come here each day. In the past, Gurez was not thoroughly explored,’ he added.