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CULTURE WATCH: Natural Beauty of Kulgam district

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1 Nov 2020


Syed Hussain Simnani is arguably one of the most celebrated Syeds coming from Iran and Central Asia in Medieval period who accelerated the process of Islamisation of Kashmir. He came from a place called Simnan in Iran.

Travelling in the
Kashmir valley, he one day was resting on a spot on a cliff overlooking the river Veshaw. He was so enthralled by the beauty of the location that he made it his permanent abode and was buried at the very spot which he had found fascinating. He named the area “Kulgam”; Kul meaning clan and Gram meaning village.

The area had been a hunting place for Mughal and Dogra rulers, like Shahanshah Shah Jehan, who laid the “Chinar Bagh” and Maharaja Hari Singh, who discovered the virgin potential of sanctuary at Kutbal. Kulgam is the birthplace of Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani, the founder of the Rishi order, and of the forefathers of Allama Iqbal and Jawaharlal Nehru.

Tourist Places

Kulgam ensures that despite the unrest and the violence, it’s sheer beauty continues to give meaning to Amir Khusro’s famous words.

From the Verinag spring to the Aherbal waterfalls, these places provide numerous options for travellers to soak in the natural beauty of the region. Anyone traveling to the Kulgam district cannot help but intending the travel to Verinag. Verinag is famous for its spring and a well manicured garden. There is an octagonal stone basin at Verinag Spring which is the origination of the Jhelum river.

The arcade surrounding it was built by Mughal emperor Jahangir in 1620 A.D. Next to this spring, a beautiful garden was laid out by his son
Shah Jahan. The architecture at the complex in Verinag is very intricate. Moreover, owing to the fact that Jhelum River contributes to most of the agriculture in the region, which is the prime source of income for 75% of the population, it is can be said that Verinag is the lifeline of South Kashmir. Kulgam district also has abundance of natural springs like Kaunsernag (South of Aherbal), Waseknag (Kund), Khee Nag (Khee Jogipora) etc. Tracking enthusiasts have the opportunity to track on the Aherbal-
Kungwattan – Kaunsernag route which is a two day track with plenty of natural beauty.

Apart from these, numerous virgin meadows in the area from Kund to Ladigasan (ahead of Aherbal clefts) also attract many tourists owing to their calm and peaceful effect that they have on people, thereby proving as ideal places to introspect and meditate.

Sustainability in Current Scenario. Due to the numerous active militants & OGWs in the Kulgam district & the resultant military operations, the threat to life and limb in the district is widespread therefore creating a hindrance in the minds of many potentia tourists. Even though tourists may plan to visit Kashmir, they often tend to restrict their travel to Srinagar, Gulmarg & the Leh-Ladakh area. Moreover due the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry on the whole has taken an even bigger beating therefore
causing an imbalance and turbulence in the economy not only for Kashmir but also for the nation as a whole. In addition, the NH-44 or the Kashmir-Kanyakumari highway is a major road axis connecting Kashmir to mainland India.

This road is in poor condition in patches, especially the strech from Rambhan to Banihal, the development of which is constantly affected by landslides and shooting stones. This highway needs to be improved at the earliest, to incentivize tourists for safe travel, considering the mental
hesitation to travel by air due to the comparatively higher chances of contracting the COVID virus. Kulgam district is bestowed with natural resources that attract large number of tourists every year. The economic impetus developed by the tourism industry has a substantial
contribution to the GDP of the state.

However, it is been rightly said that with greater opportunities come greater responsibilities. The nature of most of the tourist destinations of Kashmir is fragile and eco-sensitive. In order to cater to the needs of a
large number of tourists, environmental stress on natural resources becomes obvious.

This stress often leads to irreparable damage to the ecosystem and causes pollution to the resources that it strives upon. As such, tourism management requires special
attention. The natural resources and biodiversity of these areas can be seriously threatened if the inflow of people and subsequent infrastructural development is not overlooked by proper policies. This is the need of the hour.

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