Published on : Thursday, January 21, 2021
Gulmarg is once again filled with domestic tourists who are having a great time skiing, sledging and trekking. But that is not all; the resorts here are sold out till end of February.
Snow lies knee-deep in the pastoral town of Gulmarg, or “meadow of flowers,” on Indian-controlled Kashmir’s high plateau.
With its blanket of white, this idyllic hill station is welcoming tourists again.
The heavy influx of tourists is a remarkable change for the tourism industry in disputed Kashmir, which dealt the double blow of the corona virus pandemic and harsh curbs on civil rights India imposed in the region in August 2019.
Almost a century ago, Gulmarg was developed as a resort by the British, and the region’s everlasting appeal with foreign visitors has made it a year-round destination. In summer, tourists meander through meadows, ravines and evergreen-forested valleys. In winter, they snowboard and trek on Asia’s largest ski terrain.
The 2019 end of Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status and an unprecedented security crackdown turned Gulmarg into a ghost town, marking the region’s economic ruin. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries pegged the economic losses in the region at $5.3 billion and about half a million loss of jobs till August last year.
However, the worst was yet to come. Last March, Indian authorities enforced a harsh lockdown to curb the corona virus, all but halting foreign travel.
The pandemic, however, has made Indians reassess their own vacations. Now, they have decided to travel to Gulmarg when otherwise they might have gone abroad.