SRINAGAR: While renowned tourist destinations in Kashmir, such as Gulmarg and Pahalgam, eagerly await rainfall and snow, Peer Ki Gali, a picturesque spot on the Mughal road, is blanketed in thick snow but lacks visitors.
The 84-kilometre stretch connecting Shopian in Kashmir with Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu usually remains closed for four to six months due to heavy snowfall and is prone to high-danger avalanches.
However, due to a prolonged dry spell, it has remained open this winter. This provides an opportunity for tourists to explore Peer Ki Gali, which is currently covered in a pristine layer of snow, while the premier tourist destinations await snowfall to attract visitors.
Social activist Mansoor Magray from Shopian,said that several tourist spots like Peer Ki Gali, Sukh Sarie, Dobjan, Gadde and Zowara have been neglected by all the previous governments. “There is a need to promote these destinations to attract more tourists. This will also become a significant source of income for the youth of Shopian,” he said.
Magray said while the government is considering postponing events at Gulmarg due to the lack of snow, Peer Ki Gali could offer accessible snow-covered landscapes if proper infrastructure were developed. “Tourists from other states, who are disappointed by the absence of snowfall in famous places like Gulmarg, could find solace in exploring Peer Ki Gali,” he said.
Rouf Ahmad, a local, said Peer Ki Gali is easily accessible and is just an hour’s drive from Shopian town. “It is a feasible day trip. Despite being shrouded in snow, Peer Ki Gali lacks tourist rush due to the absence of adequate facilities, though some locals visit the area,” he said.
Locals said other spots like Dabjan, Hirpora and Mughal Sarai have mountains adorned with tall pine trees along the route to Peer Ki Gali.
“We urge Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and the tourism department to promote these destinations, especially Peer Ki Gali,” they said.
In 2015, the government established the Shopian-Dubjan-Peer Ki Gali Development Authority to develop the area.
An official said that some developmental steps were taken this year, with more initiatives in the pipeline. “Efforts are underway to promote these tourist destinations to attract a larger influx of visitors.”