SRINAGAR: Gurez valley, once hindered by inaccessibility due to cross-border shelling, is now on the brink of a remarkable transformation after connecting with Kargil’s Mushkoh valley.
Following recent maintenance, the 130-kilometer road, with Kaobal Gali at 4,166.9 meters in Gurez as its linchpin, has ushered in a new era for these valleys. Now authorities are actively considering the possibility of opening it to tourists, adding to its newfound importance.
The road connecting the two valleys is currently a fair-weather road maintained by the Border Roads Organisation under Beacon. But beyond Abdulin, near Kaobali Gali, the terrain requires 4×4 vehicles, offering adventure seekers an opportunity to explore the rugged landscape.
The ceasefire agreement, holding steady since February 25, 2021, has given rise to hopes that peace will prevail and lead to increased tourism in the region.
“This road signifies progress and peace,” said Farida Shah, a shop owner in Gurez. “We welcome tourists with open arms. We are eager to showcase the beauty and culture of our valley.”
Bashir Ahmed Khan, another villager, expressed his excitement, saying, “This road opening is a game-changer for us. It’s like connecting two worlds that were isolated for far too long. We hope to see more visitors and opportunities come our way.”
Gurez valley’s charm lies in its rustic log house villages and thriving wildlife, attracting nature enthusiasts.
Across the way, Mushkoh valley captivates with its vibrant meadows, glacier vistas, and endangered Himalayan yew.
For decades, those residing in the Gurez region near LOC have endured the harsh consequences of living in an area marked by constant turmoil and conflict. However, amidst this adversity, a ray of hope has emerged as international and domestic tourists flock to the region, providing the villagers with an opportunity to generate their livelihood.
“Over the last few years, it’s like a breath of fresh air in the border areas. Our villages are on the path of development, and it’s heartening to see progress taking root right at our doorstep,” said Mohammad Jamal, a local resident.
A top official noted a significant surge in the tourism sector, with the number of tourists increasing from a few hundred annually to over 53,000 visitors this year alone. This influx of tourists has not only revitalised the local economy but has also created substantial employment opportunities for the residents, marking a promising change for the region.
“In Gurez, we are systematically enhancing development in the tourism sector, along with critical infrastructure, to enhance its appeal for tourists,” explained the official. “The collaborative efforts of the Indian army, BSF, Police, and civil administration are dedicated to promoting and establishing this valley as a premier tourist destination,” he added. (KNO)