by Sadakat Ali Malik

While the snow-clad mountains amplify Dagan’s beauty, they also pose weather-induced challenges. To bolster tourism, it is imperative to consider incorporating Dagan into various tourism schemes.

Gujjar hutments at Dagan Top in Doda

Doda boasts numerous locations with untapped tourism potential, garnering recognition at the national level. Among these is Dagan Top, situated in the Gandoh area of Doda, Jammu and Kashmir.

Within the heights of Bhalessa, Dagan Top remains a hidden treasure waiting to be explored. Its locales near the village Panchayat Gingota make it a focal point between Chamba and Doda, featuring sites like Gamgul, Shinkri, Makan, and Chasool on either side of Rohari meadows. Adjacent areas such as Mandral, Jawali, and those bounded by Talaie present landscapes for trackers and mountaineers. In the summer, Dagan is inhabited by Pahari dwellers, ethnic Kashmiris, Gujjers, and Bakkerwals, and the region is adorned with coniferous trees.

A primary attraction for visitors is the cattle grazing activity in Dagan. This region encapsulates the unique characteristics defining its geography, nomadic and Pahari culture, and the potential for sustainable tourism development. The steep slopes of Bhalessa delineate the boundaries of Dagan, offering a breathtaking view as one ascends these elevations, revealing the beauty of the entire area.

Surrounded by lush green villages such as Alni Gingota, Kota, Ghati, Bunencha, Kakoti, and Alni, Dagan Top, unfortunately, lacks proper road connectivity. Nevertheless, it becomes a focal point for exploring the cultural nuances of the region. Its proximity to Mandral, Jawali, and Rohari meadows adds to the geographical diversity, providing a multifaceted experience for those venturing into this verdant hilltop.

Dagan Top, beyond being a marvel, stands as a testament to the diverse cultural heritage of Doda. In the summer, Pahari, Gujjar, and Bakkerwals communities reside here, preserving their traditions. Cattle grazing, integral to their way of life, enriches the cultural experience for visitors.

All the surrounding peaks like neighbours from Dagan Top in Doda

Summer cattle grazing not only sustains local livelihoods but also offers visitors a unique perspective. This traditional activity, often overlooked in more commercialized tourist spots, establishes an authentic connection to the land and its people, unveiling the vibrant life in Dagan Top.

The tourism potential of Dagan Top is rooted in its untouched environment, avoiding the footprints of mass tourism. Its pristine beauty beckons travellers seeking solace in nature, providing a sanctuary from the fast pace of modern life. The preservation of this unspoiled experience underscores Dagan Top as a destination for those desiring an authentic connection with the natural world.

As Dagan gains recognition on the tourism map, achieving a delicate equilibrium between accessibility and preservation becomes imperative. Thoughtful planning and sustainable tourism practices are crucial to ensure that the growing influx of visitors does not compromise the integrity of the environment or the unique cultural heritage of the region.

Adorned with a variety of coniferous trees, Dagan Top enhances its visual allure. These majestic trees not only contribute to the aesthetic beauty of the region but also play a pivotal role in maintaining ecological balance. Exploring the flora in this locale offers insights into the delicate ecosystems thriving in this high-altitude haven.

Beyond its visual allure, the meadows of Dagan Top contribute an additional layer to its beauty. The rustling of leaves, calls of indigenous birds, and whispers of the wind create a natural symphony, offering an immersive experience for those attuned to adventure.

Dagan derives strategic advantages from its location. The surrounding meadows and villages enhance the overall charm, establishing it as a destination seamlessly blending natural beauty with cultural authenticity. This strategic positioning provides opportunities for responsible tourism development while maintaining the sanctity of the landscape.

Preserving the unseen beauty of Dagan poses challenges and opportunities alike. Achieving a balance between promoting tourism and conserving the pristine environment necessitates community involvement, robust regulations, and sustainable infrastructure development.

Involving local communities in the tourism development process is pivotal for ensuring equitable distribution of benefits. Empowering residents of Dagan Top to actively engage in and benefit from tourism can instil a sense of ownership and responsibility toward preserving their cultural and natural heritage.

Thoughtful and sustainable infrastructure development plays a crucial role in managing visitors without causing harm to the environment. Trails, viewing platforms, and eco-friendly accommodations can enhance the visitor experience while minimizing the ecological footprint.

Dagan Top, nestled in Bhalessa, beckons exploration, encouraging an appreciation for simplicity and a deep engagement with a culture steeped in tradition. As this captivating locale unveils its wonders, the challenge lies in preserving its essence while responsibly opening it to tourism. Dagan Top, with its geographical marvels, cultural richness, and untapped potential, transcends being merely a destination; it represents an opportunity to redefine our approach to appreciating the unseen beauty the world offers. Visitors embarking on this journey become stewards, ensuring Dagan Top’s charm endures for generations.

Surrounded by silent, snow-clad mountains, Dagan Top offers a mesmerizing view, defining its physical boundaries and contributing to its mystique.

In winter, the snow-covered landscape of Dagan opens new possibilities for activities like snow trekking. Adventurers can traverse the undulating terrain, experiencing the beauty up close, with the crisp mountain air and the crunch of snow underfoot enhancing the sensory richness of the journey.

For photography enthusiasts, Dagan Top, in its snow-clad glory, provides a beautiful viewpoint.

Sadakat Ali Malik

To reach Dagan, commence your journey from Doda, heading toward Thathri via the Kilhotran Changa Road. After covering a few kilometres, you will arrive at the Kota Bonencha area, serving as the entry point to Dagan. It’s crucial to note the absence of a specific inner approach road; local horse rides are available on demand. Travellers should make necessary preparations for potential rough conditions on the way to Dagan, as the journey is inherently adventurous.

While the snow-clad mountains amplify Dagan’s beauty, they also pose weather-induced challenges. To bolster tourism, it is imperative to consider incorporating Dagan into various tourism schemes. Establishing a Tourism Reception centre, inner approach roads, and tourism infrastructure facilities will contribute to attracting visitors nationwide.

(The author is a blogger, writer, and linguist based in Jammu and Kashmir. Ideas are personal.)


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