SRINAGAR: A four-day Leh festival began in Leh that witnessed attendance of hundreds of locals and tourists. The festival is aimed at extending the tourist season.
An official spokesman said the festival began with a march from DC office to Leh Stadium, which is the main venue of the event. The artists and the locals from many places including Kargil town, Dahanu Village, Zanasark, Nubra and other places showcased their culture and tradition through various dance performances which mesmerized the spectators. Some traditional sports activities like polo and archery were also held.
Director Tourism Kashmir, Mahmood A Shah highlighted the efforts of the department in harnessing the tourism potential of the Ladakh region. He said the tourist arrivals in the lean month of September start to decrease due to the cold conditions which need to be picked up by organizing such activities.
“We want tourist arrivals in September to pick up for which we are organizing this 4-day festival. Tourists will time up their visits to Leh on this festival which will help us get arrivals in this month. The festival provides an opportunity to present the unique culture of the region,” said the Director. He said incentives have been given to the tourism industry for the construction of hotels, guest houses and paying guest houses. “The incentive schemes have helped locals set up accommodation even in the remote areas in the form of paying guest houses.”
14 Corps Commander Lt Gen SK Upadhyay, who was the chief guest on the occasion, in his address welcomed the locals and the tourists. Later, a painting and art exhibition was also held.
The festival began with the conclusion of 450 kms India Expedition Adventure Race that concluded in Leh. South African team Nevarest Jabberwock won the race by running over the finishing line at Leh Market on Wednesday.
The SA team completed 350 km of final adventure race including 75 kilometers of rafting, 43 kilometers of mountain biking, 53 kilometers of trekking and uphill running, 120 kilometers of mountain cycling, and 59 kilometers of camel safari in Nubra Valley in just 55 hours competing during day and night.
The team which comprised of 3 men and a woman was received by Director Tourism at Leh.
Four teams pulled out of the gruelling race in Leh and one team was rescued and the rest eight teams are expected to finish the race by Thursday night. A total of 13 foreign teams from the countries like South Africa, Australia, United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand, Ireland, France, Argentina and Czech Republic and a local team participated in the event.
On September 13, The Expedition India 2017 was flagged off jointly by Secretary Tourism M H Malik and J&K Bank CEO and Chairman Parvez Ahmad at Shankaracharya hill where athletes ran 2.9 km downhill up to Nehru Park. At Nehru Park, the teams boarded the shikaras for a 5 kilometers race to SKICC lawns to complete the first leg of the adventure race.
On the same day, the teams left for Somamarg for the second leg where teams hiked 28kms at an altitude of 13000 feet to complete 2nd leg.
It is the first ever international adventure event where athletes passed through Land of High Mountain Passes at an average altitude of over 3500m, breathtaking Valley’s, and beautiful rivers making it one of the most fascinating and highest adventure races in the world. The participating teams are also accompanied by 25 foreign media persons who provide daily coverage to the international media on the event.
The organisers also made a fascinating promo of the event which had also generated lot of response on social media. Some of the films will also be made by the organisers for the event which will also promote Kashmir and Ladkah at global level.
“The race has foreign teams and some of the world champions also participated in the event. This has generated huge response from the athletes all over the world and is watched live by lakhs of the people on social media,” said Director Tourism Kashmir. J&K Bank has provided the internet connectivity for the event due to which the race is posted daily on websites and social media. The event is being organized by Johannesburg based company Kinetic Events in collaboration with department of Tourism and J&K Bank.
The closing ceremony will be held on September 22 at Leh while as a Press Conference on the successful conclusion of the event will be held in Srinagar on September 24.