This winter after a long time, Kashmir has experienced successive heavy snowfall which has thrown life out of gear: electricity has been erratic, traffic movement has been affected, more so along Jammu-Srinagar highway and the flights have recurrently been grounded. This drastic change in weather followed a largely dry spell through autumn which had made people rule out snow this year at least in the plains. But unlike the last year which mostly passed dry, this winter has witnessed recurrent snowfalls.
And this has been a welcome development for tourism. According to the tourism department, hotels and guest houses are running full, more so at Kashmirs Gulmarg and Jammus Patnitop, the two most sought after places in the state during winter. Both local and outstation tourists have made their way to the locations of Kashmir to experience the snow.
This is a redeeming change from the last some winters when occupancy of the hotels in Gulmarg used to be low, a rarity in this season. But this year hoteliers are upbeat, so is the tourism department. Snowfall is a boon for tourism. They hope to receive more tourists as the exorbitant cost of air tickets to Valley come down. Snow is important for its novelty for the ninety-nine percent of more than a billion Indians, so they look forward to visit Kashmir in winter.
2018 has been a good year for the tourism overall. Over 8 lakh people including 50,000 foreigners visited the Valley despite the turmoil.
Similarly, for the local people, while the snowfall brings with it many hardships, it is also a time for celebration. The heavy snow this winter has brought back the memory of the forgotten old winters when raconteurs would narrate the fairy tales during the night.
So like our distinct culture, the harsh snow-bound winter with all its hardships and joys is a part of our identity. While people take the seasons difficulties in their stride, it is the successive state governments which have yet to adapt to its challenges and ensure that the basic services like power are restored at the earliest whenever heavy snowfall plunges Valley into a blackout. We hope this winter is the last when people have to put up indefinitely with the suspended public services whenever snowfall takes place. In parts though, the Governor’s administration has done a better job this year. Despite the recurrent snowfall, the administration has been prompt with the restoration of the electricity. But many parts of the rural areas have complained of the neglect. The administration needs to pay attention to these areas too.
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