This piece of land that we call Kashmir is the most beautiful part of this world. It has great potential to attract tourists across the globe. But the only problem with it is political instability which doesn’t allow the tourism sector to flourish properly. Despite this, it witnesses a great rush every year with the coming of the spring season. Tourism in Kashmir is no more seasonal. It works all throughout the year now. There is a great hustle in winters too as everyone knows about the sports festival held at Gulmarg every year. While we see gardens and tourist spots shut for the general public due to corona pandemic. This year witnessed a tremendous increase in trekking in the upper reaches of the mountains.
It may not be wrong to say that Kashmir is a trekkers paradise. The beautiful vale of Kashmir is surrounded by high mountains on all sides. On top of these mountains are hidden numerous lakes and springs. Some of them are known to everyone while others are hidden in between peaks. Every corner of the vale serves as a base camp for trekking. All we need is to keep searching for new places and lakes so that we can contribute to bringing new spots on the tourism map. In this way, we can invite global trekkers to visit Kashmir.
There is a good scope for hiking in Kashmir. Everyone is curious enough to know what is hidden behind these lofty mountains that surround our valley. From trekking point of view, most of the Kashmir is unexplored. Don’t wait for JK Tourism department to identify new trekking places for you. At your own move forward and with the help of local hill dwellers find new places. Share pics with the help of social media and bring them to light. People usually visit only those lakes which are known to everyone for centuries. As we know the Kashmir valley is situated between Greater Himalayas and Lesser Himalayas(Pir Panjal Range). Both greater and lesser Himalayas are dotted by a large number of beautiful lakes. Among them, only a few are known to us. Rest of them are beyond the reach of common people. I think JK tourism department can’t flourish at its own if we don’t take an active part in it. We must encourage this department to approve new treks for us.
Most of the people in Kashmir don’t love trekking. They usually go for a ‘day picnic’ and come back home in the evening. Day picnic is famous in Kashmir. A small number of people prefer to stay for a night or two. For the last four-five years, the youth of Kashmir is fond of visiting high altitude lakes. But this year due to lockdown highest no of people visited mountains. To encourage people especially youth for making trekking a part of life here I suggest to take note of a few things.
Things that prevent Kashmiri youth to go for the outing:
- We are restricted by the political situation in JK (which get worse with every passing day). It does not allow the youth of Valley to go for trekking. The issues of insecurity is a primary cause that prevents youth to go anywhere.
- Spending nights outside the network zone without any communication adds worries to our parents. They develop many assumptions until the safe return of their children. Other than the concern of wild animals they fear that Army or Militants might not harm their children.
- Another thing that prevents youth is the conservative nature of there parents who want them to see every time stick to books. To them, every recreational activity other than studying is a waste of time. I think they have forgotten the famous proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” which they used to teach their children in childhood. Our parents don’t want us to get busy with two-three projects at a time. To them, studies and trekking don’t go together.
- The life in Kashmir is too dull. There is a little scoop for recreational things. People usually hate those things that don’t give them name and fame. Everything that hinders there growth they hate it.
Things that people need while going for Hiking:
- While planning your trip in Kashmir make sure you are carrying an I-Card with you. Your identity should not be doubtful as you are trekking in the highly militarized zone of the world. There is no need to fear but you must carry a solid proof with you.
- The second and foremost thing is a tent. Without it, one cannot plan a trek. Equally important is to have your own sleeping bag. To lit tent, one must not forget to carry a camping light with him. While walking in the wild you need a stick to make your journey comfortable. Either buy it or pick a stick on your way while you walk on the trail.
- Next thing is to fill your backpack. It is a very tough job. Tough in the sense that it should not exceed in weight. Weight management is a must. As you are going for trekking and you have to walk for days together. So be choosy while packing your bag. Don’t pack extra clothes, shoes or slippers. What you need is four T-Shirts( two half sleeves and two full sleeves), two-track pants, Sweater or fleece jacket, one pair of shoes and slippers, socks(2 pair), raincoat. You must have a hiking bag different from an ordinary one. Don’t buy an ordinary hiking bag. First, check its comfort level and then pay for it. As for where ever you go bag is going with you.
- The other accessories/gadgets you need are as follows- Power bank, head torch, water bottle, Sunshades/ sunglasses, Hat, gloves, first aid kit, etc.
- It is necessary to carry dry snacks such as biscuits and chocolates with you. Also, add some energy drinks to this list. One must carry ready to eat foods along with him. Soups, noodles, popcorn, and some frozen foods can save your time and efforts too. All these things get ready to serve in minutes.
- Your personal hiking part or toiletries must contain towel and napkins, toothpaste and toothbrush, soap and shampoo, sunscreen and moisturizer, hair oil and deodorant. You can also add many things according to your own needs.
- To capture memorable pictures and videos you also need DSLR, Go Pro or any other powerful camera. For a Vlogger it is impossible to skip these things.
- Don’t make use of disposable items for its polluting nature. Always carry a steel plate, steel cup and spoon with you.
- The last but most important thing is to carry a gas stove along with you. This is because the higher reaches of the valley is devoid of vegetation. The higher you go the thinner will be the forest cover. So at some height, you can’t find any firewood to cook your food. Don’t worry if you don’t have all these things. Only a few among them are most important. Also, you can make alternate arrangements for everything. But making your journey much comfortable and enjoyable you must need all these things.
By Syed Aamir Sharief Qadri
Syed Aamir Sharief Qadri is from the Indian State of J&K (now Union territory). He has completed post-graduation in History from the University of Kashmir and obtained an M.Phil. at Punjabi University, Patiala. Currently, he works as a freelance writer for different newspapers as a guest writer. His articles got published in many daily newspapers of Kashmir such as Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Life, Kashmir Pen, Kashmir Images, Kashmir Observer, Oracle Opinion, Kashmir Reader, Kashmir Horizon, Cafe Dissensus every day, etc. He writes poems in English as well as in Urdu. They too got published in many national and international Journals and Magazines. Also, he is a co-author of many Anthologies. Besides he is a regular blogger and owns his website.
Promote JK Tourism
JK is the best place for Trekking in the world.
The motivation behind writing this article is to encourage the youth of Kashmir to go for trekking. And search hidden jewels in mountains to contribute to the promotion of JK tourism.