Jashn-e-Gurez celebrations in Kashmir | CanIndia News


Situated in the young folds of the Himalayas, 123 km from Srinagar and 86 km from north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, Gurez Valley is situated at an elevation of 8,000 feet.

The quaint valley is something right from a fantasy land – it once was the doorway to the famous Silk Road from Europe to Kashgar in China.

Its dense forests, pastures, and flowering meadows rejuvenate the body and heal the soul. The locals are ethnic Dards Shin who live near the Burzil Pass, leading to Gilgit-Baltistan. The Kishanganga river flows through the valley in quiet syllables.

Since April this year, more than 5,000 tourists have visited Gurez, thanks to the continuous efforts of civil and army administration.

The tourists’ attraction along the Line of Control has been such that the government has raised infrastructures in the area to meet their demands.

The Army has also inaugurated a view-point on border village of Chorwan along with Kashmir’s first windmill to reduce carbon footprint and financial impact on the government. It’s also an excellent solution to the power crisis in Gurez.

This month the sun has really shined upon the Gurez valley. The locals have set up tented accommodations and homestays for the tourists who are eager to visit this lesser-known gem of J&K, which was recently opened up to the world by the Centre. The developmental work here is a part of the ’75 new destinations’ initiative under the banner of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’. Gurez remains closed from the world for six months of the winter, so the remaining six summer months are being heavily promoted.

Jashn-e-Gurez, the annual Gurez Festival is a two-week celebrations to promote and celebrate this unique Kashmiri jewel. It is organized by the Army in collaboration with the District Administration Bandipora and Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department.

This year the festivities began with an inter-village cricket tournament with 18 teams across the valley, including a team from the Army and JK Police. Bike and cycle rallies, marathons, treks, canoeing, among others, were a part of the festival that aims to highlight Gurez as an offbeat adventure tourism destination in pristine surroundings. Water sports, Zorbing, and ATVs are the upcoming attractions much anticipated.

A Mega Sports and Dard Shin Festival was organized as part of the Jashn-e-Gurez Festival from June 7-12.

The youth and children across the valley were trained in three new sports – Rugby, Pencak Silat, and Wushu.

Such events are breeding grounds for budding sportspersons. Food and handicrafts stalls and souvenir shops were also set up along with a free medical check-up camp.

The Dard Shin festival memorialised the rich culture of the Dard-Shin tribe of Gurez through musical nights – the tribe’s official introduction to mainland India. More than 2,500 locals, officials of the Indian Army, BSF, CISF JKP, district administration, and tourists participated in the event.

The Administration is propagating the idea of ​​homestays and tents to preserve the ecological balance and for greater enjoyment of Gurez’s scenic beauty. Industry leaders like MakeMyTrip and Goibibo are offering online bookings. The homestays will mean an additional source of income for locals and a personalized, raw experience with the culture and lifestyle for the tourists — a win-win situation for all. The booking, execution, and standardization of services in homestays are being supervised by the Tourism Department.

Due to this, the employment opportunities for the local youth are multi-fold now. Tourism and Skill Development Department are teaching the local youth the skills of tourist trade and hospitality.

The Mountain Agricultural Research and Extension Station (MAR&ES) of SKUAST-Kashmir at Izmarg-Gurez has established a separate Krishi Vigyan Kendra for Gurez valley that will be working on the revival of the heritage crops like Kala Zeera, Buckwheat, Potatoes, and Gurez local Pea. SKUAST is trying to convert Gurez’s farmland into an organic zone with high credibility, given the clean soil and atmosphere. Agriculture will be upgraded through new technology and equipment.

In a three-day public outreach program that concluded on June 18, BJP senior leader Darakhshan Andrabi took stock of the ground realities of the implementation of the Centre’s schemes and welfare programs in the Gurez valley.

Schemes such as the Ujjwala Yojna aimed to provide LPG connections to poverty struck areas have transformed the kitchens of this valley. Brochures containing information on the welfare schemes implemented in J&K were distributed so more people can apply and reap their benefits.

In the last eight years, Gurez has witnessed immense economic activity and basic communication infrastructure, a feat uncommon for the border and tribal regions of the country.

Gurez has always stood with the border force and against the outside elements that have wished harm for the nation. The people have increased faith in the government post the COVID times.

During the pandemic, free ration, free vaccination, and the golden card health initiative pulled the poor out of the tough times. Rural entrepreneurship has a huge scope in Gurez and that is next on the government’s agenda.

At the first scientific advisory committee meeting of Gurez earlier this month, the need to prioritize Gurez’s food and nutritional security was discussed.

Farming difficulties, post-harvest management of potatoes, low remunerative values ​​of sheep to the farmer, the need for skill up-gradation and training of rural youth, vegetable preservation, exploration and propagation of medicinal and aromatic plants, sericulture, mushroom cultivation, among others, were the main topics concerns for authorities. If all goes according to the plan, Gurez will top the charts as the most tranquil place in Kashmir.

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