Kashmir’s long wait for tourists

| Updated on April 10, 2020

The Covid-19 lockdown has dealt another blow to Kashmir's main source of income

The novel coronavirus has taken another victim — it has robbed Kashmir of a chance to bounce back to life through tourism. The nationwide lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the isolation that Kashmir has been experiencing since August 5, 2019 — when the Centre scrapped its special status under the Constitution of India. Some restrictions imposed then have been eased, but with no tourists coming in, the Valley looks forlorn.

On March 15, when I landed in Srinagar, the airport was a scene of hectic activity. Every incoming passenger was being tested with thermal scanners, apart from being asked to furnish details of recent travel history.

The following day, I drove up to Gulmarg, which is a favourite among skiers across the world. The snowy slopes here wore a deserted look as did the iconic cable cars that ferry tourists to the highest point in Gulmarg.

Back in Srinagar, I found that every tourist attraction — parks and gardens, museums, places of worship and so on — had been sealed. Even the shikaras on the tranquil Dal Lake had no takers. Only a handful of souvenir shops were open for business.

Kamal Narang



Published on April 10, 2020

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