Monday, May 11, 2009

Dipping May temperature makes Kashmir ideal tourist destination

As scorching summer heat turns fatal leaving many people dead elsewhere in the country, the unbelievably pleasant temperatures in May this year has made Kashmir valley ideal tourist destination. 
“I have been in Srinagar for three days only and the weather has just blown me away. Heaven has descended on earth here and I would like to stay longer to escape heat wave back home”, said a riveted Mr. Ashwini Kumar, a tourist from New Delhi, enjoying a panoramic view of Srinagar city from Pari Mahal, on the Zabarwan hillock overlooking the Dal lake. 
The pressure-cooker heat in country plains and down south where day temperatures have even touched 47 degrees, almost 4 degrees higher than normal, should be incentive enough for travelers to converge on the picturesque Himalayan valley and enjoy its breathtaking beauty. The day temperature recorded in the summer capital was only 21.4 degrees Celsius yesterday while as night temperature was recorded at 11.8 degrees Celsius.  
Visitors have been quick to notice pleasant temperature that freshens up the serenity of exotic Valley locales. “I was in Pahalgam last week. There was a hint of winter in the air. I mean where else would you experience this kind of weather at this time of the year”, said Mr. Rupesh Vidyarthi, another visitor from Mumbai, looking much heavier than his frail frame in a pullover and jacket on top. 
The famous health resort of Gulmarg, 45 km from here, is the natural destination for people fighting scorching heat in the plains. Mr. Rakesh Mutreja from Chennai, who arrived at Gulmarg along with eight members of his family yesterday, said that he couldn’t believe the temperature would be so pleasant. Compared to the mercury as it has risen to unbearable level back home, it was like being in paradise, he said, adding that Kashmir’s atmosphere is simply wonderful. “Gulmarg has really fascinated me”, he said. Another visitor, Mr. Anil Singhi from Surat, Gujarat, who came to Kashmir after 30 years along with his family, said that summer heat was unbearable in Surat which left him with no option but to “take some days off in paradise on earth”. “The trip to Kashmir is worth taking’, he said, pointing to the sweltering heat in the rest of the country.
A first-timer in Kashmir, Ms. Saroj from Chennai, has similar experience to narrate. She is too happy to be away from the heat and sweat and fervently walks up and down the lush meadows of Gulmarg to make most of her visit.  
On dip in temperature, the meteorology department says that this is no aberration as frequent weak westerlies that result in light rains bring the mercury down. “Also, northerly winds prevail over the region at this time making the weather cool”, said Mr. Sonam Lotus, In-charge Director, India Meteorological Department here.  
In a bid to fully tap tourism potential, the Tourism Department has introduced a plethora of events like adventure trekking, nature safaris and camps and bonfires to attract tourists to the Valley. The government is also planning to set up campsites at a number of new identified places where nature lovers would be able to enjoy the scenic beauty. Around 22 Tourism Development Authorities at new locales have been created to evenly spread the flow of tourists in the State. 
The government has also struck novelty by dovetailing tourism with culture to attract a totally different league of traveler-researchers to the State. In fact, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has been combined and is headed by one Minister.  
As summer approaches and temperature dips, Kashmir valley braces itself for tourists offering them affordable packages and enchanting places to cool off before they return to swim in their own sweats.