A three nights, four days visit to Kashmir between 14-17th October has been quite revealing. Belying the refrain of many that it is not safe to visit at this time, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was an impressive turnout of tourists in this magnificent and picturesque region. The airport was swarming. Tourists looked happy and normal. The hotels were pretty much full. In fact, the rooms at the high-end Lalit we're going for a premium.
There is a new addition in Srinagar -- an opulent laser-guided colourful musical fountain and a nice cruise on the Dal Lake adjacent the International Convention Centre. The scenic Royal Springs golf course is very well maintained with a turnout of a reasonable average 100 players a day. There is a clear scope for being handled bu private professional golf companies. A visit to the beautiful Dachigam Wildlife Park is a revelation about the immense possibilities for nature tourism. The Hangul --sixteen horned deer -- is found only here. It's like a robust mountain goat and has no problem scaling and existing at heights above 10000 feet. Pahalgam,land of the pahredars or shepherds is mesmerising. The Pine and Peak is a beautiful outique hotel run under ITC supervision, but there are others too. The Pahalgam golf course takes the cake for being scenic, tranquil and breathtakingly spectacular.
The Kashmir Infrastructure today is decent. The emphasis of the State appears clearly to be to generate new opportunities for employment. Private participation in government assets is on the anvil. Clearly, things have improved and become better each day. If only our neighbouring countries focused on their own developmental problems rather than finding refuge elsewhere