Gurez, an ethnically distinct region in northern Kashmir’s Bandipora district, possesses out of the ordinary beauty: Roaring rivulets, snowy mountain tops, lush landscape, murmuring streams, and thick cloud curtain.
Gurez is a slender valley with heart-throbbing scenes of hills, streams and the famous Neelum (Kishanganga) river.
The picturesque valley in August bagged the best offbeat destination award at an award function organised by ‘Outlook Traveller Magazine’ in Delhi.
“Credit goes to the hard-working officials and especially to the young volunteers and entrepreneurs for creating such a tourist friendly environment within a short span of time,” Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Owais Ahmad Ahmad, had tweeted soon after the award was announced.
In his book ‘The Valley of Kashmir’, Sir Walter Roper Lawerance referred to Gurez valley as one of the most beautiful scenes of Kashmir.
The administration has been working very hard to bring this quirky tourist destination on the tourism map of J&K. It has been relentlessly working to highlight the tourism potential of Gurez to attract tourists to this part of the Kashmir Valley, which remained unknown and unheard for tourists from across India.
With the constant efforts of the civil administration as well as the Indian Army, around 0.4 million tourists have visited the Gurez valley since the summer of 2021.
Ajaz Ahmad Dar, a local resident, said that efforts of the Indian Army played a significant role in drawing tourists to this destination.
He said that the 9-Rajput, an Army unit, which came to Gurez valley in 2019, played a major role in the promotion of tourism in the region.
Dar said they invited social media influencers to highlight the beauty and tourism potential of Gurez in order to attract more and more tourists. The launch of 4G mobile and data services in the area also played a key role in the promotion of tourism in the area, he added.
Prior to 2018, the only mode of communication available for the people of Gurez was provided by a single transceiver tower of BSNL in Dawar that ran a few landline telephones.
The celebration of Gurez festival, in which locals from Gurez besides travel agents, students and adventure enthusiasts from other parts of the Valley participate, has proved instrumental in highlighting the tourism potential and beauty of the valley.
The event got very good coverage from media, which in turn attracted scores of visitors to explore the Gurez valley. The event was a good effort by the administration to promote off-beat destinations and bring Gurez on the tourism map, said Bashir Ahmad Teroo, a local.
Gurez, besides having alluring landscape and very rich culture, has enormous potential for adventure activities like trekking, white-water rafting, and mountain biking and camping.
The picturesque valley has now emerged as a favourite tourist destination, attracting scores of visitors from the country and abroad.
The average temperature of Gurez valley remains lower than the rest of Bandipora district. In the summer season, the weather is pleasant and the maximum temperature is around 25-degree Celsius, while it gets quite cold at night. However, in winters, the temperature drops to as low as -10-degree Celsius.
Irshad Samoon, another local and a social activist, said, “We feel happy with healthy footfall of tourists in the Gurez valley. The increase in tourism activity contributes to our economy and provides employment to the people. Over the years, tourism has grown in Gurez valley. However, we need to do more work on tourism infrastructure and other facilities to attract more tourists to Gurez.”