Experts believe that if Bangus valley is promoted in a proper way it can attract tourists across the globe and can generate employment for thousands of unemployed youth of Kashmir. There is unparalleled potential of adventure tourism, sports tourism, trekking, water rafting, skiing, skating, rock climbing, snowboarding, paragliding, Heli-Skiing, Golf, and Polo.
By: Tahir Majeed
The bowl shaped meadows having immense beauty, heart throbbing landscapes Bangus Valley is situated 125 Kms away from Summer Capital, Srinagar at an altitude of 10,000 meters above sea level in frontier District Kupwara and to the west of Handwara Town at Latitude of 34° 22’ 52’’N and Longitude 74° 04’ 12’’E.
The vale of Bangus is surrounded by snow capped lofty mountains of Himalayan Shamasbari range and on the other side is Leepa and Neelum Valley of Pakistan Administered Kashmir. Carrying lush green meadows, majestic pines and Deodar Trees the Bangus Valley harbours different species of flora and fauna. The valley comprises of Greater Bangus (BoadBangus) and Lesser Bangus (LokutBangus). Greater Bangus is spread over the vastness of Mawar Area and Lesser Bangus is situated to the North of Greater Bangus. It has remained untouched to the influx of thousands of tourists visiting Kashmir valley due to it’s strategic location close to the Line Of Control diving Pakistani Administered Kashmir and UT of J&K. Now the Government has finally introduced this valley to the Whole World and is keek to develop it. Brought recently on tourist map serves as a soothing experience for a very few nature lovers who could manage a trip to the valley as the road connectivity has not entered into final stage and nature lovers have to travel through a very difficult terrain. The valley lacks basic facilities like guest houses, restaurants, healthcare facilities, and other important facilities without which night stay for the tourists in the valley can prove fatal. The only hope for any visitor who faces any difficulty like rain hail storms or any wildlife attacks is the unit of Indian army’s situated in Bangus Valley.
Researchers and travellers well versed with the terrain of Bangus Valley have revealed that the valley is a home for near about 24 medicinal herbs like Gul-i-Khatmi (Botanical Name: LavateraKashmirana) VopalHakh (Botanical Name: Dipsacusinermis) and Mahan (Aconitum Napellus) and 36 other flowering herbs like Forget-me-not (Myositis/Cynoglossum) and Columbine (Botanical Name Aquilegia Vulgaris) and Pheasant’s Eye (Adonis Aestivialis). An author of a research paper has mentioned all the species in his publication in detail. Detailed revelations of about 23 species of Trees excluding 5 species of Shrubs and climbers has been made . The valley is also rich in different species of Fungi and other kinds of Herbs like Neel Thuth(Copper Sulphate)Atties (Patries) and Wan Pran (Forest Onion)etc. If properly looked into this wealth can bring revolutions in medical sciences. The valley sheltered Markhor(Capra falconeri) in Kaji-nag Mountain, and shelters Musk Deer and many other wildlife species like Jackal, Fox, Langur, Bear, Wolf and Leopard.
Sports and boarder Tourism Potential:
Experts believe that if bangus valley is promoted in a proper way it can attract tourists across the globe and can generate employment for thousands of unemployed youth of Kashmir. There is unparalleled potential of adventure tourism, sports tourism, trekking, water rafting, skiing, skating, rock climbing, snowboarding, paragliding, Heli-Skiing, Golf, and Polo. The valley can prove to be the best destination in the world for carrying diverse potential to provide comfort for the mankind as the valley is not merely a tourist destination but have enough resources and potential to attract people belonging to all walks of life.
Since Bangus is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna, streams, meadows and peaks there needs to an environmental protection policy in place to prevent any degradation and threat to this ecosystem. It has been observed that travelers visiting the valley are seen carrying object hazardous such as Polyethylene, Plastic Bottles, and food items enveloped with hazardous covers pose threat to the environment and ecosystem of the valley. Awareness must be carried on to reduce plastic usage and spread awareness among the visitors related to the environment. Conscious citizen and activist Dr Fida Firdous informed that he has brought such issues into the notice of District Magistrate Kupwara recently and is hopeful that environmental issue will be redressed by the administration.
Promotion of the Bangus Valley The media has a crucial role to play in putting emerging destinations like Bangus Valley.The relationship between Bangus Valley Tourism and Media is vital. Tourism is dependent on media reporting. The valley has been not given coverage it deserves, however local media persons of Handwara area and Kupwara area have played a satisfactory role to highlight the beauty of Bangus and attract the public attention towards this destination. Thousands of Social media users have played an outstanding role to showcase the beauty of Bangus valley and these social media users have become link between common masses who are unaware about the Bangus Valley. These social media users have succeeded in creating awareness about the valley. The social media users voluntarily guide those who want to visit Bangus valley . During our visit to the valley we saw tourists from Maharashtra in meadows of Bangus Valley who were guided by local social media users. Government need to run an extensive information campaign through media houses to introduce the Bangus valley before the world.
What needs to be done:
a) Establishment of separate Bangus Valley Development Authority.
b) Setting up of tourist reception and information centres in summer capital Srinagar, Handwara and Kupwara.
c) Construction of Hotels and Guest Houses at Qalamabad, Handwara, Zachaldara, Kupwara and Chowkibal
d) Internet and Mobile calling facility in Bangus and and setting up of Helpline.
e) Establishment of Police Station, Healthcare facility, Traffic police unit, Disaster management cell, Drinking water facility, Electricity facilities and other basic utilities.
How to Reach Bangus Valley:
Visitors can reach into the meadows of Bangus valley through three routes (a) Handwara- Mawar- Reshwari Road, (b)Handwara-Rajwar Road and from (c) Kupwara-Chowkibal, All these approaching roads are under-construction and one has to travel by foot a few hundred meters to reach into the meadows of Bangus, however Off-road Vehicles have started entering into Bangus through MawerRishwari Side. For light motor vehicles and cars having low ground clearance cannot make it to reach to the destination as two kilometres road is not fit to welcome such vehicles. From Rajwar side of Handwara road to Bangus is also under construction and is expected to be completed within short span of time. Similarly from Kupwara-Chowkibal side Bangus can be approached after a few meters walk.
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