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April 30, 2012

Nagin Valley reopens for tourists after 22 years

     Botpathri (Gulmarg): Out of bounds for tourists, trekkers and locals for 22 years, the picturesque Nagin Valley on the 10-km serpentine stretch of Gulmarg-Bota Pathri road is now back on the tourist map of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) as an eco-tourism destination aimed to decongest Gulmarg. “The valley will offer new and untouched terrain to the tourist and best camping site for trekkers,” Minister for Tourism and Culture, Nawang Rigzan Jora told media recently. Expressing satisfaction over the tourist inflow, Jora said the valley is expecting more footfalls this year. “Last year, around 15 lakh tourists visited Kashmir , and this year, we are expecting more,” he said. Minister of State for Tourism Nasir Aslam Wani informed that Gulmarg has already hosted arrivals beyond its capacity, which prompted the opening of Bota Pathri for tourists. “The opening up of Bota Pathri shall help in dissemination of economic benefits to the grass root tourist service providers of the area and help in their economic upliftment,” he added, while stressing on the need to maintain cleanliness in the area to save the “ecologically fragile” valley. The towering mountain peaks that surround Nagin to its south are the last patches of land before the Line of Control, located barely five kms away. The tourism department organised a ceremony, where they formally announced the opening of Bota Pathri for the tourists, on Monday. Army men and several tourists also participated in the ceremony. "We had come to Srinagar, and we arrived here by chance for the opening Nagin (Bota Pathri). I think it's beautiful, it's beyond imagination. What we had once heard in childhood that this is heaven on earth, it is a proven fact. It is beautiful. Sometimes it rains, sometimes there is the sun, and it is beyond explanation. It is from the heart, you cannot explain it," said Pawan Mirchandani, a tourist. Bota Pathri, which is situated merely nine kilometres from Gulmarg bore the brunt of militancy. However, with the improvement in the situation and dip in militancy in the area, tourism would revive in the state.
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