Aharbal Waterfall Draws Over 2 Lakh Visitors in 6 Months

Sheikhzada Daniyal
4 Min Read

Surge in Tourist Arrivals at Aharbal

Aharbal, a picturesque destination in Kashmir known as the “Niagara of Kashmir”, has witnessed a remarkable influx of over 2 lakh visitors in the first six months of 2024. This figure represents a significant increase compared to previous years, indicating the growing popularity of this scenic locale.

Surge in Tourism and Decline in Terrorism After Revocation of Article 370

One of the most significant benefits of the revocation of Article 370 has been the surge in tourism and the decline in terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. Prior to the abrogation, the region was plagued by frequent strikes, stone-pelting incidents, and violence, which severely impacted the tourism industry and public life. However, in the four years since the revocation, the situation has transformed dramatically.

Official data reveals that not a single civilian was killed in protests or clashes with security forces in the last four years, compared to 124 such deaths in the three years preceding the abrogation. This restored peace and normalcy has encouraged a remarkable increase in tourist arrivals. In 2022, Jammu and Kashmir received a record 1.88 crore tourists, and the administration expects this number to cross the 2 crore mark this year. The region is now attracting not just honeymooners, but also long-married couples seeking to celebrate their anniversaries in the picturesque Kashmir valley.

Furthermore, the security situation has improved significantly, with a considerable decline in the recruitment of locals into militancy and the killing of terrorists by security forces. In 2023, only 35 militants were killed, compared to over 120 in the same period last year. The number of active militants has also been reduced to double digits, a stark contrast to the past. This enhanced security environment has been crucial in facilitating the restoration of administrative control and the implementation of developmental projects worth thousands of crores of rupees in the Union Territory.

Breakdown of Visitor Demographics

According to official data, the visitor breakdown is as follows: 2,02,428 local residents, 26,650 domestic tourists, and 143 foreign visitors. The monthly visitor count shows a steady rise, with 3,655 visitors in January, 19,559 in February, 7,726 in March, 25,750 in April, 19,610 in May, and a record-breaking 152,921 arrivals in June.

Tourists’ Perspectives

Tourists from various parts of the country have expressed their delight in visiting Aharbal. Reenu Sharma, a visitor from Delhi, described the waterfall as a unique and refreshing experience, praising the chilled water and the serene atmosphere. Another tourist remarked on the blessings of visiting Kashmir and the impressive nature of Aharbal, vowing to return and recommend the destination to others.

Locals’ Observations

Local visitors, such as Mushtaq Ahmad, have noted the surge in tourist numbers, which they believe is a positive sign for the local economy. However, they have also highlighted the need for the authorities to enhance the tourism infrastructure at Aharbal to make it an all-season destination and further capitalize on its natural beauty.

Official Reactions Regarding Aharbal

Ghalib Mohiuddin Shah, the Chief Executive Officer of the Aharbal Development Authority, has acknowledged the significant increase in tourist arrivals, both domestic and foreign. He has stated that additional infrastructure is being developed to cater to the growing number of visitors. Several administrative steps are being taken to make Aharbal an even more attractive destination.

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