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Bhaderwah upbeat as holiday-makers’ footfall surges

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Bhaderwah, Jul 07: A record 2.10 lakh tourists thronged this picturesque township in Doda district of Jammu region over 20 days, bringing joy and relief to the tourism players who were apprehensive of huge losses due to a slow start to the tourism season.

The high-altitude Padri Dhar, an enchanting meadow at 11,000 feet above sea level on interstate Bhaderwah-Chamba road and located at a distance of 49 km from here, has turned out to be the favourite destination of the visitors fleeing blistering heat back home.

“As many as 2.10 lakh tourists have visited Padri meadow from June 16 to July 05, which is a record of sorts, as last year we received 1.15 lakh visitors during this period. We even received as many as 22,000 tourists in a single day and right now, all hotels and guest houses are packed,” Bhadarwah Development Authority CEO Rajinder Khajuria said.

Bhaderwah is known as ‘mini-Kashmir’ for its resemblance with ‘paradise on earth’ but a communal flare-up followed by a week-long curfew in May caused a dent in efforts to attract large number of tourists to the mesmerising valley.

However, the early normalisation of the situation paved way for tourist arrivals, which started picking up from the middle of June.

“Visitors are thronging the meadows in large numbers as unprecedented rush in tourist arrival is being witnessed, making the otherwise calm meadows abuzz and overcrowded,” Khajuria said.

Besides Padri Dhar, popular destinations like Lake View resort, Jaie, Guldanda, Kheleeni, Chattargala and Herbal garden and small glaciers located en-route Bhaderwah-Chamba road are also attracting tourists.

At an average, over 10,000 tourists are arriving in the valley to enjoy the mundane beauty and pleasantly cool weather, hotelier Tariq Choudhary said, adding those associated with tourism industry were apprehending huge losses after witnessing almost negligible presence of holiday-makers in May, the start of the peak tourism season.

“There was hardly any visitor till June 10… But afterwards, the tourists started arriving in large numbers which came as a big relief for us,” Choudhary, who is also the president of tour and travel association, said blaming vested interests for creating trouble in the town.

Doda district was declared terrorism-free in 2004 and according to official figures, 1.15 lakh tourists visited the valley in 2017 and 2.21 in 2018.

“Bhaderwah is the best place to spend your hard-earned holidays. Not only is the place beautiful, but people here are very nice and helpful,” said Rakesh Mahajan, a tourist from Samba district.

Another tourist, Ritu Devi, said, “We are at Padri meadow and due to cool breeze, we are feeling the chill in July, which is unbelievable.

“We are enjoying our stay here and cannot get enough of this place, as it is like a fairy tale that we are playing with snow that too on roadside,” Devi, who is accompanied by her family, said.

Producer Chanchal Sarolavi, who is camping at Padri along with his team, had come to shoot a few sequences for his song-album but has decided to shoot the entire album after getting enchanted by the beauty of the region.

“We came here to shoot a few sequences of Himachali songs but the unparalleled beauty and mesmerising landscape has left us speechless and we have decided to stay back and shoot the entire album at Padri only,” Sarolavi, from Chamba, said.

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