Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti today said the Government will create productive infrastructure in the tourism sector in Shahr-e-Khaas to promote the historic Old City of Srinagar as a cherished religious and heritage tourism destination. She said the Tourism Department has been tasked to formulate a comprehensive proposal in this regard.
“Rs 100 crore out of Rs 80000 crore Prime Minister’s Development Package would be spent exclusively for building tourism infrastructure in Shahr-e-Khaas in tune with its distinct cultural heritage,” the Chief Minister said while interacting with people during her extensive tour of various Old City areas including Makhdoom Sahab, Nowhatta, Rainawari, Kathidarwaza, Chatti Padshahi, Babademb and Khanyar this morning.
Chief Minister said the tourism promotion programme for Shahr-e-Khaas would include development of recreational facilities like parks, parking areas, heritage sites, guest houses, restaurants, libraries, reading rooms, food streets and interpretation centres to attract tourists to the heart of the city. She said the development of various facilities around revered religious places in the Old City would also constitute a part of the tourism promotion programme.
The Chief Minister paid obeisance at the shrine of Sultan-ul-Aarifeen Sheikh Hamza Makhdoomi (RA) and took stock of the facilities available there for the devotees and the local residents. She also took on the spot review of the development works going on in the shrine complex.
The Chief Minister offered prayers for the peace and prosperity of the State and interacted with the devotees and the Mujavirs at the shrine.
Expressing dismay over the heaps of garbage being dumped around the shrine, the Chief Minister asked Tourism Department and the Wakaf Board to landscape the area on the left side of the entry gate and develop it into a beautiful park. She also called for cleaning of the pond inside the shrine premises to make it attractive for the visitors.
Ms Mehbooba asked the District Administration Srinagar to formulate a plan of action for shifting of illegal settlements from around the Malkhah, which according to the locals have become a hub of criminal and anti-social activities.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the lackadaisical approach of the Wakaf Board in the proper maintenance of the shrine, the Chief Minister said she would soon convene a meeting of the Board to take a holistic review of its activities regarding development of shrines and other assets.
During her visit to Hari Parbhat Fort built in 1808 under the reign of Shuja Shah Durrani, the Chief Minister called for promoting the area as an exclusive tourist destination. She said pitched on a hillock in the middle of the city, the fort gives a birds-eye view of the whole Srinagar city. She called for developing facilities for tourists at the fort including a restaurant and other recreational facilities. She also called for cleaning of ponds inside the fort and keeping them humming with fresh water.
The Chief Minister visited the Interpretation Centre at the Base Station of the Makdoom Sahab ropeway project and called for making the restaurant inside the premises functional at the earliest. Stressing the need for proper maintenance of the premises, she also called for setting up a library and reading room in the area for the visitors as also creating other recreational facilities for the locals.
The Chief Minister also visited the temple of Sharika Devi located in the foothills of the fort and enquired about the facilities available there for the devotees. She also visited Gurudwara Chatti Padshahi located in the same area interacted with the devotees there.
During her visit to Babademb, the Chief Minister said the water body would be restored and it would be developed and promoted as a tourism spot in the Old City. She asked Secretary Tourism to formulate a plan for the development of the area in consonance with the heritage character of the Old City. She said a food street could be established around Babademb once the water body is restored.
Enroute, hundreds of people, especially the women met the Chief Minister at various places and apprised her of their problems. The Chief Minister assured them that their genuine grievances would be redressed on priority. She issues on spot directions in cases pertaining to drinking water and other facilities.
Interacting with people, the Chief Minister said Jammu and Kashmir has not only been gifted by God with unmatched scenic beauty, but it is considered a holy place by people from all faiths given the extended presence of revered religious places across the length and breadth of the State.
“Pitched in the backdrop of magnificent hills and hillocks, J&K’s religious places are not only thronged by locals but these are attracting many tourists as well,” the Chief Minister said.
She said the tourists visiting Jammu and Kashmir not only get to explore the State’s stunning landscapes, they also have the opportunity to get spiritually enriched by visiting these serene religious places. “Despite going through turbulent times in recent past, J&K continues to stand out as an epitome of amity,” she said and added that Hari Parbhat is one of the outstanding centres of the State’s unique secular ethos, where the shrine of renowned Sufi saint, Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom (RA), the Sharika Temple and Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara stand side by side giving an undiluted feeling of brotherhood.
“It is heartening to note that many visitors who come here as tourists and adventurers, go back as pilgrims after discovering the treasure of spirituality here,” Ms Mehbooba said and added that despite facing the most awful violence during the past more than two decades of turmoil, Jammu and Kashmir continues to uphold the supreme human values of amity and brotherhood.
Secretary Tourism, Farooq Ahmad Shah, District Development Commissioner Srinagar, Dr Farooq Ahmad Lone, DIG Central Kashmir Range, Ghulam Hassan Bhat, SSP Srinagar, Mr Amit Kumar, Director Tourism Kashmir, Mehmood Ahmad Shah, MD Cable Car Corporation, Shamim Ahmad and other officers of district administration and tourism department accompanied the Chief Minister.