With no visitors to be found in the famous Naseem Bagh campus of the University of Kashmir, where the falling Chinar leaves announce the onset of winters, there is growing apprehension of a dull tourist season.
The Naseem Bagh Campus, whose autumn beauty in the past has inspired Bollywood directors to shoot here, remains deserted. All bookings for the autumn season stand cancelled and many Hollywood crews which were scheduled to shoot in Kashmir, especially at Naseem Bagh and at Sonamarg, the meadow of gold, have chosen other destinations due to unrest.
Bone chilling winter that is about to set in is preceded by no major sporting event. Barring a single Autumn Golf Tournament held at the Royal Springs Golf Course by the state Tourism Department last week, there has been no tourism in sight despite efforts by some travel agents and the Tourism Department.
Similarly, the Mughal Gardens on the banks of Dal Lake wear a deserted look. In the famous Shalimar Garden, the gates are closed and no visitors are to be seen. In Shalimar Garden, where the famous Zubin Mehta held his concert a few years back with the help of the German embassy, festivities are missing. The Zubin Mehta concert had increased the tourist footfall in this garden but this autumn seems to be totally wasted. With no tourist season and not much income coming in from the horticulture season, this year’s autumn has only brought depression for Kashmiris.
The education scenario has also virtually stopped in the valley despite J&K Governor’s appeal to start classes and other activities to make up for the loss in academic days due to the unrest. Departments in the University of Kashmir and centres like J&K State Resource Centre responsible for adult literacy programmes stand locked, with no activities in the past five months.
Meanwhile, the season’s first snowfall was reported in the upper reaches of Gurez Valley and areas in Drass and Zanskar of Kargil and Ladakh, ending a spell of continued dry weather in Kashmir and Ladakh.