Kashmir Scan August 2014
Now Gurez is on the tourism map, so is Lolab valley. The beautiful Bungus valley is on the tourism map, so is Doodh-e-Pathri but Pampore continues to be ignored. Faisul Yaseen tries to find out why.
The government has been bringing almost every place in Kashmir on the tourism map of the State. Now Gurez is on the tourism map, so is Lolab valley. The beautiful Bungus valley is on the tourism map, so is Doodh-e-Pathri. While these far-flung places are attracting the interest of tourists and the tourism department, other more accessible places, which have a far greater potential of tourism are being ignored.
One such place is Pampore, which is situated on the eastern bank of Jhelum in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Pampore is known for the production of world’s costliest spice, Saffron.
Saffron, a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus or saffron crocus, an autumn-flowering perennial plant species of crocus in the family Iridaceous, is known for its utility in medicines and household use, particularly cooking.
It is one of the most popular ingredients for colouring and flavouring popular Kashmir sweet tea – Kehwa, butter, cheese, medicines and various dishes of Wazwan, the multi-course Kashmir cuisine.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his August 12 visit to the cold desert region of Ladakh promised saffron revolution in Jammu and Kashmir and said saffron cultivation would be given a big boost in the State.
“A new unit for saffron will be established in Spices Development Board for this purpose,” he said in Leh.
Pampore is also home to 12th century cave where famous Sufi saint of Kashmir, Sheikh Nooruddin Wali prayed. It also houses an ancient Hindu temple at Laddu, Chandrahar or Chandhaur, the ancestral village of 16th century Kashmiri mystic-poet and ascetic Habba Khatoon, who is also known as ‘Nightingale of Kashmir’.
Pampore also houses Lal Ded Memorial in memory of a 14th century mystic poet Lal Ded or Lalleshwari whose earliest compositions in Kashmiri language are an important part in history of Kashmiri literature. Lal Ded is known to have inspired some of the later Sufis of Kashmir.
Pampore is known for being home to the 19th century Sufi poet Abdul Wahab Khaar. Khaar was born at Khrew Shaar, Pampore.
Pampore is also known for a golden-dome shrine housing the joint tomb of Khawaja Masood Wali, and Hazrat Sheikh Shariffudin.
Talking to Kashmir Scan, Minister for Tourism, Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the government had already started promoting Pampore and saffron fields of Pampore were on the posters and brochures of the Tourism department.
He said the Tourism department had organized a Saffron Festival last year and was planning another such festival this autumn.
“We are trying to internationalize the saffron bloom of Pampore,” Mir said. “Last year, hundreds of tourists visited those saffron fields.”
He said the three main focuses of autumn as one of the four seasons of Kashmir was crimson red leaves of Chinar trees of Kashmir, fruit plucking in orchards of the Valley, and saffron fields of Pampore.
Kashmir valley has a unique distinction of having its monopoly in saffron production in entire India although Saffron is native to Greece, Spain and Iran and was first cultivated in Greece.
While Iran accounts for about 80 percent of total world production of Saffron, the quality of the Kashmir saffron is considered the best.
In Kashmir too, it is only the karevas of Pampore and the Kishtwar valley that are gifted with the rare spice.
Researchers in Mexico studying the effect of saffron on cancerous cells found that Kashmir saffron had higher quantity of crocin than in saffron from other places. The carotenoid, crocin imparts saffron a bio-medicinal value and its presence in more quantity adds value to the world’s costliest spice.
Director Tourism, Talat Parvez told Kashmir Scan that the Tourism department had surveyed the tourism potential of Pampore and found a number of places in the region could be projected as tourist destinations.
“Initially, we will be showcasing Shahar Shali, a saffron-producing village of Pampore, where tourists can see the original harvest in saffron fields,” he said.
Parvez said that the Tourism department had acquired a 5 kanal plot where it would develop its infrastructure and where tourist operators could get all the information of the tourist destinations in the area.
“We are also developing a Shikaragah as an adventure tourism spot wherefrom adventure tourists can go on the Tarsar Marsar Lake trek,” he said.
The director tourism also said his department would soon showcase the Lal Ded Memorial, Habba Khatoon’s ancestral village Chandrahar, and Abdul Wahab Khaar’s ancestral village Khrew Shaar in a phased manner.
Parvez said that the Tourism department would also promote twin religious tourist spots like the 12th century cave where Sufi saint, Sheikh Nooruddin Wali prayed and Laddu temple, which is an archaeological site now.
Director Tourism, Talat Parvez
Initially Shahar Shali, a saffron-producing village of Pampore will be showcasing, where tourists can see the original harvest in saffron fields.
The department had acquired a 5 kanal plot to develop infrastructure where tourist operators could get all the information of the tourist destinations in the area.
Shikaragah will be developed as adventure tourism spot wherefrom adventure tourists can go on the Tarsar Marsar Lake trek.
The department would soon showcase the Lal Ded Memorial, Habba Khatoon’s ancestral village Chandrahar, and Abdul Wahab Khaar’s ancestral village Khrew Shaar in a phased manner.
The Tourism department would also promote twin religious tourist spots like the 12th century cave where Sufi saint, Sheikh Nooruddin Wali prayed and Laddu temple, which is an archaeological site now.”