Betaab Valley in Pahalgam attracts foreign, domestic visitors in large numbers despite ‘less facilities’

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Visitors shower praises on natural beauty of place; Valley set for major revamp, musical fountain, upgradation of cafeteria, existing huts on cards: CEO PDA

Abid Bashir

 As Kashmir witnesses tourism boom with foreign tourist arrivals also showing a significant increase this year, Betaab Valley at Pahalgam tourist resort is luring both domestic as well as foreign tourists in large numbers of late.

Betaab Valley is famous for the shooting of yesteryear’s super hit Bollywood movie ‘Betaab’ starring Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh. The movie was shot in 1983 at the sprawling meadows surrounded by gushing streams, three kilometers from Pahalgam town. With tourist influx showing a huge surge in Kashmir, tourists visiting Picturesque Pahalgam ensure that they also visit Betaab Valley.

A group of tourists from Punjab, who had come to Kashmir for the first time, while sharing their experience with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) said that they had a lot of “misconceptions about Kashmir and its beauty due to the negative publicity in various national news channels.” “Some two years ago, we would not have even imagined visiting Kashmir. There was no word like Kashmir in our travel plans. This year, we decided to visit the place and feel the natural beauty,” said Preetam Kour, a woman tourist from Punjab, while speaking to this correspondent at Betaab Valley, Pahalgam.

“This is where the Betaab movie was shot and today we were at the exact spot. There is beauty all over. Gushing streams, milky water, tall mountains, tall pine trees and sprawling meadows are breathtaking. One doesn’t want to leave this place. This is indeed a paradise,” she said as other members of her group seconded her. She said that this time their trip was just for five days but given the beauty of Betaab Valley, they will come again and spend at least a night in the Valley.

Kour, however, complained that there was just one single tourist hut which was insufficient to accommodate tourists wishing to stay for a night or two at the Valley. “Tourism department or the Pahalgam Development Authority should take immediate steps to build infrastructure at Betaab Valley on priority to accommodate more tourists,” she said.

A foreign tourist from Singapore, while speaking to KNO at Betaab Valley, showered praises on the natural beauty of the place but expressed serious concern over the poor infrastructure in place. “I wish we had this beauty in Singapore, we would have invested on a large scale to promote it on all fronts. This has a great potential to attract foreigners. One can go for trekking, horse riding, and other adventure tourism related activities like water rafting,” he said, adding that “I wonder why this place hasn’t been promoted and why there is no infrastructure available for foreign tourists.”

As a group of local tourists were preparing traditional salt tea popularly known as “noon chai” on a gas stove in the open, tourists from Maharashtra got attracted towards and started inquiring about the tea. “Can we have a cup of pink tea,” asked Tarun who was leading a group of eight family members including kids. He praised the hospitality of Kashmir and after enjoying the cup of salt tea, he said: “I have never tasted such a tea. This is amazing…”

He also rued lack of facilities at Betaab Valley. “There is just natural beauty and no other facilities for tourists. Washrooms are very far and resting places aren’t visible anywhere,” he said. “There should be lodges and guest houses so that one could stay there for a few nights.” Tarun and other group members expressed concern over RS 100 entry ticket stating that “the amount is too much.”

Talking to KNO exclusively, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) PDA Tariq Hussain Naik said that Betaab Valley is all set for a major revamp and next year tourists will see a different valley altogether.

“We may cut down the entry fee from next year. Drainage facilities will also be improved at the Betaab Valley. A musical fountain will be placed there and the existing cafeteria will be upgraded while existing infrastructure will be renovated and new infrastructure will be put in place to attract more tourists,” Naik said. “Auctioning and tendering will be done in a transparent manner and you will see a new Betaab Valley next year.”

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