Business picks up in Gulmarg with snowfall

Gulmarg, Jan 1:While people in the summer capital and other areas of the Valley are literally shivering in the cold, snow and chilling breeze has brought happiness to picturesque Gulmarg.
“Snow means life to us as it’s our only source of income in Winter,” says an elated Irfan Ahmad, 22, while taking a tourist for a ride on wooden sledge he pulls.
Irfan daily treks about 15 kilometers from Batu Tangamarg to earn his livelihood. “ For an hour I charge Rs 130 and if the tourists are happy after the ride they give me tip,” Irfan says.
Like Irfan, nearly 1,000 people are directly and indirectly associated with sledging business. “At last God heard our prayers for snow. Our sledge business is wholly dependent on snow as during the season as horses can’t be set to task,” said Muhammad Yousuf.
Photographers too are enjoying a brisk business with the snowfall. Sajad Shah a photographer is busy since morning taking the photographs of tourist. “I photographed mostly newly wedded couples and families with snow in the background. With snowfall business has picked up,” Shah who works in Shaheen Studios near Gulmarg bus stand told Greater Kashmir.
Tourists who visited this hill-resort for the first time were fascinated on seeing the carpet of snow covering the landscape. “ It’s really beautiful… I can’t express my happiness. I have seen artificial snow only in Refrigerator but today I am standing amidst it,” said Jyoti Sen of Kolkatta who had come along with her family.
Hoteliers say cold conditions were not hitting the business.
“We have made special heating arrangement in the wake of heavy rush of tourists and snowfall,” said Altaf Ahmad, a hotel owner at Gulmarg.
“ We expect our hotels to remain occupied throughout the season as skiers will now throng this place,” he added.
Director General Tourism, Muhammad Salim Baig said snowfall was vital for tourism trade during the season.
“Snowfall is the life line of Kashmir, especially Gulmarg in terms of tourism,” Baig observed. “You can’t think of good tourism in Kashmir during winter without snowfall.”
Presently, he said nearly 2000 tourists were present in Gulmarg. “Every thing is functioning nicely,” he added.