Kashmiri girls enjoying skiing as a part of educational curriculum in Gulmarg

By Bilal Butt, Gulmarg Mar 17, 2006: Gulmarg, thirty-two miles from Srinagar, with its natural slopes and inclines, is the country’s premier ski resort and a favourite winter tourist destination. These days many Kashmiri young girls are enjoying the region’s snow-blanketed slopes as educational institutes are promoting skiing as a recreational activity among the youth here.

There was a time when the girls in Kashmir valley were expected to wear veils due to religious belief. But with the passage of time, the young girls are exploring avenues to conquer the picturesque slopes of the scenic hill resort of Gulmarg at 8,500 feet above sea level in the Pir Panjal ranges of the Himalayas.

Moving ahead with time these girls have shed their traditional dresses for a pair of ski jumpers costumes as they attend a 14-day basic ski-training course, being conducted by the University of Jammu and Kashmir.

The camp is intended to draw women out of their homes for recreational activities instead of making any attempt at preparing national ski champions.

“Recreation is very essential. Especially, for such youngsters who remained absorb in studies. We bring them here away from the stress, to the mountains and are giving them this training,” said Mohammed Yosuf, a ski instructor with the university.

As snow-flakes gently fell to the ground, 20 women students from various areas of the region that include Srinagar, Kupwara, Anantnag and Sopore, donned in ski gear, tackled the white slopes.

“Earlier I always thought that skiing was very tough and we would never be able to do it. But after we saw an advertisement on television offering us a course, we were very excited about it. It’s very nice here,” said Sabeena, a trainee.

Besides the basic ski course, the programme also offers an advance course and an instructor’s course for those interested in making skiing a career.

Nusrat Nabi, an avid skier and trainee believes that there is a vast scope in the field.

“It’s very nice. I am doing my basic course now and want to do my advance course later on. I was always interested in skiing. After completing all the courses I can also become an instructor. There is a lot of scope here,” she said.

Kashmir with its cloud capped snowy peaks, densely forested mountain slopes, undulating foothills, infinite variety of flora and fauna – are a temptation no nature lover and adventure seeker can resist.

It is believed Kashmir region with many rivers and small streams has a lot of potential for adventure tourism.

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