Under the supervisory vision of Administrative Secretary, Tourism Dr. Syed Abid Rashid (IAS), and Director Tourism, Jammu Sh. Vivekanand Rai (IRS), an extraordinary three-day odyssey to District Poonch was led by Ms. Sunaina Sharma Mehta, JKAS Joint Director Tourism, Jammu Division. This journey not only celebrated the pristine beauty of Poonch but also championed the cause of promotion of homestays, pilgrimage, rural, and adventure tourism in this border district, which is blessed with unparalleled natural beauty and heavenly adventures.
During her maiden tour to Poonch, Ms. Mehta paid a reverential visit to the Holy Shrine of Shri Baba Buddha Amarnath Ji at Mandi, renowned for its profound spiritual and religious significance. Engaging wholeheartedly with the devoted pilgrims embarking on the Shri Baba Buddha Amarnath Ji Yatra, which commenced on August 17th, Ms. Mehta gleaned their invaluable insights for future promotional campaigns of the said pious annual Yatra. Her maiden visit was hailed by the civil society of Poonch as a mission for integrating Poonch and its pristine beauty with the National and International Tourism Map, which is the voice and demand of the Youth of the area.
Addressing the media, Ms. Mehta underscored the Department’s unwavering commitment to nurturing pilgrimage tourism, Border Tourism, Adventure, and Rural Tourism. She conscientiously laid emphasis on the need to tap the immense potential of the Poonch-Rajouri district and the Pir Panjal area, especially regarding adventure gems, natural marvels, and the Sufi Pilgrimage Spirit of the area. She further added that over 45,000 pilgrims have already paid obeisance at the Holy Shrine of Baba Buddha Amarnath Ji at Mandi in 2023. She called for decisive actions and implementable strategies to forge collaborative efforts with resounding emphasis on the existing potential of these twin districts. She added that this District is blessed with holy Shrines of great saints and Sufis like Chote Shah Shrine Sakhi Maidan, Ramkund Temple Mankote, Sain Miran Shrine, Nangali Sahib Gurudwara, Dashnami Akhara, Nav Greh Temple, and many more, along with the historical Heritage Mughal Road, the unparalleled pristine Alpine Lakes, Banjhdari meadow, Nurpur meadow, Noor-i-Chhamb Waterfall, Nandishool waterfall, which is also a frozen waterfall during winters, Tatakuti Peak, and other natural marvels of immense beauty.
In a groundbreaking initiative, a one-day Homestay Promotional Camp was organized in the enchanting Loran Mandi area of Poonch District. The esteemed presence of Joint Director Tourism Jammu, Ms. Sunaina Sharma Mehta, marked this event as a testament to the Department’s unwavering dedication towards promoting Homestay and rural tourism in the area. It heralded the dawn of a new era in tourism prosperity, one that promises to uplift the local homestay industry. The local public, wholeheartedly and with overwhelming response, embraced this pioneering effort of the department, and welcomed such pioneering efforts in such hilly remote landscapes and distant areas. With the Department’s assurance of doorstep facilitation, the future of Poonch’s homestay industry seems encouraging and bright.
During her engagement with the locals, Ms. Mehta passionately encouraged all stakeholders and the local community to step forward and actively get their homes registered with the Tourism Department to welcome visitors and tourists to their homes and showcase the local culture and ethos, thus opening an era of an influx of tourists to this mesmerizing naturally endowed beautiful area. She highlighted that this initiative would not only boost tourism but also foster cultural exchange, enriching the experiences of both travelers and hosts with the local delicacies, ethnic Attires, languages, jewelry, art, craft, handicraft products, and the rural. Homes. It shall not only invigorate the local economy but also empower rural women and youth, providing them with additional avenues for economic empowerment and growth. She enthusiastically underscored the latent adventure potential residing within the entire region, especially Loran, Nurpur, Chandimarh areas, further assuring that the Department shall promote these areas so that the tourists can enrich themselves with a once-in-a-lifetime experience of experiencing nature at its best.
Speaking on the occasion, Sh. Tanveer Ahmed CEO of Poonch Development Authority (PDA), passionately extolled the economic benefits of local homestay registrations. His unwavering commitment was palpable as he pledged full Departmental assistance for homestay registration and the promotion of adventure tourism in the area.
The third day of this riveting expedition was marked with a visit to the Historical Mughal Road to assess the potential for tourism development along this Heritage road. Engaging with local stakeholders at Buffliaz, Behramagala, Sailan, and Chandimarh, Ms. Sunaina Sharma Mehta urged the locals to champion homestays and adventure tourism in this region. Her visit to the base camp of the Seven Lakes expedition at Chandimarh was an immersive experience that offered a glimpse into the hearts of adventure seekers, igniting the spirit of exploration. A detour led the team to the iconic Pir Ki Gali, a mountain pass nestled within the Pir Panjal Range, a vantage point revealing breathtaking panoramic views.
An exhilarating diversion on this odyssey brought the team to the illustrious Historic Noori Chamb waterfall, another testament to Poonch’s breathtaking natural beauty. The expedition concluded with a visit to the Dera Ki Galli (DKG), an offbeat tourist destination within the Rajouri district, and finally the Bhimber Gali in Poonch, showcasing the untapped potential of border tourism in the area.
The Directorate of Tourism Jammu stands resolute in its commitment to promote Pilgrimage and Adventure Tourism, preserve the rich cultural heritage, promote Border Tourism to instill Nationalism amongst youngsters, and championing responsible sustainable tourism practices. This 03 Days expedition has undeniably unlocked the true potential of Poonch, a destination that beckons with not only spiritual enlightenment but also the embrace of nature’s pristine beauty. Poonch District’s allure extends far beyond its religious and cultural landmarks. It is bestowed with lush forests, pristine lakes, and landscapes that leave one breathless. Ms. Mehta, with fervor, emphasized the paramount importance of preserving these natural wonders. She was joined on this expedition by Sh. Tanveer Ahmed JKAS CEO Poonch Development Authority, Sh. Arif Lone JKAS Assistant Director Tourism Rajouri/Poonch, Sh. Mumtaz Ahmed Tourist Officer Poonch/Rajouri, and other senior officials of the Tourism Department.