After the abrogation of Article 370 and terrorist attacks in Kashmir during recent times, tourists are not ready to visit Kashmir. Nowadays hardly any tourist is seen in Kashmir valley due to outbreak of Covid-19 as well.
But this shutdown and fear among tourists has given an impetus to tourism sector in Jammu. From the last few years, Jammu has witnessed more footfall than Kashmir. The tourism sector in Jammu is growing at a good speed. Jammu division in the Union Territory has been declared as the safest tourist place for Indian visitors. Even the tension on the border has not affected the tourism sector in Jammu.
According to the data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Jammu has not witnessed any crime against tourists in the years 2015 and 2016.
With many famous tourist spots in Jammu, there is a little-explored destination covered with lush green forests and a snow-covered mountain peak, Bhaderwah. Bhaderwah is a small town in the district of Doda. It is also given as the status of the sub-district of Doda. The valley of Bhaderwah is located on the foothills of the Himalayan mountains.
Earlier Bhaderwah was known as Hettary Nagar. As per the records of Bhaderwah Development Authority (BDA) during the months of April, May, and June last year about 2.15 lakh tourists have visited the beautiful scenic place. A senior officer of Bhaderwah Development Authority said that during these months in 2019 an average of 18,000 to 20,000 visitors visited Bhaderwah daily and the increasing tourism has opened doors for the local people to earn at the ease of their homes.
Most of the visitors who come to Bhaderwah are from Jammu, Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi. The town has some hotels that are owned by Jammu and Kashmir tourism development and private sectors.
Bhaderwah has gained popularity as a tourist spot because of the articles posted in newspapers and photos of its scenic beauty being shared by visitors on social media platforms. Covered with the apple and peach trees, Bhaderwah sometimes is called Mini Kashmir. During the start of every year, the area witnesses few visitors but the number grows with increasing heat in plains. Bhaderwah valley is now guarded by the army and paramilitary forces.
The locals of Bhaderwah have been demanding the government to free the valley from the title of Mini-Kashmir. According to locals, the title mini-Kashmir is dragging the tourist spot behind. They say that the name Kashmir is giving a bad impression to the valley. The locals asked the government to promote the valley with a separate identity by keeping in view the local tradition of Valley. The valley has the potential of attracting not only tourists who love natural beauty but also people who love hiking and mountain climbing.
As per the government sources, several projects have been started to upgrade the infrastructure and provide more facilities in the valley.
The government so far had failed to divert the interest of tourists visiting Shri Mata Vaishno Devi and Amarnath Yatra to pilgrimages in Bhaderwah like Machail Yatra, Kailash Kund, and Mani Mahesh. All these sites do not have basic facilities for tourists visiting these places. According to the local from the year, we have heard of many development projects but none of them had started in recent years. There were also many allegations against the Jammu and Kashmir government of differentiating the tourist spots of Jammu and not promoting them which were generally aimed at Kashmir valley.
Also, the roads connecting the Bhaderwah valley with other parts of the area are in worse condition. Road and publicity are two main factors on which the emphasis should be given according to one of the local. Strict actions have been imposed on the shopkeepers and tourists who dispose of plastic bags and bottles on the open grounds of Valley.
Some of the places one should visit in Bhaderwah are – Covered in the thick forest from all sides is Chinta valley. Situated at a height of 6500 feet above the sea level Chinta valley is known for activities like horse riding. The valley also has an ancient temple of Lord shiva.
Another famous spot is the Padri. 40 kilometers from Bhaderwah, Padri is located at a height of 10500 meters from the sea level. Padri receives the highest snowfall in the area. The area is also known for Machail-Yatra and Mani-Mahesh years during the months of July and August. Apart from yatra, the area is perfect for trekking lovers.