Jammu, the city of temples has been known for its religious places but from the past few years, it is gaining popularity because of its tourist spots in the lap of nature.
Jammu has many great natural beauty spots that are known for its scenic view, environment, and activities. The lush green areas with cool breeze and the calm with serenity, waterfalls and rivers with various activities like rafting, snowboarding, trekking, has attracted tourists from other regions. During past few years, the tourism sector in Jammu has climbed a certain notches and that’s all because of the tourists visiting Jammu for their holidays or to remove their boredom.
Among such beautiful tourist spots, one such spot is the Patnitop in the hills of Udhampur district. Patnitop is situated at a height of 2,024 meters. Patnitop comprises of thick forest of Deodar trees and Kail trees. Patnitop is known for a picnic spot and breathtaking view. Patnitop pulls the attention of tourists during the winter season when the area is covered with white snow which gives the eyes instant relief. People at Patnitop can enjoy activates like horse riding, camping, and trekking. Skiing courses for beginners are also conducted here. People can also visit Batote, an old hill station, Known for apple orchards.
However for the past few months, the tourist spot has lost its true colors like it used to appear in films, documentaries, photos, and advertisements. The hill station is neglected by the authorities in terms of development and care. While the Patnitop Development Authority is charging taxes from the people coming from both sides of circa road but the road is in a ruined condition. The abandoned shops, weed growth, improperly painted huts, burnt, and damaged pine trees all make the location an eyesore to eyes and the authorities are only levying charges on the tourists. The plastic littered here and there is damaging the ecosystem.
Also, the Urban Environment Engineering Department (UEED) has failed to meet the deadlines to make the proper sewage scheme which has a direct effect on the environment of the tourist spot. The funding part of the project was under the direct control of Jammu and Kashmir Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC). Many articles, blogs have appeared in the newspapers, social media but the authorities didn’t bother to look after the problems. While the project has gone through numerous changes and had been out in the public domain to invite objections and suggestions the Patnitop Development Authority has signed an agreement with the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, (CEPT) Hyderabad to undertake the project.
The Patnitop Development Authority has posted pictures of broken stone paths, benches on their website. The only contact number developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), which is provided on their website is linked to the fax machine so it makes no sense for tourists or other people to contact the officials. The website of PDA has four to five low-quality pictures of Patnitop which have not been updated since the website was formed. Even a small development has not been updated on the site. This carelessness by authorities has started affecting the tourism sector in Patnitop. The locals are also not happy with the authorities.
Now since the place is losing thousands of visitors every year the authorities who are responsible for the development of the Patnitop had to work hard during all the seasons to save the place from eco-logical as well as the man-made disaster. The authorities are now looking forward to the ways to save the tourist spot from getting extinct and also to increase tourism in the spot.
Due to the construction of the Chenani-Nashri tunnel, the nearby areas of Kud and Batote have lost their name as the people pass from the tunnel to save time. Earlier people used to visit these places while coming back from Patnitop to buy famous sweets but few people visit there now. The way the government is neglecting the trash and garbage in the hills of Patnitop the days are not far when the tourist spot will come to the verge of extinction. The sooner the government will act otherwise the place will lose its natural identity and will become like a metro city.
To increase tourism in Patnitop and to shift the interest of the people from the losing identity of Patnitop the government had started working on the Master Plan which was formed nine years back in September 2011. Government is looking to make Patnitop as the center of economic activities as there is an increase in the number of people visiting Shri Mata Vaishno Devi and Amarnath Yatra. And to make the project successful ropeway service has been started in Patnitop. According to the authorities, the service will attract a lot of tourists.