Amid renewed peace, the Indo-Pak border will come home to tourists

With peace returning to the Indo-Pak border since the November 2021 renewed ceasefire agreement between the two nuclear-armed countries, tourists visiting Jammu and Kashmir can now get a feel of border life.

Prompted by the administration’s initiatives, 32-year-old Sunny Choudhary, a B.Tech in computer science, has come up with a house in Dagh village, barely 2 km from the zero line. (Photo HT)

The Samba district administration in harmony with the tourism department has launched a series of initiatives to promote border tourism.

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From homestays to renovation of historic shrines and new road networks, the Samba administration has focused on initiatives that attract tourists to the Indo-Pak border.

Prompted by the administration’s initiatives, 32-year-old Sunny Choudhary, a B.Tech in computer science, has come up with a house in Dagh village, barely 2 km from the zero line.

“During the annual Baba Chamliyal mela, the tourism cooperative society of which I am a member informed us about the houses and brought the idea. Since we had built a new house, I carved a house out of it and named it Smriti homestay,” he said.

“It has Wi-Fi, a gym, hygienic home-cooked food and a pollution-free frontier life,” he added.

The J&K administration recently agreed to build houses in the vicinity of the Baba Chamliyal shrine in Ramgarh sector to boost border tourism.

Choudhary’s house also has air-conditioned rooms.

Former Sarpanch of Jerda village, Mohan Singh Bhatti has also renovated a bunker in the verandah of his house for tourists, who want to get a feel of living inside a bunker.

During Indo-Pak clashes, villagers take shelter in these bunkers, which were sanctioned by the Center and built by the public works department.

“I have renovated a bunker in my house so that tourists can have that feeling. We are ready to welcome tourists. We will provide them a home-like atmosphere with home-cooked food,” said the septuagenarian.

These villages are barely one to two km from the zero line. Pakistanis on the other side of the border can be seen farming and taking care of daily chores.

Bhatti also informed that a community bunker in his village was well maintained and equipped with modern facilities.

“In the past, peace was fragile here. Our homes are literally at ground zero. Whenever Pakistan opened fire and fired mortars, we took shelter in these bunkers. They are life savers for us. Tourists can feel it,” he said.

Samba district has the 55 km long border with Pakistan with about 40 villages winding along it.

Samba Deputy Magistrate Abhishek Sharma said, “The government has prioritized border tourism. We took some initiatives about six months ago with the aim of developing a border tourism circuit.”

He informed that in the framework of the promotion of border tourism, the administration has revived the historical shrines that are 500 to 200 years old.

“We are also looking for farmers and young entrepreneurs to become tour guides. We also encourage home stays. The administration has also approached the BSF for allowing tourists to see the sights and visit their posts. The BSF is also keen on it,” Sharma said.

“To connect them, we are integrating the facilities and within two months they will be in operation. These initiatives would also improve the socio-economic condition of the border population,” said Sharma.

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