Lolab Valley is located approximately 120 Km from Srinagar near Kupwara town in Northern part of Kashmir. Lolab is blessed with picturesque landscape with mesmerising valley floor surrounded by majestic snow-clad mountains. It is bounded by Kashmir valley to the south, Kishanganga valley to the north and is separated by Nagmarg meadows from Bandipura. Paddy is widely cultivated in the valley floor along with apple, cherry, peach, apricot and walnut.
The ancient caves of Kalaroos, lush green meadows of Nagmarg overlooking Wular Lake, Chandigam, Varnow and Dhoban are few of the preferred tourist destinations in the valley. People of Lolab have unique culture and traditions due to its geographical isolation. They are friendly and warm-hearted people with intrinsic hospitality. In spite of having so much to offer, tourism in Lolab is next to nil due to decades of negligence and mismanagement. Lolab used to be hot bed of terrorism during the 90’s, however, with combined effort of Army, Police and the Govt, the situation in Lolab has improved tremendously and it is moving towards normalcy. The locals including the surrendered terrorists have joined the mainstream and are slowly but steadily working for the prosperity of Lolab.
Bringing Lolab into the mainstream tourism map of Kashmir will open up avenues of employment for the locals. It will help uplift the area and result in the holistic development of Lolab. In Lolab there are many Govt guest rooms which are located in the area adjoining village and forest, locally known as Daman area. The view of Lolab valley from these guest rooms are breathtaking and would attract tourists from all over the world. With COVID 19 restrictions and people slowly moving toward work from home concept, “workstation” in hostels is a new concept which is trending all over the world. In this people travel to exotic locations, stay in dormitories and work from spacious rooms with a good view of the nature. They generally stay for a long duration of time and find peace from otherwise hectic city life. If we are able to convert these guest rooms into workstation/ hostels with good internet connectivity, people from all over the world will flock towards Lolab valley to enjoy working from these facilities. Unfortunately, most of the guestrooms are under utilised because of lack of publicity. The tourism department of Kashmir should focus on maintaining these guest rooms as well as popularising their availability through various online portals.
Camping and trekking is a relatively new genre of tourism which is becoming popular amongst the youth in the country and Lolab offers beautiful lush green meadows in top of her mountains for those who are brave enough to make the climb. Private adventure enthusiasts and organisations can be given access to these forests to organise such trekking camps. Wular Lake located at Bandipora is the largest lake in Kashmir, however, unlike Dal Lake very few tourists explore Wular. If boating facilities are introduced in the lake, these trekking camps can incorporate a visit to Wular as well. The upper reaches of Lolab are blessed with snowfall for half of the year. These areas have slopes with varying degree of difficulties which can be utilised for skiing and snowboarding. If we develop Lolab into a winter sports hub, the boost it will have on the local economy will be immense. Lolab has a special place in Jammu and Kashmir because of it is beautiful landscape, cultural history and literary heritage.
But more than what make Lolab unique is her resilience and hope. If we are able to welcome the world to folds of Lolab, the day Lolab becomes the land of love and beauty in its true sense will not be long.