04 December, 2020

Shikaras Set Sail

Tourists regain this lost paradise as even militants decide not to spoil the party

Tribhuvan Tiwari
Shikaras Set Sail
You sense there's something in the air as soon as you board the Srinagar-bound plane. It's full and most travellers look like tourists, and non-Kashmiris. When you land, Srinagar airport is packed with people—and not just the usual security. The first thing your taxi driver, Abdul Rashid, tells you is "this is the best year for tourism in the last 14 years". As you meander towards your hotel through security barricades, he tells you anecdotes about packed hotels and the general economic boom.

You think it's a bit exaggerated until you go to the city's Boulevard Road (by the Dal Lake) in the evening where traffic jams are a common sight. Thanks to the crowd that also throngs the lake and the adjoining Mughal gardens, sometimes it could take you three to four hours to drive down the 12-km stretch from Nishat Bagh to the main city. Over the next few days, you meet the ruling party politicians who feel that the new CM, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, has turned around the economic fortunes of the state. And state intelligence and police officials contend that even the militants have...


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