Snow Seekers Flock To Sinthan Top Amid Drought In Kashmir Valley

Sinthan Top is a snow-clad mountain peak situated at 12,500 feet connecting Anantnag in south Kashmir to Kishtwar in the Jammu region via Kokernag
View from Sinthan Top, Kashmir
View from Sinthan Top, KashmirShutterstock

As Kashmir experiences an unprecedented dry phase, most areas typically blanketed in snow have melted away, leaving the higher reaches and glaciers looking barren. Disheartened tourists have returned home without experiencing the expected winter magic, especially those who had hoped to indulge in skiing and other snow-related activities in popular spots like Gulmarg.

Amid this, Sinthan Top has emerged as a winter wonderland for enthusiastic tourists seeking snow adventures, while the rest of Kashmir grapples with an unusual lack of snowfall. The otherwise offbeat destination has become a magnet for tourists, with local travel agents redirecting travellers to this unique spot to satisfy their craving for snow.

Tourists from around the world expressed joy at finding snow in Sinthan Top, turning their disappointment into delight. Aslam Saleem from Dhaka, Bangladesh, exclaimed, "This is a very nice place. We are enjoying it very much." Vaishali from Bhopal altered her plans upon learning about the snow at Sinthan Top, stating, "We are happy that we changed our plans."

Local travel agents are advising tourists to include Sinthan Top in their itineraries, recognising it as the go-to place for snow enthusiasts. Rouf Tramboo, President of the Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK), acknowledged the concern among tourism players due to the absence of snowfall, describing January as a "total loss" with a significant decrease in bookings.

Asif Burza, managing director of Ahad Hotels and Resorts, remains hopeful for a turnaround, emphasising the importance of snow for tourism in the region. He stated, "Tourists are preferring to visit places like Sinthan Top. We hope there is snowfall and the numbers increase."

Experts attribute the decline in winter tourism to climate change, with studies showing a 25 per cent reduction in glaciers in Jammu and Kashmir over the last six decades. Earth scientist Shakeel Ahmad Romshoo expressed concern about melting glaciers in the region, while the India Meteorological Department (IMD) reported a 79 per cent deficit in winter snowfall in December 2023.

Despite the current challenges, tourists and locals hold onto hope, anticipating a resurgence in snowfall to revive the winter tourism industry in the picturesque valleys of Jammu and Kashmir.

(With inputs from PTI)

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