Thousands of people fill Wullar Vantage Park to participate in the Wullar Festival

BANDIPORA: To promote Wullar as a major tourist destination in the Valley, the Bandipora Administration, in collaboration with the Wullar Battalion of the Army, the Department of Tourism and the WUCMA, organized the Wullar Festival on the banks of the Wullar Lake in Wullar Vantage Park Garoora, which witnessed much fanfare.

The Division (Div Com) Kashmir Commissioner, Pandurang K Pole, was the chief guest on the occasion.

The event was attended by the president of the District Development Council (DDC) Bandipora, Ab Gani Bhat; Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Dr. Owais Ahmed; Vice President DDC, Kounser Shafeeq; Executive Director of the Wullar Conservation and Management Authority, T Rabi Kumar; SSP Bandipora, Mohammad Zahid; ADDC Ali Afsar Khan; ADC Waseem Raja; DPO M Ashraf Hakak, Faisal Ali Dar (Padma Shri Awardee), Commander 26 Assam Rifles, Commanders of several other army units, DDC/BDC members, sector and district officers, other public representatives plus a large gathering of people from different walks of life.

In the introductory session, Bandipora Joint Planning Director Imtiyaz Ahmad said that the event is aimed at the dual goals of promoting sustainable economic upgrading and tourism. He said that Wullar is not just a tourist destination, but an asset to engage thousands of people to earn a living.

Various cultural and musical elements were presented by different bands and groups that received great applause from the audience. Tribal folk songs and heartwarming patriotic numbers left the audience spellbound. The martial arts demonstration by Ali Sports Academy students was also an eye-catching activity for the audience.

Addressing the meeting, Div Com said that the goal of organizing the Wullar Festival was to promote Wullar as a major tourist destination as well as provide a platform for local artists to showcase their talent.

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He said such festivals will attract more tourists and help improve the socio-economic status of people in the district.

Pole said that the goal of the Wullar festival was fulfilled by witnessing the huge and enthusiastic turnout of the people. He said that, on average, a tourist employs at least six people and that Wullar has the potential to change the socio-economic condition of the people.

He said about 20 lac tourists have visited UT this year so far and the rush will continue throughout the year.

The Div Com urged people to register to stay in homestays, as tourists prefer homestays to enjoy the rich cultural heritage. He urged people to leave spare rooms for tourists and make a living.

During the inspection of posts from various departments, the Div Com also distributed cash assistance checks to recipients of various government plans.

Speaking on the occasion, the DDC president thanked the efforts of the District Administration for the promotion of tourism throughout the district. He said promoting Wullar as a tourist destination will help create more job opportunities for young people.

The DC said the Wullar festival was aimed at promoting sustainable tourism to the world-renowned lake, which is also a body of water protected by a Ramsar site for the economic betterment of the people involved, and to raise awareness of the ecological wealth of the lake and the need to conserve this Natural Resource.

He said that this festival will also provide a platform for local artists and school children to showcase their talent. He said the Administration is committed to putting Wullar and surrounding areas on a tourism map to provide more employment opportunities for youth and provide livelihoods. He said that along with promoting Wullar as a top destination, efforts are also being made to promote conservation activities, keeping in mind the ecological sensitivity of Lake Wullar.

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He welcomed and thanked the public for their participation and promotion of traditional culture.

Dr. Owais also appreciated WUCMA’s efforts to dredge 4.35 sq km of critically silted Lake Wullar to date from a 27 sq km silted area en route to restoring it to its former glory.

He said the Wullar Walkway work has been allocated at an amount of Rs 18.76 crore and will be completed next year. Apart from this, various ghats, parks and tourist attractions are being rehabilitated to boost tourism around the lake, he added.

Dr Owais said the festival will also promote awareness of the importance of the lake, the Ramsar convention and the ecosystem services the lake provides.

During the festival, the Wullar Conservation and Management Authority organized a bird watching event in the Zurimanz area of ​​Bandipora, taking school children bird watching. The children received information on the use of bird watching equipment and bird guides.

In addition to bird watching, other activities were organized, such as boat rides, photography contest, painting contest, debates and other cultural activities that showcased and highlighted Wullar.

In Shouib Masoodi’s ‘Shades of Wullar’ photo contest, a senior journalist from Bandipora took first place.

On the occasion, all the stall holders of various competitions were congratulated to encourage them to further promote and raise awareness of Wullar’s tourism potential and ecological conservation.

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