Srinagar: The recent report of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) claiming zero crimes against foreigners in J&K in the year 2015 and 2016 seem to have encouraged women travellers to plan their holidays to Kashmir.
A group women travellers who concluded their visit to Kashmir recently found the place most safe and a shopping paradise.
Not only did they roam freely and enjoyed shopping but mixing with the locals was an amazing experience for them.
The women travellers from Hyderabad visited Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam without any male member. Their friend Rashida Hussain who had already visited Kashmir earlier was their sole guide and motivation to set out to Kashmir.
Before finalising the holiday vacation to Kashmir, no one supported them. However, after completing their tour, these women travellers want to promote not only Kashmir’s beauty but also propagate how safe travellers especially women are in Kashmir.
Rehana Khambaty said they were apprehensive of visiting Kashmir after watching frequent prime time debates on Kashmir on news channels.
“Kashmir was still irresistible to us and we decided to make a plan against all the advisories. However, after spending time here, we found Kashmiri people more welcoming than any part of the world we have visited. People are really nice and they take care of tourist as their valued guests. Our all apprehensions proved wrong,” says Rehana.
The women also enjoyed shopping of Kashmiri handicrafts in Srinagar. But what amazed them most was the shopping inside Dal Lake while enjoying leisure shikara ride.
“See I bought this backpack which has beautiful embroidery works on it. I have fallen in love with it and I am flaunting it as my prized piece. This bag is a pride for me and it will be a thing of envy for everybody once I will be back to Hyderabad,” says Zulekha Broachwala who was enjoying Shikara ride at Dal Lake.
“Shopping in Dal Lake while you also enjoy shikra ride is another experience. We got such authentic Kashmiri stuff which we don’t get to see anywhere else.”
She also has found Kashmir absolutely safe for travellers especially for women.
“Kashmir is a real place for holidaying. A traveller has everything in one state here and above all we feel safer than any other place. When we mix with locals here, we feel absolutely confident. We get real local experience. People are more than helping and which is really amazing,” says Zulekha.
Another group member Shehnaaz Khambaty has spent most of the day in shopping in Srinagar.
She described Srinagar as best place for women shopping.
She had bought handcrafted shawls, the poncho, jewellery, embroidered bags and bed sheets also.
“The shopping experience has also been great. The shopkeepers also welcome you with smiles and offer you lot of Kashmiri handcrafted products which are nowhere available. This place is a shopping paradise for women who can buy many embroidered products,” says Shehnaaz.
She too felt safe while travelling to different destinations in Kashmir.
“The best of Kashmir that we found out was the hospitality. Wherever we have been as a group, we were really well taken care of by the people be at any tourist resort or in the hotel or houseboats. The staffs are too good.”
The women travellers also met Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti at Gulmarg during snow carnival and expressed their happiness over visiting Kashmir.
“Even we got to interact with Chief Minister here as if we were some VIPs. We are cherishing every bit of Kashmir’s beauty.”
In one day only in Gulmarg, the women got so many things to do making their day lively.
From joy ride on snow scooters, having a slide over skis or a Gondola ride, they cherished it all.
“We enjoyed the gondola cable car in Gulmarg and climbed upto the second phase second phase of gondola above 13000 feet which is quite amazing.”
Rashida Hussain was the first to encourage her friends to visit Kashmir. She has earlier visited Kashmir and motivated her friends on planning their holidays to Srinagar.
“I have been here and knew all the media stories on Kashmir are overplayed which creates fear among travellers. I got them here and they are very happy now. Some of us have visited Switzerland also and we found Kashmir more beautiful than that place. It is not only beauty but affordability also. Kashmir is a total holiday package for any taste of tourist.”