26 Sep 17/Tuesday

Forget stone pelting and enjoy Kashmir’s famed hospitality.

A short film showcasing the hospitality of Kashmir has taken the nation and social media by storm. From Bollywood actor Alia Bhat to famous filmmaker Karan Johar to common man, the 5.4-minute film has been shared by who-is-who on the Twitter and Facebook.

The video has clocked two million views on the face book page of Jammu and Kashmir Tourism department in less than 48 hours. It has notched 19,207 shares while 1,899 people have commented on this video.

Entitled ‘The Warmest Place on Earth’, the short film has been produced by Jaibeer Ahmad and it brings to fore the hospitable, warm and spiritually rooted nature of the people of the otherwise restive Kashmir valley.

“People have received it very well. I am thankful to all the people — Bollywood personalities, journalists and other renowned personalities — who have liked and shared it. Inshallah (God willing) It will be the turning point for the tourism sector in Kashmir,” said Mehmood Ahmad Shah, director of tourism Kashmir.

What encapsulates Kashmir’s traditional warmth is the musical track running in the background amidst stunning visuals of the valley. The lyrics of the track ‘Sahibo’ has been written by 2010 IAS topper Dr Shah Faesal who is currently the managing director of J&K Power Development Corporation. “It is my small contribution to this amazing song,” said Dr Faesal.

Sung by Mudasir Ahmad and Vibha Saraf, the song has been a value addition to the short film which is being an elixir to revive the fledgling tourism of Kashmir.

“We wanted to do something more . Apart from the beauty of place what touches us is the hospitality. And that is the memorable experience. We picked it up. And the response of the film has been enormous,” said Jaibeer Ahmad, the filmmaker.

Post Burhan Wani killing unrest has cost the hotel industry Rs 1,100 crore. Curfews, hartals, stone pelting and encounters have shaken the confidence of the tourists who have given Kashmir a miss after the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8 last year.

Figures reveal this year around 7.9 lakh tourists visited Kashmir this year. They include over 2.6 lakh Amarnath yatris who visited the cave shrine this year. Last year 11.27 lakh tourists visit Kashmir most of them before July 8 when Burhan Wani was killed.

Official figures reveal that the tourism sector suffered a loss of Rs 3000 crore due to the unrest in 2016. Official data reveal that around three lakh tourists had visited Kashmir between July 2015 and September 2015. The footfalls of tourist however were reduced to trickle in the corresponding period of the 2016 because of the post Burhan Wani killing unrest.

“When recently Amarnath Yatris were killed by some enemies of peace, people thronged hospitals to donate blood and even took to streets to condemn the heinous crime. Similarly last summer a Shikarawallah lost his life while saving his guests. These are the empirical evidences of this hospitality,” said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.