Majestic Chinar trees, lush green hillsides and the mesmerising sounds of the Santoor – all transport you instantly to the Kashmir of the sixties and the seventies. Back then, no self-respecting Hindi movie could afford to miss shooting a romantic song in Kashmir; newly married couples aspired for a Kashmir honeymoon; and the rich and famous holidayed here. But then came the eighties and political discord resulted in Kashmir slipping off the tourism radar. A thing of the past, I tell you! Because all that flying fur has settled down to a great extent and it is once again time to get away from the summer heat and plan a trip to Kashmir. To add to this is interesting shopping in Kashmir. Yes! Kashmir is indeed a popular shopping destination because of the array of items available that are unique to this region. Not only could you shop, markets in Kashmir proffer local delicacies which are readily available so you can shop and munch at the same time.
With regular flights to Srinagar and safe bus journeys that give you more of Kashmir per eye-blink, the valley is once again sizzling on the holiday makers’ most wanted charts. Yes, you need to be careful and yes, you must keep the eyes and ears working fulltime while here, but don’t let that stop you from sampling the spoils of one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Visit the temples and dargahs, go skiing and trekking, laze around on a houseboat for an entire day and shop!
Shopping beyond Pashminas
Kashmir’s Pashmina shawls and stoles have captured the hearts of thousands of shoppers but you could come back with so much more. There are walnut wood carvings, papiér–maché knick knacks and the alluring red Kashmiri chillies –the staple shopping cart of every tourist. Read on to find out some not so staple items that you should hunt for in the city:
- Buy vintage maps of Kashmir
- Be a Chai Shoda – Kashmiri for ‘tea addict’; bring back special green tea leaves that result in the special Kashmiri salted pink tea or Noon Chai. You can get them easily at most grocery stores
- Of course you’re going to buy a Kashmiri hand woven carpet or a Namda, but also let your roving eye rest on Kashmiri crewel-work wall hangings and rugs
- Buy antique copper ware like samovars and trays (you need to find a sturdy guide who can take you to the Old City; don’t venture to this area by yourself)
- Take back some willow baskets; definitely not your everyday shopping bag
- You’ve seen them at every handicraft expo you’ve been to, but this time, get the real thing – Kashmiri Lac ornaments. Go wild with necklaces, bracelets and hairpins
- A great take-back would be old photographs and some Kashmiri art
- Heat it up with spices – Other than the Kashmiri red chillies, you must take back saffron. Kashmir is one of the few places in the world that grows saffron and you will have to travel to a saffron farm near Pampore Fields, a few miles out of Srinagar to get it (with the help of a certified guide only!)
- If you’re travelling back home by air, make a stop at a local bakery or Kandur Wan for some delicious Lavaasa, Girdas and Kulchas. You’re going to be very popular back home!
- The local tweed is cut and tailored into the beautiful long garment called a Ferin – you’d be spoiled rotten for choice but don’t come back without at least one piece to keep you warm in the cold winters.
- If you are in the mood to splurge, bank upon a piece of jewellery encrusted with the ‘Doda Sapphire’ – found only in Kashmir
- Do visit the floating markets on the dal lake and watch as locals haggle for everyday objects while their boats remain afloat on water.
- You could visit the Tibetan market in Leh and buy a famous Thangka Painting.
- Go to Lal Chowk or Badshah chowk to procure articles amde of Walnut wood, carved to perfection.
- Dont forget to buy a Shatoosh shawl when in Kashmir!
Things to Remember
There are interesting handicrafts shops and bazaars spread across the state where you can pick up beautiful collectibles. However, stick to tourist-heavy places for shopping if you are alone. However, if you do want to venture out to the Old City, do so only with the help of a certified guide and a vehicle recommended by the J&K Tourism Department. Go to Maharaja Bazaar and Kokar Bazaar for spices and the main market area for Kashmiri embroidery objects. Enjoy the delightful markets as you roam around and explore the variety offered by the region. However, don’t leave your hotel at odd hours and without proper identification. Finally, know that tourists are some of the safest people in Kashmir today – they’re the backbone of the area’s economy! So enjoy your time and do share your experience with us.
Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Tourism
05-October-2017 13:09 IST
Paryatan Parv of M/O Tourism begins today across the country
‘Paryatan Parv’ of the Ministry of Tourism begins today across the country. The Parv is being inaugurated at the Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi today by Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (I/C) for Culture in the presence of Shri Alphons Kannanthanam. A cultural programme with Meera Bhajans by Vidya Shah and Dastan-e-Amir Khusrau presented by Dr. Syeda Hameed, Zakia Zaheer & Rene Singh will be presented on the occasion.
The Paryatan Parv will culminate in a 3 day event in New Delhi from the 23rd to 25th October 2017 which will showcase the cultural diversity of the country, with cultural performances, crafts bazaar, food court showcasing folk and classical dance & music, handicrafts & handlooms and cuisine from all regions and States of the country.
The Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with other Central Ministries, State Governments and Stakeholders is organizing a “Paryatan Parv” across the country from the 5th to 25th October 2017. The programme is being organized with the objective of drawing focus on the benefits of tourism, showcasing the cultural diversity of the country and reinforcing the principle of “Tourism for All”.
Paryatan Parv will have three main components:-
· Dekho Apna Desh:- To encourage Indians to visit their own country. This includes Video, Photograph and Blog Competitions of sites visited during the Event, Stories of India through Travelers’ Eyes, on Social Media, Tourism related Quiz, Essay, Debate and Painting Competitions for Students, Television Campaigns to promote travel to J&K and N.E. States.
· Tourism for All: - Tourism Events at sites across all States in the country.
The activities at these sites include illumination in and around the Sites, Cultural Programmes of Dance, Music, Theatre, Story Telling, Sensitisation Programmes for Stakeholders around the Sites, Tourism Exhibitions, Showcasing Culture, Cuisine and Handicrafts / Handlooms, Guided Heritage Walks, etc. These will be “People’s Events” with large scale public participation.
· Tourism & Governance:- Interactive Sessions & Workshops with Stakeholders on varied themes :-
· Skill Development in Tourism Sector
· Innovation in Tourism
· For inducting Ex-servicemen as service providers for Taxi Operation
· Developing Rural Tourism in locations near established Destinations
· Community Sensitisation Workshops on Homestay and B&B Opportunities
Partners in the event include the State Governments who are organize cultural and other tourism related events, workshops and seminars at the identified sites as well at other destinations and locations in their States.
Central Ministries have also proactively come forward and are part of the event.
· Ministry of Culture will arrange ccultural programmes of dance, music, theatre, storytelling at identified sites, arrange Artists’ Camps at different venues and undertake illumination of ASI monuments during the Parv.
· Ministry of Information & Broadcasting will extend support for generating awareness about Tourism and the event and Doordarshan will organize competitions to engage with the public.
· Ministry of Textiles will arrange for exhibition of handlooms and handicrafts by artisans at the different sites.
· Ministry of Rural Development, through its National Rurban Missions will arrange local activities focusing on rural tourism at their identified rural clusters.
· Ministry of Human Resource Development will arrange quiz, painting and essay competitions at Kendriya Vidyalayas and excursion trips for students to iconic tourist sites.
· Ministry of Skill Development will partner in workshops on Skill Development in the Tourism Sector and sensitization of service providers
· Ministry of DONER will coordinate tourism events, exhibitions, cultural programmes and sensitization programmes in the North East Region.
· Ministry of Ayush will arrange Yoga demonstrations / sessions and workshops.
· Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports will organize youth camps, adventure activities and a Tribal Youth Exchange programme during the Parv. Visiting teams participating in the FIFA U-17 World Cup will be taken to tourist sites in the cities where matches will be held.
· Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will partner in the event for public outreach by organizing tourism related quiz / photography / video competitions on MyGov.
· Ministry of Environment & Forests will arrange sensitization programmes on responsible tourism for stakeholders.
· Key airports will be given a festive look during the Parv by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and sensitization programmes for staff at the airports will also be organized.
· Similarly, Ministry of Railways will arrange for a festive look at major railway stations and will organize sensitization programmes for the railway staff.
· Ministry of Road Transport & Highways will collaborate by way of launching wayside amenities in identified tourist circuits.
· Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas will create tourist wayside amenities at select petrol pumps.
· Ministry of Finance (Revenue) will organize sensitization programmes for Customs officials at airports and sea ports.
· Ministry of Home Affairs will conduct sensitization programmes for Immigration and CISF officials and staff.
· The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce will arrange a Tourism Investor Round Table Conference with participation of Indian and Global Investors.
In the overseas markets, the Ministry of External Affairs through the Indian Missions overseas, is conducting outreach programmes to encourage people to visit India, with special focus on PIOs who have never visited the country.
The “Adopt a Heritage” project launched by the Ministry of Tourism will be implemented at key sites during this period. Wayside Amenities for tourists will also be launched at important sites in identified circuits.
In addition, the mega event will see active participation by Cultural Associations and Organisations, Travel & Hospitality Industry, Institutes of Hotel Management, Indian Institutes of Tourism & Travel Management, Service Providers, Students and Youth and the Local Population.
Paryatan Parv is being supported by extensive media activities and programmes in all media, including Social Media. Doordarshan will telecast special programmes during the event including:
· Quiz Programmes – “The Wonder that is India”.
· Smile India Smile Campaign – A still photography competition.
· Do You Know? – A Campaign to propagate interesting facts about India.