Srinagar, Jan 19: Gulmarg, a haven for skiing enthusiasts and winter sports aficionados, now presents a starkly different picture as the uphill slopes that would typically be adorned with snow stand barren and desolate.
As visitors embark on the journey to Gulmarg, anticipating the thrill of gliding down snow-clad slopes, they are met with a disheartening scene that reflects the toll of an unexpected turn in nature.
The absence of snow has not only dashed the hopes of skiing enthusiasts but also left thousands of people, whose livelihoods are intricately tied to the winter tourism industry, grappling with uncertainty and economic hardship.
Shahid Ahmad who runs a ski school in Gulmarg had to close his institution due to a dearth of snow.
“We started our ski school in December and due to a dearth of snowfall we had to close as there is no snow as a result of which there is no activity,” he says. “The unpredictability of weather has dealt a blow to the vibrant winter sports scene we cherish in Gulmarg.”
The absence of snow in Gulmarg is not only affecting winter sports enthusiasts but is taking a severe toll on the livelihoods of those reliant on daily-wage jobs.
Muhammad Shafi, a ponywala, lamented the harsh impact, saying, “We hardly find a customer. If the influx of tourists is less, this means no business for us, and how can we feed our families.”
The scarcity of snow has resulted in a significant downturn for those providing services integral to the winter tourism experience.
Hoteliers in Gulmarg are also feeling the brunt of the snowless landscape, grappling with a wave of cancellations and a decline in overall business.
Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Hoteliers Club, Mushtaq Chaya voiced his concerns, saying, “This unprecedented winter has had a bad impact on Gulmarg as a destination. Winter was the peak season, drawing people for adventure sports and the serene snow-filled landscapes. However, this snowless Gulmarg is shooing away tourists and leading to massive cancellations, leaving hoteliers in a challenging position.”
The disappointment resonates among the tourists who had anticipated the enchanting winter wonderland of Gulmarg, only to be greeted by a landscape bereft of its customary snow-covered charm.
Muhammad Jameel, a tourist from Kolkata, expressed his dejection, saying, “I came from Kolkata to enjoy winter snow in Gulmarg, but here it feels like a desert. The winter is warm, and the slopes are all barren.”
For visitors like Jameel, the unexpected absence of snow has transformed the renowned winter destination into an unfamiliar terrain, leaving them disheartened and yearning for the picturesque scenes they had envisioned.
The uncharacteristic weather conditions have not only disrupted the lives of locals but have also cast a shadow over the expectations of those who travelled to experience the quintessential Gulmarg winter magic.