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July 21, 2019

Fascinating Ganga Choti becomes famous tourist destination


July 21, 2019

GANGA CHOTI: The thrilling sense of reaching a less discovered sensational 9987-foot Ganga Choti in Bagh is creating unending enthusiasm among large number of tourists who find it one of the most scenic and charming natural beauty spots of the world.

Though local people were fully aware of its natural attractive landscape but the tourists had mostly no proper knowledge even about its existence until some groups occasionally found this place last year and informed other people using social media and other digital communication tools.

The Ganga Choti is 18 kilometres away from Sudhan Gali (Bagh) and 64 kilometres away from AJK Capital City Muzaffarabad and offers beautiful view of tree-covered range of high mountains in all its directions.

The tourists who are coming from all parts of Pakistan even Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan first reach basecamp that is originally four kilometres away from the Ganga Choti. Then they have to walk by foot to reach top of this peak also passing through two under construction link roads.

According to the contractors, both these roads -- one from Kopra to Ganga Choti and other from Jabarh to Bakhalq near top of the peak -- would be completed till September providing tourists with better access to this recreational spot. There are now also horses available at the base camp for those tourists especially children and women who find it hard to reach the peak by foot.

Muhammad Rashid, who came there from Mirpur with his family members for whole the season, said they have ten horses and they charge Rs600 for one way ride to the tourists.

“We also sell goats to the tourists who bring with them stoves and gas cylinders to cook food and enjoy it amid beautiful weather conditions,” he said.

It is pertinent to mention here that Prime Minister Imran Khan has also stated that the tourism is a fast-track means to earn much needed foreign exchange and a perfect remedy for poverty alleviation in the country. Temperature in the area often ranges from 10 to 20 degrees centigrade but when it rains then the tourists have to use warm clothes and thick jackets to brave the chilly weather.

A single tent for a family is given at Rs1,200 but most of the tourists use them only during the daytime because they return back before the sunset due to cold weather conditions. Hout Baloch, who came from Dera Murad Jamali (Balochistan) with a group of tourists, told this correspondent that when they came to know about Ganga Choti they decided to visit this place.

“I can say with authority that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world but unfortunately we have been totally unaware about it,” he said.

Sabir Awan, a stall holder, said it is really unbelievable that he now earns more than Rs2,000 every day by selling snacks, cold drinks, tea and qahwa as more and more people are continuously coming to this place.

A local person named Najmuddin said there was a pond having a radius of three kilometres near Ganga Choti in the past and the people belonging to all religions used to visit this place to perform rituals.

AJK Minister for Information and Tourism Raja Mushtaq Ahmad Minhas told The News that a modern guesthouse costing Rs80 million would be built at the base camp of the Ganga Choti for which necessary modalities are being sorted out to initiate this project in the coming months.

“Ganga Choti is undiscovered treasure trove of natural beautiful and a large number of people had started visiting this spot from the start of this summer season. Keeping in view the interest of the tourists we are also planning to build a hiking track to the top of the peak,” he said.

Dilating upon the prospects of the tourism in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir he said they are pursuing many projects under comprehensive Tourism Corridor Programme under which many archaeological sites would also be preserved with the help of the international experts.

He informed that an international paragliding event would be held at tourist spot Pir Chenasi from September 27 to October 3 and the paragliders from 50 countries would take part in this event that is expected to be witnessed by almost one-and-half lakh people from all over the country.