s heavy snowfall blankets the picturesque landscapes of Gurez in north Kashmir’s Bandipora, a creative endeavor to promote winter tourism and the spirit of winter sports turned the frozen fields into cricket pitches, with the mesmerizing scenes of cricketers clad in winter gear have garnered widespread attention and praise.
The unique visuals of snow cricket in Gurez have become a viral sensation, with the images and videos of cricket enthusiastic on the snow-covered fields flooding social media. The majestic visuals of snow-cricket are being shared widely by sports enthusiasts and travel lovers and are contributing to the promotion of Gurez as a winter destination.
“Gurez holds immense potential for winter sports activities, however, what is crucial to unlock this potential is the government’s attention. From skiing to the unique snow cricket, Gurez can be transformed into a vibrant winter hub,” Aijaz Ahmed, a social activist, said.
The initiative is being taken by the local Army unit, introducing the winter activities and has received an overwhelming response. There is a need for administrative measures, especially the Youth Services and Sports department, to provide the necessary push to amplify these winter activities, he said.
Aijaz believes the initiative opens up opportunities for increased tourism interest and highlights the region’s potential to attract visitors seeking unique and offbeat experiences.
Similarly, Ilyas Ahmed — engaged in commentary for the past 15 years, told KNO that commentating on snow cricket is truly a unique and great experience for him. “Witnessing players and fellow commentators donning winter gadgets makes it a one-of-a-kind spectacle which adds charm to the game,” Ahmed said.
Snow Cricket Premier League initiative is fantastic and highly appreciable, with Gurez — located some 50 km away from Bandipora headquarters and close to Line of Control (LoC) often remaining cut off due to heavy snow, activities like snow cricket are keeping people especially our youth engaged and excited, he said.
The tournament launched at Dawar in Gurez last week had around 16 participatory teams across the sub-division. “This is not just a game, but a shield against negativity, as it keeps our youth away from anti-social activities,” another local from Dawar Gurez said.
Meanwhile, as the heavy snowfall led to the closure of the Bandipora-Gurez road, the district administration of Bandipora has started helicopter services to mitigate the emergency. As per reports, hundreds of passengers have been airlifted between Bandipora and Gurez since Tuesday last week.
Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Shakeel Ul Rehman said they are taking up measures and initiatives for winter tourism in Gurez on a war footing. Promotion of tourism is the top priority of the administration and efforts are being made to make Gurez a top tourist destination. During the last financial year, Gurez witnessed an impressive influx of around 50,000 tourists, he said.
The DC also said that they are actively identifying suitable land for the establishment of a 5-star hotel in Gurez, aiming to elevate the tourism infrastructure and provide visitors with premium accommodations.
“We have initiated helicopter services in Gurez, catering to both emergency needs and the tourists. This service is available at regular charges for tourists and subsidized rates for locals,” he said, adding that they have successfully evacuated 108 individuals in need via their helicopter services, connecting Gurez to Bandipora.