Buoyed by the success of the Gondola project in Gulmarg, the Cable Car Corporation recently conducted a survey in Pahalgam and is preparing a report to be put forth in the board of directors meeting for government approval.
The corporation has made it clear that no trees should be cut for the purpose and wants clearance from the stakeholders.
Pahalgam or the ‘valley of shepherds’, some 90 km from Srinagar, is a picturesque tourist resort in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district situated among lofty hills and evergreen forests.
Pahalgam is also associated with the annual Amarnath Yatra. Chandanwari, located 16 km from Pahalgam, is the starting point of the yatra that takes place every year in the months of July-August, receiving hundreds of thousands of yatris.
Due to its religious significance and role as a basecamp, the town attracts 70 percent of visitors to Kashmir.
This flood of tourists overwhelms some of the local infrastructure, especially waste management in the town. “We carried out a fresh survey in Pahalgam for establishing a cable car,” Managing Director of J&K Cable Car Corporation Ghulam Jeelani Zargar told KIF.
He said that they want no trees to be cut for the project. “The project will be above the tree line,” he said.
Zagar, who is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tourism Development Authority, Gulmarg, said that they were hopeful that it would be approved. “Earlier surveys have been carried out and there would have been a loss of lots of trees,” he said. “For its establishment No Objection Certificates (NOCs) have to be issued by stakeholders including the Forest and Wildlife Department.”
Zargar said most probably it would be from Yatri Niwas to Baisaran. “The aerial length of the route is just below 2 km,” he said. “Baisaran is the same height as the first phase of the Gondola at Gulmarg. The topography of the two places is almost the same. We are preparing a survey report.”
The Baisaran elevation is roughly the same as the first phase of Gulmarg Gondola, which takes a person for approximately 2.5 km to Kongdoori at a height of 8530 feet.
Gulmarg Gondola is popular among the tourists, skiers, and winter sports enthusiasts and is a major attraction to the bowl-shaped meadow.
The tourism stakeholders in Pahalgam are upbeat over the plans.
They said it would be a great addition to Pahalgam tourism and a new trend and that people were demanding the cable car lift for Pahalgam too.
Official records suggest that in 2022, Phalgam recorded a tourist footfall of about 7.89 lakh of which 2.60 lakh were local visitors of J&K.
Gulmarg Gondola, one of the Asia’s largest and highest cable cars located in deep Himalayas near the Line of Control (LoC) in Baramulla district attracts tens of thousands of tourists and die hard skiers and has earned millions of rupees for Jammu and Kashmir since its opening in 1998.
In May 2005, the second phase of the project up to Apharwat Mountain at a height of 13,500 feet, was also thrown open, making it the one of the highest and largest ropeways in Asia having a total aerial distance of 5 km.
The year 2022 witnessed the highest-ever arrival of tourists in Kashmir’s history at 26.5 lakh of which 15.42 lakh made it to Gulmarg, majority of them taking a ride on the Gondola.