A man walks in a pathway filled with autumn leaves in Kashmir.
In the chirp of cicadas and the croak of frogs, the message at the moment is unmistakable. Kashmir's golden yellow season, autumn is here. But, where are the tourists?
Trees laden with apples, pears and apricots, vineyards with drooping branches full of grapes, fields lush with melons and vegetables, and golden grain ripening in the countryside are nature's bounties heralding the arrival of autumn in the Valley.
Autumnal nip in the morning and evening air has since times immemorial made this season irresistible for honeymooners, mountaineers, fun lovers and adventure seekers.
The bad news this year is that hotels and houseboats on the Dal and Nageen lakes in Srinagar city, as well as huts and hotels in the hill stations of Sonamarg, Gulmarg and Pahalgam are all shut.
The tourism blackout in Kashmir started after all visitors left the Valley ahead of the ongoing uncertainty that followed the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status.
This uncertainty has dealt the death blow to the local tourism industry as hoteliers, guest house and houseboat owners, taxi drivers, shikarawallas and tour and travel operators have all been thrown out of business.
"A film city is also proposed to be set up to woo Bollywood back to its favourite locations in Kashmir.
There are other big plans to ensure that tourism in Kashmir regains its lost glory," said a top government official.
The severe blow taken by the tourism industry in the Valley has impacted hoteliers, travel operators and taxi owners in Jammu as well.
Kashmir without any tourist in autumn is unimaginable. And yet, it is the reality with which the locals might have to live till the snow of the ensuing winter melts during the next year's spring.
Indo-Asian News Service
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