Epicentre of stone-pelting is all set to charm the tourists and pilgrims in restive Kashmir. Thanks to the new cable-car connecting the centuries-old shrine of revered Sufi saint Hazrat Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom, the sensitive old city of Srinagar will come alive with tourists and pilgrims.
Constructed at a cost of Rs6.50 crore, the 594 meter ropeway will be able to ferry 275 passengers per hour in the old city.
Work on the rope way started in 2010, when azadi groundswell had swept Kashmir. Three years on the ropeway is ready to be dedicated to the nation.
“This ropeway will be an added attraction for the tourists who will get a chance not only to visit the shrine but other heritage monuments like Hariparabat fort et al. Plus the tourists can get a chance to visit the famous Badamwari garden (almond alcove),” Talat Parvez, director tourism Kashmir told dna.
Located at the height of 53 meter from the ground, the Makhdoom Sahib ropeway, connecting Malkah to the shrine, will have eight cabins on both lines. As many as 16 persons can travel at a time and each ride will take four minutes. This is the second ropeway in Kashmir and first at the pilgrim site in the state. Gandola in the ski resort of Gulmarg is the world’s highest ropeway.
“Everyone (tourists) does not want to go to Gulmarg and wait in long queues for a ride in Gandola.
Plus it costs Rs1,000 for a ride in Gulmarg. And here it will be an alternative for tourists who can enjoy the ride in hardly 100 bucks,” said Talat.
The ropeway is a part of the bigger plan of Omar Abdullah government to put the sensitive old city of Srinagar on a tourism map. Old city is home to some of the oldest heritage sites, revered shrines and traditional handicrafts.
Separatist sentiment runs deep in the downtown or the old city. Old Srinagar has been the epicentre of the 2010 azadi groundswell. Hundreds of people were killed or injured in the security forces action on the protesters and stone-throwers in 2010 agitation.
Hundreds of youth including juveniles have been arrested by the security forces on the charges of stone pelting.
“We are working on a Naagar Nagar project to promote tourism in Shaher-e-Khas. The area has rich historic sites which we are refurbishing,” said Talat. Under the Naagar Nagar Heritage Conservation Project, J&K government is spending Rs38 crore on renovation and repairs of Hari Parbat Wall, Eco Park, Monument, Dara Shikva Hamam and Zakir Masjid.