The high-altitude Jaie Valley meadows near the picturesque Bhaderwah in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district has emerged as a favourite destination for picnickers this season, officials said. A record four lakh tourists, including 1.20 lakh students, visited the valley — which lies at an altitude of 7,850 feet, 30 kilometres from Bhaderwah — between May and September, Additional Deputy Commissioner Dilmir Chowdhary said. Surrounded by coniferous deodar forests, the valley has a nearly nine-kilometre-long meadow, bisected by a stream that merges with a tributary of the Chenab at Kahara.
“Over 1.20 lakh students from 385 schools, colleges and other educational institutions came to Jaie Valley for picnics from May 1 to September 9, making it the most visited high-altitude destination by students in the Jammu region,” Chowdhary told. In addition, more than three lakh tourists from within and outside Jammu and Kashmir visited the valley during the same period.
“We have recorded over one lakh additional visitors to the valley this season compared to previous years,” the official said. The massive footfall has turned the fortunes of locals, especially the tribal migrant Gujjar community that traditionally resides in these grasslands with their cattle during the summers. Mohd Hussain Chechi, the lumberdar of the valley’s tribal population, said the massive tourist inflow has turned fortune in their favour, that too at their doorstep.
“This is no less than magic … for the first time in my life, we are selling our produce (milk and milk products) from the meadows itself and that too at a very good price, without incurring extra cost on transportation to the towns,” Chechi said. He said the tribal population is earning extra as nearly 30 Gujjar youngsters offer pony rides to the visitors. Several others have opened small makeshift shops, eateries and tent house accommodations in these meadows.
The students and their teachers also seem to be in awe of the mundane beauty of the high-altitude meadows and want to return in the future. “The visit to Jaie Valley was a complete package in the form of gushing water bodies, lush green meadows, tall coniferous trees, horse rides, pure organic food and pleasant weather,” said 27-year-old Shivali Parihar, a schoolteacher from Khellani.
She is completely smitten by the beauty of the place. “This time, I am here with my students for a school picnic but I will return soon with my family,” she added. Thirteen-year-old Khadeeja, a student from Doda, said this is the best and most easily accessible picnic spot in the Chenab region. “We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt in the water, played cricket, rode ponies and danced in the cool weather. I simply love Jaie Valley,” she said.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.