Gurez: The Gurez Festival, 2017, was organized by the Ministry of Tourism in order to promote the place as a tourist destination. The Director of tourism, Mehmood Ahmad Shah gave the inaugural speech at the event and said that Gurez has a lot of potential to evolve as an adventurous tourist destination.
The director also urged for better infrastructural facilities. He also asked for support from army so that various trekking routes become accessible to tourists and thanked the Tourism department for such an initiative.
Situated at an altitude of 2580 meters above sea level, Gurez has a total population of 37,992.
DC Bandipora Sajad Hussain, in his address said that Gurez has a lot of potential. “Water sports, trekking and cycling can become main attraction of the place,” he said.
Besides being a sports destination, Gurez is known for its mesmerizing beauty, the famous Habaa Khatoon peak and at places small hamlets like Ismarg, SheikhPora, Tulail etcetera. The local language spoken is Shina and Dardi.
The inaugural function also had cultural programs performed by famous Karam Buland Folk Theater and internationally acclaimed band Irfan – Bilal. The traditional Shina folk dance remained to be the main attraction of the event.
Nazir Ahmad Khan Gurezi, the MLA of Gurez, also spoke on the occasion and thanked the people of Gurez for their presence at the event. He also acknowledged the fact that Gurez is still in the infant stage of development.
Gurez is under Army control and the road development is their forte. Gurezi in his speech said that since the Defense controls everything in Gurez, it’s their duty to build the road because bad roads are the biggest problem the area is facing.
He also requested the Minister for Tourism Priya Sethi to establish a Development Authority. He, in his speech reminded the present coalition government about Late Mufti Sayed’s promise, “Jenab Late Mutfi Sahab promised me that he will establish a development authority in Gurez and it’s his dream”.
He also asked the media people to come forward and promote Gurez as a tourist destination. “Gurez is a virgin place and I invite people to explore it because other places like Sonamarag, Gulmarag and many more are overrated now.”
Priya Sethi, Minister for Tourusin and Culture in her speech also thanked the people of Gurez for coming to the festival. She also acknowledged the fact the Gurez has poor connectivity and bad infrastructure and it needs a lot of support to emerge as a tourist destination.
Priya Sethi is concerned about the unnatural change in the weather and urges people to avoid artificial interference in the same. “Weather is a natural phenomenon and we as humans should not interfere in its process. Let the natural process prevail”.
The festival had many cultural programs and these programs presented an overall picture of the Kashmir culture with a special focus on the traditional Folk dance of Gurez, local songs and its indigenous musical instruments.
The festival worked as a platform for local artists like Bilal Amhad and Altaf Hussain, who showcased their talent. Bilal and Altaf have a passion for music and they have been trying hard to learn it despite the hardship they face being from a place that still lacks internet facility, road connectivity and access to basic amenities.
Bilal, a passionate singer is in 10th standard and the love of music brought him to Shri Jeen Music Gallery to learn the basics of music and back in Gurez where he was joined by Altaf, who is a beginner, vocalist and guitarist.
Born and brought up in the lap of nature, both connect very well to the sounds of nature and find music in every sound from chirping of birds to sounds made by wind and the breeze and the buzzing wild bees.
Gurez festival also opened up a new window for the local female singers who performed the local folk song on the inaugural day. The 3 day festival was an amazing experience for the people of Gurez wherein they could showcase their talent to the outer world.
The people of Gurez are hopeful the such events will also happen in the future and connect them to the outer world.