An entrepreneurial local transforms Rafiabad into a popular tourist attraction
An entrepreneurial local transforms Rafiabad into a popular tourist attraction

Rafiabad: All day Residents of the Rafiabad region of the Baramulla district in north Kashmir showed enormous excitement for the Ladu-Ladoora summer festival, which was held on Wednesday.

A sense of optimism for a better future and opportunities on a broad scale of the tourism sector has begun to emerge among the locals, especially among the unemployed youths, as deputy commissioner Baramulla announced the administration’s resolve to put at least 20 locations in the region on the tourist map, including the ambitious plan to promote religious tourism across the Baramulla district.


Munddaji, Vijitop, Shranz, Drang, Rajpora Rampora, Parihaspora, and the Qazi Nag National Park are just a few of the district’s undiscovered tourism attractions. Along with the promotion of religious tourism, shrines to Baba Shakoor-U-Din, Baba Fareed, Markazi Imam Bara Ahmadpora, Sakhi Janbazwali, and Gurdwara Chatti Padshahi Baramulla have gained prominence. Additionally, Sopore’s Meeras Mahal, Gulnar Park’s Eco Park, and other picturesque parks will be highlighted as serene retreats for unwinding and experiencing nature.

Around 77 villages make up the Rafiabad region of the Baramulla district in north Kashmir. It is said that Khawja Muhammad Yousuf Shah, a Syrian sufi saint, created the area 400 years ago. Along with being the Baramulla district’s apple-growing region, Rafiabad is also surrounded by nature. With its wide territory covered in woods, beautiful green meadows, and serpentine streams flowing from glaciers, Rafiabad is the most underutilised tourist destination in the area.

Despite being ignored by previous administrations, the present administration has taken a strong interest in using the region’s enormous tourist potential. The area is thought to be a sanctuary for hikers if it is advertised well.

The efforts of a local entrepreneur attracted notice.

Raja Sajad, a local who was familiar with the area’s history and trails, discovered in 2008 that the area’s latent potential may improve its fortunes if it were to be exploited.

Raja Sajad began promoting the region’s tourism potential after receiving a licence. He uploaded videos and photos of the area’s untouched natural landscape, lush green meadows of Vijitop, Gabewar, and Tulribal top Suiad waterfall, which caught the attention of people from different states in addition to some foreign tourists, who began asking about the location.

According to Raja Sajad, the only tour operator in the region, “at the same time department of forests started to promote the area for trekkers and prepared some tracks for the visitors.”

Raja Sajad established the idea of “Home Stay” in the hamlet of Ladu Ladoora, which is recognised as the base camp for adventure tourism to several alpines in the region, after seeing the absence of infrastructure for guests.

“I converted my own home for the home stay, and after receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from the people of the country, I converted two more houses of my brothers for the ‘Home Stay’ purpose,” continued Raja Ajaz.

Despite changing weather conditions, Raja Ajaz in the last few years has successfully guided hundreds of tourists which include 650 tourists this year alone besides a group of tourists from Thailand. These travellers were entranced by the area’s unexplored trails, which led to some of the region’s most breathtaking scenery, in addition to lush green meadows and glaciers.

providing former timber smugglers with work options

Numerous young people who were previously engaged in wood smuggling were able to find jobs thanks to Raja Sajad’s efforts to market the region’s unrealized tourist potential. These young people make a respectable income as pony walas. Raja Sajad said with tremendous pride, “Once timber smugglers, now forest protectors.” These pony walas make a good career by transporting visitors in large groups to high elevations.

Sajad, who has extensive experience working as a tour guide and is familiar with the region’s deep woodlands, thinks there is a lot more to discover here.

He said that a respected shrine of a Sufi saint is located in the Satarwan neighbourhood in upper Rafiabad. He said that several individuals from various parts of north Kashmir often visit the location. Besides a fishing pond and facility for boating is available there, however, if a road from Ladua village to Satarwan of 2.5 km is constructed, the visitors especially students and common people can have a different experience of nature blended with entertaining avenues.

Raja Sajad believes that the tourism potential of the area, if fully explored, can transform not only Rafiabad but also the entire Baramulla district. He envisions connecting Satarwan, which houses a revered shrine, with a road to provide easier access to visitors, including schoolchildren and the elderly. He also suggests constructing sitting benches made up of natural trees which have fallen down over the years and are lying in abundance along the route for trekkers to rest.

Enchanting places like Vijitop, with its lush greenery and moderate climate, is nature’s gift for travelers. Additionally, places like Tapyana Sahib Gurdwara, a revered Sikh shrine, should be promoted to attract visitors from India, Canada, and Australia.



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