Remember the famous lines by a great Poet – “If there is heaven on Earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.” It is a well known fact that these lines were spoken in admiration to the beauty of Kashmir. The Valley of Kashmir displays a different face with the change of seasons. Although, the plush greenery and varied flora take the centre stage during summers and in the spring season, the winters in the valley gives a totally different and picturesque version of this heaven on Earth. The valley of Kashmir receives moderate to heavy snowfall in winters between December to March. The dip in temperature results in many unique natural changes which attract tourists from all over the world.Tourism in Kashmir during winter season is a grand reflection of the splendid ski slopes of Gulmarg, the frozen Dal Lake and the icy Peaks of Himalayas to name a few of the grandeurs. Each year during the winter season, the valley receives tourists in the tune of lakhs so much so that bookings for hotels and resorts are done six to eight months advance and more often than not are oversubscribed. The influx of tourists to the valley is mostly by air although road and rail is also utilized to a great extent.Tourists in the winter season are mostly drawn to the majestic and mystic slopes of Gulmarg and Tangmarg for skiing and other winter sport activities.  The ski slopes of Gulmarg are one of the two (other being in Auli, Uttarakhand) locations which have hosted winter games and boast of a vast and scenic landscape for snow enthusiasts. Gulmarg during winters offers tourist attractions like Ski lift, Gandola ride to the snow clad peaks, Skiing, Snowboarding, ATV rides and other fun rides for all age groups. The limited number of resorts and hotels in Gulmarg and Tangmarg are oversubscribed with tourists occupying and subscribing for accommodation during the period all the way to Srinagar. Although the area of Gulmarg and adjoining locations form the hub of tourism during winters the tourism department in Kashmir has initiated efforts for attracting tourists to other locations in the valley as well. Winter tourism in the upcoming locations like Doodhpatri, Toosmaidan and Yusmarg will get a boost if necessary infrastructure and facilities are made available to the tourists. The potential of these areas and many other locations in the valley has not been fully tapped. The tourism ministry needs to chalk out an elaborate plan to enable visitors broaden their scope of visit and in doing so diversify the scope of tourism in the valley. Efforts need to be directed towards developing new and additional sites for winter tourism so that the tourism in winters gets extended beyond Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonmarg and Srinagar.As per figures available, a total 23 lakhs tourists visited Kashmir till Oct 2022 and the figure is expected to cross 25 lakhs in winter season which includes a great number of foreign tourists. Since tourism in the valley is a dominant factor in boosting economy of the region, it is pertinent and all the more important for the tourism ministry and the State government of the UT of Kashmir to develop a grand plan may be on the lines of places like Switzerland to tap the vast beauty of the valley during winters.  

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