Excelsior Sports Correspondent
GUREZ, Sept 3: A grand Gurez Festival was organised here by the Department of Tourism in collaboration with District Administration Bandipora and J&K Academy of Art Culture and Languages (JKAACL) to celebrate the recently awarded best off-beat tourist destination of India and to enhance and promote tourism to this Virgin valley.
The major attraction of the day-long festival was a ‘Horse Polo’ match which was played between two teams of local youth. Elders in the area said that it was after around six decades that they have seen a ‘Polo match, being played in Gurez again. They appreciated the initiative of the Tourism Department and District Administration for organising and reviving the age-old tradition of Horse Polo in Gurez, besides other adventure and water sports activities like Rafting, Kayaking, Cycling, Mountain Biking, Trekking, All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) were organised during the festival.
Performances by artists from JKAACL in many dying and shrinking dialects like Sheena, Dardi, Pahari were performed during the festival.
Speaking on the occasion, Director Tourism, Dr G N Itoo said that the Tourism Department has been promoting Gurez through a sustained and coordinated mechanism for the last two years which yielded results recently in the destination being awarded as the best offbeat tourist spot in the country by a national publication.
Deputy Commissioner, Bandipora, Dr Owais Ahmad congratulated the people of Gurez for being awarded the best off-beat tourist destination award recently at a Tourism Conclave at the national capital. He said youth are main stakeholders in tourism promotion in Gurez Valley as tourism not only provides enjoyment but also employment to youth.
Earlier, under the initiative of Adventure tourism, the Deputy Commissioner along with Director Tourism flagged-off groups of students for various adventure activities like Kayaking, Rafting, and Trekking.
The stakeholders were felicitated by the organizers at the end of the festival.
The festival was attended by DDC members Gurez and Tulail, BDC members, Commander 109 Brigade Dawar, Pranav Kumar; SSP Mohammad Zahid; ADC Bandipora, Waseem Raja; senior officers of District administration and Tourism Department and other concerned officers.