KUD-A paradise undiscovered

Dr Vaini Gupta

Few years back I got an opportunity to serve in the Education Department in a beautiful hill station Kud of our district Udhampur . Kud, a place whose name when uttered, surely makes one wallow into the aroma of a special toothsome sweet called Patisa. A famous poet Keats once wrote “A Thing of beauty is a joy forever” and while serving here I assurely felt that the place with its immense beauty is a source of joy for one and all. Enquiring about the origin of the name of this place from locals (Mtr. Maheen, Mr Ashwini, Mr Kewal and Mr Sanjay), I was told that this place derived its name from the local folk dance “Kudd” that is performed yearly by locals of this place to please their local deities. Topographically, Kud is a small town located in lower Himalayas , about 8 kms away from the famous hill station Patnitop. The temperature here ranges from-4 to 8 degrees in winters to 21 to 35 degrees in summers with orographic rains from July to September. The place is marked by picturesque beauty with gentle slopes. It has abundance of wild flora like Deodar, Safeda (Eucalyptus), Banj, Moru (Oak), Druni(Wild pomegranate), Kainth ( Himalayan pear), Figs, Apples, Persimmon etc and fauna like foxes, mongoose, leopards, bears, wild hare, snakes, wild fowls etc. The place proves itself to be different among indifferents which is revealed in the flavour and nourishment of soil and serenity of its environment. The seasonal crop of potatoes, maize, radish, knol kohl, apples, pears, persimmon etc have exquisite taste absorbed from the soil that is relished by everyone. A few variety of wild flowers (Banaksha) grown here have great antioxidant properties and medicinal values and hence used by locals to treat fever and other ailments. Guchhi( Morchella), a rare wild fungus specie is found in the hills.
Attraction to the tourists The first major attraction of Kud is Patisa, which is a flaky sweet made in desi ghee and is unique to this place. Although, Patisa is available in various places of India but it is considered that the taste, lusher and aroma found in Kud Patisa is unique to this place and not found anywhere. Another major attraction is the recent development of Tulip garden in the highland park established by Department of Floriculture where tulips of 5 different colours are grown and thus attract nature lovers. Also, a few kms uphill the Kud, is a famous cave and temple of Baba Cheto, also known as Kud wale baba. The temple is famous among the locals as they consider that their wishes get fulfilled here and the prasad in the for of Rutt ( made of wheat flour and jaggery) is also very famous among them. Mandalote, a place near Kud is now growing a variety of flowers, thus, adding charm to its beauty.Also, a Kali Mata mandir and a Shiv temple, popularly known as Chhota Mani Mahesh is located here. Lying in the turns of Kud (Tamatar Morh), is a new attraction in the form of Airplane restaurant with all the facilities of dining thus a boost to attract tourism. However having so much to attract, Kud still lags in attracting tourists. Potential unutilized: Undoubtedly, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookherji tunnel also called Nashri tunnel solved the problem of highway obstruction during snowfall, however, it also bypassed Kud and thus Kud evaporated from the sight of tourists. It impacted the local business and daily hustle bustle of tourists and thus Kud remained ignored from the eyes of Tourism Ministry. Although having so much to showcase, Kud is still striving to present its multifaceted allure varying from nature tourism to a wellness retreat. A great potential of Kud can and must be utilized ranging from its nature beauty to natural availabilities. Impetus must be given to the yield increment of plants naturally growing there like apples, persimmons etc. Local farmers must be given training of increasing the yield of their crops by making them aware of the latest cultivation methods and techniques. Druni ( wild pomegranate), an underutilised fruit with great health benefits is found in ample hereb. It yields anaardana which is relished by all of us in our cuisines and tasty chutnies. The seeds of Druni are found to have antioxidants which help to combat inflammation and free radical damage. Moreover, the outer peels/ rind of this fruit is a rich wellspring of bioactive mixtures with antioxidants and anti microbial properties like phenolic, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins etc( Cruz Valenzuela et al. (2022), Foods,11,2588). All these have great role in cancer prevention, improvement of liver and kidney function, prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular disease and also can be used as natural preservatives. Thus, all these properties reveal the nutraceutical, pharmacological and functional food additive property of this fruit and this fruit if properly utilised and cultivation if given impetus can improve the economic state of the people there. Again as we all are aware that recently under CSIR-Aroma mission (2018), lavender cultivation has been boosted in Bani. Since, similar climatic conditions are found in Kud highland,therefore an initiative to start Purple revolution regarding lavender cultivation must be given emphasis here. Also, the Tulip cultivation must be enhanced in more areas of Kud and more advertisement should be done to attract tourists to this place. Another source of income and employment could be the Homestays which must be emphasised so that the tourists lured by the beauty of the place must also get proper stay with meals in the hills only. The Government under the aegis of the scheme Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grih-Awas (Homestay) Yojana must aware and support the locals in this venture. Thus, my writing is a kind of appeal to the Tourism Ministry to move its vision towards this little known paradise and both offline and online platforms must be set for proper advertisement, ticket booking, data dissemination for improving comfort and gaining trust of visitors.
(The author is Lecturer Zoology)