The up coming Tourist Resort Dhera Ki Gali

KD Maini
Dhera Ki Gali, popularly known as DKG is one of the best health resorts and hill stations of Jammu province situated on Mughal Road. It is 49 km away from Poonch town, 41 km from Rajouri town and 56 km from Pir Panjal pass. As this attractive and beautiful scenic nature blessed track is located at 7300 feet above the sea level, the climatic condition are very cool and pleasant. This spot falls in Ratan Panjal mountainous range, the offshoot of Pir Panjal. The whole Rajouri district and Suran valley is visible from DKG while the overlooking view of snow covered Pir Panjal Pass (11400 feet), Tata Kutti peak (15500 feet) and Panjtarni Merg (9300 feet) is very thrilling and marvellous from this place.
Dhera Ki Gali is known for the Dheras (Halting station) of tribal people who reach this spot with their flocks of sheep, goats, horses, baggage and luggage. They pitch their tentes and convert this place into Dheras for few days while migrating to Dhoks and Mergs or returning from the upper reaches. Therefore the name of the station has become popular as Dhera Ki Gali.
DKG hill from top to bottom is covered with dense forest of kiol, oaks, pine and other trees. The most attractive species of tree is Rhododendron (Hardulli) which remains full of maroon coloured bunches of flower during summer season. There are a number of small meadows with lush a green grasses. The distinct tribal life style with unique dresses and movement of flocks creates lot of hustle bustle in these meadows.The wild life like leopard, bear, dear, langur are found relaxing and wandering in thick forest areas during day time. The movement of birds like, pigeon, chakors and titter from tree to tree, the off springs of multi coloured sparrows and the sounds of wild animals makes the forest alive and thrilling. Therefore the densely forested DKG is the only spot alongside the old Mughal road which has tremendous eco-tourist potential.
With the increase of vehicular movement on DKG road due to opening of Mughal Road and pressure from the local habitants residing in the surrounding areas, there is a serious threat from timber smugglers who always remain busy in destroying the forest, its wildlife and extraction of minor forest product. Since there is no industrial activity in this area, the commercial avenues or negligible and unemployment problem among the youth residing is very acute. Therefore they indulge in smuggling of timber, firewood by cutting green trees, killing wild animals and extracting minor forest product to earn their livelihood.
Keeping in view the tourist potential of DKG and threat to the forest from the habitants residing near the forest area, the forest department took a bold decision in 2009 to convert DKG as eco-tourism resort with the active participation and involvement of the habitants residing around DKG forest. Accordingly the Forest Minister Mian Altaf Ahmed approved a project of Rs. 2.40 crores for this spot. The project was conceived and monitored properly. Most of the objects came up within one year including three wooden tourist huts, three ethnic huts, five viewing decks, path ways, approach roads and bridle paths apart from minor engineering works. The other facilities for eco-tourist lovers like, display of folklore, paying guest facilities in traditional houses, watch and ward, and pony service have also been conceived to create income generating avenues for the local habitants. The eco-tourist resort DKG was inaugurated by the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in July 2010 and an eco-tourism Mela was inaugurated by Forest Minister Mian Altaf Ahmed on 18 June 2011 to create awareness among the public, popularize local cuisine, traditional dresses, sufina kalam of the area, local handicraft and handlooms and provide ethnic residential facilities to eco-tourist lovers at this resort. Three ethnic huts with local furniture and cuisine were also inaugurated during the Mela. Simultaneously DKG eco-tourism society comprises of a forest officer and the residents of nearby habitations like Topa, Sultan Gada, Bangai, Baral, Dhurian, Funtain was organized to involve youth in watch and ward, pony service, running of cafeterias, Khewa Khanas, establishing of local cousin facilities in tents, and paying guest facilities in their houses for eco tourist lovers. It was ensured that all the activities that would be taken place under eco-tourism shall be done with the active participation of local people, so that apart from the development of tourism and protection of DKG forest, the life style of the neglected people residing in this far flung and remote area could be improved. Since local habitants have been fully involved in eco-tourism activities, therefore now it is in their interest to protect the forest, wild life and minor forest products of DKG because due to these attractions more and more eco-tourist lovers shall visit this resort. Apart from eco-tourism, DKG can also be converted in to the base camp for adventurous tourism because the routes towards the valley of seven lakes, Girjan Marg, Kag Allana Peak and Tata Kutti top are leading from this very spot.
Day by day DKG eco-tourist resort has started attracting more and more tourists. During last two years 9000 tourist visited this resort, enjoyed the natural scenic beauty, local cuisine, folklore and cool climatic conditions. One group of eco-tourist lovers of Hyderabad have already visited this resort and opened the doors to the tourist from outside the state. The tourist and passengers have also started their journey from Srinagar to Jammu via Mughal Road to avoid inconvenience on Srinagar Jammu national highway. Therefore there is need of more infrastructure facilities like construction of tourist huts, establishment of tented colonies, ethnic huts, paying guest facilities in the houses of nearby residents and pony service for expeditions towards the valley of seven lakes and trekking peaks so that this beautiful attractive scenic spot DKG could become a center of eco-tourism.