God has been generous in endowing our state of J&K with rich natural wealth and matchless beauty. No wonder our state is called the ‘Paradise on the earth’ as there are high snowcapped mountains, lush green pastures, bubbling springs, rivers having crystal clear water and serpentine slopes.
Tall coniferous trees on the mountains look like sentries to protect our state. What more can a human heart desire! That is why lacs of tourists visit various captivating tourist spots in the Kashmir division of our state such as Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonamarg, Leh etc , enjoy breathtaking beauty and carry in their minds sweetest memories which remain etched in their minds for years together.Similarly, in Jammu region, we have world famous tourist spots such as Patni top, Sanasar, Bhaderwah ,Mansar, Surinsar etc which are thronged by visitors from across the country..In Udhampur district too, there are tourists spots like Panchari, Moungri etc which have not received as much attention as ought to have been by the successive governments. Among various regions of Udhampur whose tourist potential has not been exploited one is Latti-Dudu region.There are a number of tourist spots in this region which have matchless beauty and salubrious environs.Latti, the tehsil headquarter located about 85Kms from Udhampur is a beautiful tourist spot.It is nestled in the pristine and virgin natural environs endowed with breathtaking beauty.Surrounded by mountains having coniferous forests, the Deodar trees seem to be acting like sentries to guard the virgin forests from the ever capracious eyes of man.From Udhampur the tourists have to pass through pictursque Chenani, Beshti, Basht, Gauri Kund with road lined on both sides by pine trees.Then there comes the religious town of Sudhmahadev which is famous for Lord Shiva temple having references in scriptures.After travelling through Bupp and Sira , one reaches Latti which is a small town having Tehsil Head quarters.It is surrounded by mountains which are often covered under thick blanket of snow for a large part of the year.As such, there is little vegetation and the topline is naked without any trees.But there is thick vegetation at the baseline.Tehsil Latti extends to as much as Shivgali and to Marothi.The Panchayat Halqas of Chapper, Jakhed and Pachound have dense coniferous forests and rich biodiversity. Moreover, there are many other spots of tourist importance.There is Kirtchi which is likened to Switzerland.It is a Model village surrounded by snowcapped mountains and sandwitched between two rivers.The rivers are full of aquatic wealth including trout fish.The gushing crystal clear water of the two rivers adds to the beauty of the place, especially at the confluence.
Then there is widely reverred ancient shrine of Lord Vasuki Nag at Dudu.It is a wooden shrine having beautiful carvings of Lord Vasuki Nag and other deitiesNestled among the tall and shady Maaru trees, it attracts a large number of devotees throughout the year. Pilgrimage to Kailashkund in Bhaderwah originates from this place.There is a beautiful and enchanting waterfall near the shrine, which presents an enchanting view, soothing the body and soul of the tourists.Another less known tourist resort in this beautiful region is Seoz Dhar which is spread over a large area.It receives heavy snowfall in winter and is believed to have rare herbs including the Sanjeevni Booti of medicinal importance.There are remains of monuments believed to have been built by Pandavas. Few people know that it is the snow glacier of Seoz Dhar which gives birth to river Tawi flowing from Dudu and finally reaching Jammu.It has a lot of tourist potential, especially in Summer, when plain areas of Northern sizzle under the scorching heat and people look for regions having cool and refreshing climate.Therefore, if developed, it can attract a large number of tourists, which can boost the local economy. Chari Bangla is yet another tourist spot worth seeing. Shvigali is another captivating place which presents a panaromic view of high mountains on either side.On one side, the tourists can view the mountains of Pachound, Latti, Ghar Katyas etc bordering with Bhaderwah while the mountains bordering with Himachal Pradesh and Bani (Kathua) present a rich view of biodiversity and rich forest wealth.There are two temples at Shivgali.One can bask in the sun during winter or sit on the lush green slopes in summer and enjoy Nature at its best.A three day Mela is also held at Shivgali in summer.
This region is also rich in wildlife and biodiversity.As there are thick coniferous forests,It has a large no of wild animals such as black bear,leopard, birds of game and trees such as banj , moru, kaimblu as well as rare ferns, gutshi, kasror etc.There is very high potential for floriculture and horticulture in the region as the climatic conditions of Latti are just like those in Kashmir.The almond trees, apple, etc can be cultivated and vegetables such as rajmaash, tomato, knolkhol etc can be grown across Latti tehsil to boost the local economy.There is also need to introduce cable car in this region to boost tourism.This region is also ideal for conducting trekking activities from Dera top to Shivgali..As there are dense forests in the region which provide shelter to the wild animals, there have been cases of animal-man conflict.So there is need to establish a sanctuary in this region to provide safe shelter to the wild life and protect the rich biodiversity.
Thus, this region has many scenic spots and mesmerising springs and hills and huge tourist potential which needs to be harnessed.According to newspaper reports, thousands of tourists from Jammu, Udhampur, Ramban, Doda, Katra, Samba, Kathua, Punjab and several other state are visiting the scenic spots of this region to enjoy the unparalled natural beauty.More footfall of tourists can be attracted if the vital roadlink road connecting Chenani to Latti and Basantgarh is upgraded and blacktopped to enable the tourists to have a safe and enjoyable journey to this beautiful paradise.
(The writer is serving as lecturer in English, Govt.Hr. Sec. School, Thial (Udhampur)