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Adamant on his  endeavour local Tourist Guide Transforms Rafiabad village into Ecotourism Haven
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Adamant on his  endeavour local Tourist Guide Transforms Rafiabad village into Ecotourism Haven

Post by Noor Mohi-ud-din on Saturday, February 18, 2023

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Ladua Ladoora, a picturesque village located 26 kilometers away from the district headquarters in Baramulla district of north Kashmir, is rapidly becoming a popular eco-tourism destination. Covered with tall pine trees, the mud houses and magnanimous view of mountain peaks, the Ladua Ladoora village is called as the Switzerland of Kashmir by the locals and visitors. 
All the credit goes to the efforts made by a local resident Raja Sajad Hussain Khan who worked tirelessly to transform Ladua Ladoora into a thriving tourist hub, showcasing the area's stunning natural beauty and unique cultural heritage.
Sajad, 42,  a registered tourist guide in a conversation with the Rising Kashmir said that Ladua is a centrally located place with six trekking routes towards Vejji top, a famous mountain range in Baramulla district known for its breathtaking views.  
Despite facing numerous challenges along the way, Sajad never gave up on his vision of making Ladu-Ladoora a must-visit destination for tourists and trekkers. 
Through social media campaigns and word-of-mouth recommendations, he has helped to raise awareness about the area's many attractions, including the 9-kilometer Ladua-Vejji trek route, which is considered one of the most beautiful trek routes in all of Kashmir.
"I had this plan to make our area a tourist hub since 2008 but non availability of resources and support from administration halted my way in  achieving the target. It was only after the advent of social media that I could take Ladua-Vejji to the hearts and minds of people," Sajad told Rising Kashmir. 
Ladua-Ladoora is now a thriving hub of activity, with hundreds of tourists and trekkers visiting the area each year to experience its breathtaking scenery, fresh mountain air, and vibrant local culture. 
In 2022, the forest department and tourism department declared the Ladua-Vejji trek route open for tourists and trekkers. 
"In 2022, more than 400 tourists, trekkers including foreign tourists visited the place and were mesmerized by its beauty. They had been to Gulmarg and Pahalgam but after trekking through Ladua-Vejji top, they were all praises for this spot," a forest official told Rising Kashmir. 
Despite the increasing popularity of the area, however, Sajad remains deeply committed to preserving the area's natural beauty and heritage, working with the local community to make Ladua a polythene-free zone and ensuring that any development that takes place is sustainable and in harmony with the environment.
Sajad said that the Ladua-Vejji forest area was prone to timber smuggling but his efforts reduced the smuggling of green gold from this area. 
"As the tourist number is increasing, there was a need for horse packers who could help the tourists, trekkers. I employed 12 horse packers who were earlier involved in timber smuggling. Now they are happy earning a respectable living," Sajad said. 
"Tourism activities generated employment in the area and stopped people from anti-social activities. If the area is developed on ecotourism levels, it will be a harbinger of change for the people living in Rafiabad belt,"  he said
Despite the lack of support from the district administration, Sajad remains optimistic about the future of Ladua-Vejji, and is confident that with the help of the local community and the continued support of visitors, the area will continue to thrive for many years to come.
"We don't need any construction in the area that will disturb the ecosystem here. We don't want macadamised roads but few signboards, tourist huts and support of local administration can be game changer for the people who usually migrate due to non availability of resources," he added. 
The trek route from Ladua to Vejji top which is 3414 mtrs above sea level and is around 9 kilometers long among which 5 kilometers as plain and is considered one of the most beautiful trek routes of Kashmir. 
The area is an abode of Musk Deer, Leopards, Black Bear, Brown Bear, Himalayan Monal, Koklass Pheasant, Khaliji Pheasant and other bird species. 
The area consists of a series of waterfalls, six trek routes and you can have a clear sight of Harmukh peak, Nanga Parbat, Sadhna Top, Toshi Peak, Ganga Choti, Sukhi Sar, Haji Pir and Rustum peak. 
Irfan Rasool Wani (IFS) Conservator of Forests North Kashmir Circle told Rising Kashmir that although there is no guest house at present in Ladua but the department has proposed few forest huts. 
"We have proposed one forest hut for next financial year and we are developing one forest park at Ladua and we are upgrading the existing trekking route," Irfan Rasool said. 
Sajad Khan however said that the village has three homestays approved by the tourism department where tourists and trekkers stay for night. 
So if you're looking for a truly unique and unforgettable travel experience, head to Ladua-Ladoora in Baramulla district and discover the beauty of Kashmir for yourself. 

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