"Kashmir Offroad" travel group throngs scenic tourist village of Ketson in B’pora
Post by Shafat Malik on Thursday, January 5, 2023
Bandipora, Jan 04: Tucked away in the verdant hills of North Kashmir's Bandipora district, adjacent to Kupwara district, the picturesque hamlet of Ketson recently earned its first bout of fame when the "Kashmir Offroad" travel group descended upon it following its recognition by the J&K government as tourist village.
“Kashmir Offroad”, India's premier overland adventure provider renowned for exploring least-visited and undiscovered regions of the Western Himalayas, flocked to the Ketson Village which was recently pinpointed by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha as a tourist village.
Sinha launched a tourist village network under which 75 villages known for historical, picturesque beauty, and cultural significance were identified to transform these picturesque villages into tourist villages.
Founder of "Kashmir offroad", Ali Sajid, upon visiting the Ketson tourist village, told Rising Kashmir that picturesque destinations such as Ketson village carry a massive capacity for eco-tourism and is a paradise for thrill-seekers. It is a destination for those sightseers and daredevils who are seeking an authentic cultural experience and raw adventure in the mountains, he stated.
Sajid declared that the local inhabitants are largely cognizant of the concept of eco-tourism and homestays and the community is fairly congenial to the prospect of visitors coming to the village and utilising local accommodations as this can generate supplemental revenue for locals throughout the year.
"During our tour of Ketson village, we were met with warm hospitality from the locals, and were astounded by the traditions and reception that we received. We had the pleasure of tasting home-cooked meals and local delicacies", Sajid expressed, noting that the homes were kept neat and tidy, and most had access to a decent restroom, which is to be expected when traveling to such places.
Farah Zaidi, Co-founder of Kashmir offroad, told Rising Kashmir that all the villages they've explored in Kashmir are unique in terms of culture, lifestyle, and cuisine. "Ketson village stands out in terms of its cuisine, and we were able to gain insight into their culture through their traditional music and dancing, which reveals the potential of cultural tourism there," she remarked.
"Our expeditions are an essential component of our mission to encourage eco-tourism, homestays, and sustainable touristic practices in the lesser-known regions of Kashmir", Farah declared, emphasizing that creating durable sources of income through engaging local communities would remain their key priority for this year.
The undulating verdant hills and azure watering spots create a picturesque scene for the two thousand inhabitants of Ketson village, a figure that locals anticipate will rise in the imminent future as they are actively engaged in making basic amenities to travelers and to welcome them for the upcoming tourist season.
A total of sixty households of Ketson have applied for homestay registration after Jammu and Kashmir government issued procedural guidelines for registration of homestays in J&K and sought applications from the residents of tourist villages for homestay registrations, said Shabnam Bashir Gojer Chechi, who played a significant role in bringing this tribal hamlet Ketson on tourism map.
Shabnam said that with the intention of offering cultural tourism, a band of locals has been trained so that they can exhibit the culture and heritage of the tribal communities to the sightseers and continued that upon the travellers entering the village, they will be presented with the varied customs of the tribal culture so that they can be conscious of the culture and way of life here in addition to untouched beauty of the village.
Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Dr Owais Ahmed told Rising Kashmir that District administration had extended every available assistance to the people of Ketson to maximize the tourism prospects of the hamlet and to revive and sustain the culture and traditions of the tribal community.
Owais said that two hundred locals have been given physical health accreditations for their steeds from the Animal Husbandry department Bandipora to create jobs for them so they can lead the tourists to the tucked away, vibrant green meadows of Ketson and will offer an astonishing experience for nature-lovers.
The recently held Ketson tribal celebration was intended to reinvigorate and safeguard tourism in the village as well as publicizing its particular conventional games, culture and especially the practices of the tribal people, he added.