Sonamarg, which is known to be one of the crucial health resorts in the district of Ganderbal usually remains closed during the winter season due to the heavy snowfall that takes place in Kashmir. However, this year, the officials and the administration have taken a chance for the first time to keep Sonamarg open for visitors in the months of winter and the place is witnessing a great gathering of tourists. However, the famous health resort is lacking several steps by the government for the upgradation, conservation and beautification of Sonamarg infrastructure.
After the pandemic, the tourism industry is expecting and experiencing the back to normal business to some extent, now that the tourism is open for all again and the opening of Sonamarg during the winter months this year has brought joy and happiness to the hoteliers and all other people associated with the tourism industry. A major attraction for a large number of non-local and local tourists and in the summer season, the place remains crowded with the pilgrims visiting the Amarnath temple who put stay during the annual yatra.
Given the huge rush of the tourists and the Amarnath yatris, the accommodation facilities of the area are very poor.
An important gateway to Ladakh and Amarnath yatra, Sonamarg does not have a proper infrastructure built by the government that can attract more and more visitors to this place. The people related to the tourism sector and the locals have stated that the government has not taken any measures for the beautification of the place. They added that there are no parks to sit and refresh and also, the place has nothing significant to offer the tourists from the upper class.
Relatively formed for the beautification, development and conservation of Sonamarg Health resort, the Sonamarg Development Authority (SDA) was formed in the year 2003, but has failed to enhance and upgrade the beauty of the area. Given the huge rush of the tourists and the Amarnath yatris that take place, the accommodation facilities of the area are very poor. However, according to the data from Greater Kashmir, in the private sector, there are almost 750 rooms for the accommodation of around 1500-2000 people and 250 rooms in the government properties for around 500 people.
Sonamarg is lacking several steps by the government for the upgradation, conservation and beautification of infrastructure.
According to the sources, the Sonamarg Development Authority is not utilizing the huge amount of three-state art facilities constructed, including Yatri Niwas, Sonamrg Club and the international youth hostel. The construction cost of the international youth hostel and adventure centre and the modern facilities of the state of the art belonging to the SDA is Rs 3.58 crore, whereas the cost of construction for the Yatri Niwas is Rs 3.28 crore and for Sonamarg Club of Rs 3.14 crore, which hasn’t been utilized properly by the authorities for the major attraction which could’ve been a great asset for generating income for the government.
These facilities like recreation halls, dormitories, auditoriums, living rooms, conference halls and cafes, however, were introduced by the then chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah in the year 2011. All these facilities could’ve been enhanced according to the preference and requirements of the tourists, but these have been given the least attention by the authorities.