Kashmir to promote Buddhist monasteries

Indo Asian News Service, Jan 31, 2007

Jammu, India -- Jammu and Kashmir plans to showcase the magnificent Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh region in Asian countries to attract more foreign tourists.

'Life-size pictures of the monasteries and their historical background will be sent to China, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea,' Tourism Minister Dillawar Mir told IANS.

Jammu and Kashmir had recorded over 300,000 tourist arrivals till June 2006, before a grenade attack on tourists killed 15 of them and wounded 60. This led to fear, severely affecting tourist traffic in the last six months of 2006.

The tourism department wants to project Kashmir as a beautiful and safe destination, and rich in handicrafts and cultural heritage.

'The state has temples and shrines of all faiths. We are proud of our cultural heritage and want to showcase it to attract tourists,' said Mir.

The minister admitted that so far efforts were directed at wooing tourists from Europe and the West. He stressed that they would now aim at attracting people from Asia, particularly southeast and central Asia.

Mir said that a two-day Kashmir Festival would be organised at the Press Club of India in New Delhi starting Feb 17 to highlight Kashmiri handicrafts, cuisine and horticulture products.

Stalls at the fest would give live demonstrations of handicrafts like woodcarving, needlework and Basholi paintings, with craftsmen coming from Ladakh and other regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

Special stalls would be set up for the sale of horticulture produce like apples, walnuts, apricots, saffron, fruit juices and olive oil. Chefs would prepare mouth-watering Kashmiri cuisine.