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Kumrat Valley’s natural magnificence

DIR UPPER: The hide and seek between clouds and the sun with moderate to erratic rainfall and sometimes snowfall over the snow-capped mountain peaks of Kumrat Valley mesmerize adventure sports enthusiasts and eco-tourists who come to this part of the country from plains to take some respite of the scorching heat in summer.

There are many hidden jewels in Pakistan which are yet to be explored – be they natural sites or minerals- and Kumrat Valley is one of them which was explored few years back and now has become one of the favorite destinations for many national and international tourists due to its untouched beauty.

Known for breathtaking natural beauty, deodar forests and magnificent waterfalls, Kumrat Valley’s beauty is still not fully discovered by the tourists who fell into the lap of serenity once they reach the valley.

Located some 45 kilometers of the Thall town on the bank of River Punjkora mostly originated from Dir, Kohistan and Swat’s snow-capped mountain peaks of over 81,000 feet sea level, Kumrat Valley’s hotels and makeshift inns are packed with tourists these days with many witnessed living in tents to enjoy its pleasant weather.

Impressed by its deodar forest, snowfall and waterfalls, Shahryar Khan, an architect from Peshawar told APP that Kumrat Valley’s black Cheshma (waterfall), brown trout fish and cool breeze originating from snow-clad mountains of Gabral Kohistan, Dir and Swat impressed him the most.

Enjoying “Dil Dil Pakistan” song with his family on mobile phone while preparing tea on stove and children playing football around him, he said deodar trees add charm to the valley and their cutting must be stopped by providing gas facilities to local people.

He while urging the provincial government to regulate hotel room charges for the facilitation of tourists said hoteliers were charging people heavily due to lack of camping pods and rest houses.

Unnerved by the poor condition of Pathrak-Thall Bazaar, Shahryar said roads leading to Kumrat were needed to be repaired immediate so that tourism could be promoted further here as better road infrastructure would bring more people to the valley which would mean more income generation and uplift in the well-beings of the locals.

Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan, former Chairman, Economics Department University of Peshawar, said tourism was a big source of bringing direct foreign investment.

He claimed that China had earned about USD 814.1billion from tourism and travel industry in 2022, Malaysia’s 13.13 billion ringgit and Indonesia’s tourism share was 413 73 trillion rupiah in 2021.

Despite enormous tourism potential and home to Ghandhara and Indus Civilizations together with five mountain peaks of over 8,000 meter height, he said Pakistan was unable to earn much from tourism and there was a need to promote the country’s splendid sites enriched with enormous beauty by using digital technology.

“Today was the age of digital media and Kumrat valley’s beauty needs to be showcased properly through digital technology, documentaries and films abroad to attract foreign tourists inevitable to bolster rural economy,” he emphasized.

He said these hidden treasures requires to be projected through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other digital media tools with small videos to take the country out of existing challenges.

Dr Naeem said tourism in Pakistan especially in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would grow after completion of CPEC projects and time has come to increase linkages between Pakistani and foreign tourist companies for the promotion of tourism and generation of employments.

He said Swat was going to become a hub of international and domestic tourism due to its unique features of snowfall, watersports, adventure tourism, skiing and trout fish, adding more facilities at Kumrat valley would reduce tourists’ load on Kalam and Malam Jabba.

Omair Khattak, General Manager Investment, Tourism Authority Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said Kumrat Valley and Madaklasht would become a hub of tourism and adventure sports after construction of a cable car between these scenic valleys of Dir Upper and Chitral Lower.

He said the proposed Kumrat-Madaklasht cable car would be constructed with an estimated cost of 200 million dollars with assistance of the World Bank.

“The 14 to 16 kilometer long cable car would have 5,280 meter height with facilities of a base station at Kumrat, intermediate stop stations and car parking plazas for 500 vehicles,” he said, adding base station hotels, mosques, hydro plants, walking tracks and final station at Madaklasht would also be built under the project.

Khattak said the feasibility study of the mega project had been started and the project would be completed in seven to eight years.

Besides development of infrastructure and construction of access roads, he said additional aspects such as waste management would also be evaluated.

The cable car project on completion would attract an estimated 1.2 million domestic and international tourists annually to Malakand division giving a real boost to the tourism KP.

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