Thousands of tourists from different parts of India are flocking Kashmir to enjoy Christmas and the new year.
A top winter tourist and adventure destination of south Asia is dotted with tourists and adventure lovers alike this year as well. The tourists have come to enjoy the Christmas and new year. The popular ski destination is home to several winters activities, even when the temperatures dip to minus 15 degrees Celcius.
This year, the tourist influx is high - thanks to the early snowfall which has brought joy on the faces of tourism players who have been otherwise marred by the bad situation in the union territory. Most of the tourists have come to celebrate Christmas and the new year.
"We have always dreamt of seeing something like this. It's a message to all Indians that this is the place to be at right now. We are celebrating our Christmas here and having natural Christmas tree is a wonderful experience," said Julie Ghosh, a tourist from Mumbai.
Most of the valley's little known two percent Christian population visit Gulmarg where a Mass took place. Surrounded by the western Himalayas, Gulmarg is also called the 'heartland of winter sports' in India. Winter is also considered a perfect time for a vacation in Gulmarg.
"Since we celebrate Christmas at home every year, we wanted a different Christmas this year, this attracted to Kashmir. Looking at the snow on the Christmas trees (Pine trees), its awesome," said Pernil De Mengo, another tourist from Mumbai.
All this has led to a surge in the hotel bookings in the region which is only expected to grow and help boost the economy. According to the estimates of the Tourism Department, 33 per cent of the population in Jammu and Kashmir is directly or indirectly connected with this tourism activity, contributing 16 per cent of the domestic product.