Planning a trip to Kashmir but find yourself asking – Is Kashmir safe for tourists? This article will address that question. Often I have heard my friends ask me – Is Kashmir safe for tourists to visit, how safe is it? Will they come back alive or will their wish to see the picturesque place be a death wish? I will address this question, starting with a sentence one of my friends told me when I asked her opinion on this. She said, “It is safer for tourists than it is for us as natives!”
Locals will ensure your safety
Everyone has different ideas about the valley. The everyday news about the encounters, curfews, and strikes makes people wonder – is Kashmir safe for tourists or not. Firstly, Kashmiris are very hospitable people, they have been entertaining tourists since more than a century. So, if you are enjoying a Shikara ride or shopping in Lambert Lane and a protest or a crackdown were to start, they will not leave you in the middle of the crisis. Instead, they will make sure that you are in the safest place till the situation calms down and the locals will help in getting the tourists a safe passage.
Tip: It would help to make some local contacts before you get there, such as with your homestay owner or a reputed local guide.
The tourism authorities will take necessary precautions
Secondly, tourists are never going to be taken to places by the guides where there are chances of a public protest or any life-threatening danger. There are safety arrangements made during tourist season and extra precaution is taken at public places. The local authorities always give certain guidelines to the tourist guide/company which they keep in mind while taking the tourists around, again diminishing the chances of anything going wrong.
Tip: That being said, when you aren’t with your guide and just wish to stroll around, avoid secluded looking spots and don’t stray too far from familiar surroundings, like that of your accommodation. This isn’t just applicable to Kashmir, it’s the most basic safety tip.
Tourism is part of their bread and butter
Thirdly, one of the most important sources of revenue is tourism for Kashmir. The tourism industry workers such as shikara owners, pony drivers, transport professionals etc. earn their livelihood from wanderlust-bitten people coming to Kashmir. It is logical that the people behind protests and the unstable situation in Kashmir will not hurt the means of livelihood of their own people by harming innocent tourists coming to the valley.
Tip: Dress like the locals to feel a better sense of belonging.
Don’t meander on your own
Lastly, I would suggest that tourists travelling to Kashmir stick to the tourist spots mostly and don’t go wandering alone around the inner parts of the city where there is unrest. One cannot be oblivious to the fact that unfortunately there are problems in Kashmir and a lot of safety issues are required, but it isn’t like the tourists will be targeted due to those reasons, in fact, there is more attention given to their safety. The media tends to hype the news in ways that scare the people off even more as they start wondering about the situation and come to conclusions without giving the trip a shot.
Tip: Avoid wandering around late in the night as well, even if you are in a familiar spot.
Things to keep in mind before you go to Kashmir:
- Buy a postpaid sim – only Kashmiri registered prepaid sims work there and hence it is better to get a postpaid connection beforehand to ensure you can stay connected upon your arrival.
- Plan your trip – while it is nice to sometimes land in a place and go where the wind blows when it comes to Kashmir, it would be better to research and plan your trip. This will let you know which spots to visit and which to stay away from. It might also help you get some recommended local contacts whom you can connect with before your trip.
- Pack your clothes according to your itinerary. As mentioned earlier, it is best to pack some modest clothes such as kurtas and salwars to blend in with the locals. Carry warm clothes as well.
So all you travel-bug bitten people, get packing and visit the valley and witness for yourself how well are you taken care of! Bon Voyage! You can click here if you wish to explore some hidden places in Kashmir.