Leh: Buoyed by heavy tourist arrival in Ladakh, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has embarked on an ambitious plan to put this Himalayan district on the Buddhist circuit to woo pilgrims.
With tourism being a major sector contributing towards the development of the state`s economy, the state government under the leadership of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is planning to restore the existing monasteries in the region, hire landscaping experts, set up tourism centers as well as provide basic road infrastructure in the region.
"We have submitted the detailed project report of the plans we want to implement in Ladakh to facilitate tourism in this region. The report which we have submitted is of Rs 150 crore to develop tourism circuit in three regions, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh," says Tourism Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora.
Out of this fund, Rs 50 crore has been earmarked to develop the Buddhist circuit in Ladakh while the remaining will be spent on encouraging the Sufi tourism circuit in Kashmir and pilgrimage centers in Jammu.
Keeping in view the increasing flow of tourists into Ladakh every year, the government plans to have facilities like the tourist centers not only in the main city but also in places which hold tourist interests like the monasteries in Ladakh, areas around the banks of Indus river and many more.
"These centers will guide tourists visiting the region and provide information to cater their every need and requirements," the Minister said.
Last year around 1,48,588 tourists visited the region of which 29,856 were foreigners. Keeping these figures in mind the government is also keen not to spoil the natural beauty of the region which includes the famous fresh water Pangong lake and highest motorable road to Khardungla.
"For Ladakh, we are also promoting the natural beauty of the region. We do not want to build a water park nor an amusement park here," said Jora.
There are about 35 Buddhist monasteries spread across the region which thrives on donations made by tourists and the local people of the region but now the government plans to develop these monasteries.
"We may not be providing financial aid to these monasteries, but help them develop their infrastructure by carrying out renovation and restoration works," said Jora.
The Jammu and Kashmir government is hoping that the financial aid to develop Ladakh into a bigger tourist attraction over the coming years and hopes to allocate the necessary funds in this financial year.
"The Centre has still not decided on how much to allocate for our project. We are hopeful that when allocations are made by the Centre, they would be of substantial amount to put our plans into action," he said.
The state government also plans to hire experts for landscaping of the barren regions and such a move was possible only after the Centre released funds.