Honeymooners fall out of love with Kufri

June 22nd, 2008 - 3:22 pm ICT by IANS  

By Vishal Gulati
Kufri (Himachal Pradesh), June 22 (IANS) Just a half-hour drive from Shimla town, this hill station used to be known as a honeymooner’s paradise. But Kufri presents a picture of neglect and indifference today. Poor parking and transportation facilities, lack of cleanliness and haphazard constructions have done a lot of damage to Kufri’s image of a happy meeting ground of lovers located at 2,510 metres above sea level in Shimla district.

Shopkeeper Randev Singh says: “Honeymooners were once our prime customers. Now this hill station seems to be out of their itinerary. As their arrival declines, our business has gone down by 50 percent.”

J.P. Negi, a long-time resident, told IANS: “Those were the days when Kufri was famous worldwide for its skiing slopes and green hills. But now it is fast turning into a garbage dump.”

The filth and foul smell in the narrow lanes, aggravated by mule droppings, here put many a tourist off. Mules are used by tourists to ferry themselves across the hilly terrain.

Too many constructions have marred Kufri’s beauty. Many hotels have come up in the area, and these are dumping their waste on the hills without any thought to environmental pollution.

Dinesh Guleria, information officer at the Tourist Information Centre in Simla, said: “Tourist arrivals in Kufri have definitely gone down.”

There was a time when around 800 tourists, especially honeymooners, used to visit Kufri daily. But locals say their number has almost halved. The untimely rain this year has further hit tourist arrivals.

Discovered as an ideal hill resort by the British in the 1930s, Kufri quickly emerged as a popular destination for winter sport due to good snowfall. For many decades, it was a regular venue for the national winter games. But no more.

“Now the snow falls but melts quickly as the average temperature has gone up considerably,” says another resident Satbir Thakur.

“The town has no beautification plan and the area has been polluted by a large number of horses which are brought here for tourists,” he adds.

Nakul Khullar, a tourist from Mumbai, says: “I have come here after travelling hundreds of kilometres. But you hardly come across honeymoon couples romancing in these hills.”

After dusk, there are very few decent places for wining and dining.

“In this hill station, after sunset all shops and restaurants shut down,” says Vinay Menon, a tourist from Delhi.

Even the cafeteria run by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation does not operate after 6 p.m.

Cafeteria manager Roop Bhanot says during the past few years their income has nosedived. For this, he blames mule owners who often stop tourists midway to Kufri and take them away to nearby resorts and hotels. The mule owners in turn get handsome commissions from the private resorts.

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