Kupwara (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], August 6 (ANI): Bangus Valley in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district has emerged as a quick getaway as Covid-19 cases surge and lockdown blues affect people.
The valley, nestled among Himalayan foothills in the north of Kupwara, is a feast to eyes and a welcome respite.
"Since the lockdown, this place has seen a rush in visitors. People don't want to be in the city because the number of COVID-19 cases is rising and it is far away from nature. Here, the air is fresh and cool, the water is sweet and we are free of the Coronavirus," Hafiz Manzoor, a frequent traveller to Bangus Valley told ANI.
The valley is about 115 km south-west of Srinagar and is located at an altitude of about 10,000 ft. Often known as the hidden paradise amongst locals, Bangus is spread over an area of about 300 sq. km, comprising mountains and grassland- a picturesque station for a quick distraction.
"It is too much to be in lockdown for so long. How many days can we just stay at home? There are restrictions wherever we go and people are really struggling with their mental health. We want to be free so we come here to breathe the fresh air. Usually, around this time people go for picnics so we decided to visit. Coming here distracts us from the stress we go through back home," said Anjum Jan, a local visitor.
The Covid-19 pandemic did not spare Jammu and Kashmir either, despite vast scale governmental efforts.
According to Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Union Territory has 7,285 active cases of coronavirus. However, the silver lining is, more than 15,240 patients have recovered.
When the country went in for the coronavirus lockdown, the usual tourist destinations in Jammu and Kashmir were shut out and Bangus Valley became an easy, accessible choice when restrictions eased up.
"I have just come here to visit as I was getting very bored due to the lockdowns that have been imposed. This is a beautiful place, surrounded by nature. Breathing in the fresh air and feeling the cool breeze really helps with the COVID-19 stress. Srinagar and Pahalgam are in lockdown but here, we are free," said Ishfaq Ahmad, another visitor.
The Bangus Valley has meadows, natural vegetation, flowers and forests. As lockdown restrictions are relaxed and people start venturing out, the region is poised to become a must-visit on the list of travel enthusiasts.
However, as per the latest guidelines issued by the J-K administration on July 30, all air and rail passengers with Aarogya Setu application on their phones must undergo home quarantine for 14 days or till their Covid test results are reported negative. (ANI)