2018 - A good year for Mansar; receives highest tourist footfall

Mansar lake, a beautiful and holy site in Udhampur, has emerged as a popular destination for tourists in 2018, with a footfall as high as 10.78 lakh. Perhaps, good times have come for Mansar, after years of neglect.

"In 2018 we were able to attract people from different walks of life, including historians, academicians, writers, artists, tourists, students, travel planners, event managers, bloggers, photographers, adventurers, nature lovers, etc through our various initiatives," says Nagendra Singh Jamwal, CEO, SMDA, while confirming that tourist footfall has crossed the ten lakh mark in 2018.

He credits several initiatives under MANSAR SUNDAY SERIES for this feat, which aimed to create awareness regarding Jammu region's rich natural environment, culture and heritage, consequently, boosting the tourism at picturesque lake destination and benefitting the local economy.

The official figures clearly show that during the past decade, Mansar Lake has witnessed the highest-ever tourist footfall in 2018. The increase in tourist arrival is an indication that the efforts of Surinsar-Mansar Development Authority and Directorate of Tourism, Jammu, have paid off well.

The figure shows improving trend in number of tourists visiting Mansar, from 1.26 lakhs in 2008, 1.57 lakhs in 2009, and 2.54 lakhs in 2010, to 5.13 lakhs in 2011. However, the graph suddenly registered a fall, when only 4.14 lakh tourists visited Mansar in 2012.

Next year onwards, the footfall started increasing, gradually, as it rose from 4.15 lakhs in 2013, 4.82 lakhs in 2014, 4.38 lakhs in 2015, and 4.57 lakhs in 2016, to 5.54 lakhs in 2017.

The unprecedented footfall was witnessed in 2018, when 10.778 lakh tourists came to Mansar, which is almost the double of 2017 figures and the highest in the past 10 years (2008-2018).

There is a considerable increase in Mansar's share of tourist footfall from 4.16% in 2017 to 6.72% in 2018, in the tourist footfall distribution data of Jammu division, with Shri Mata Vaishno Devi in Katra being undoubtedly the most visited place over the years.

"Jammu - the City of Temples, is famous for religious tourism, but initiatives like Mansar Series have started to bring Jammu on the map of adventure and nature tourism. We are elated with the response every event has received and we will avidly tap the tourism potential of other places of Jammu region with similar weekly activities," says Om Prakash Bhagat, KAS, Director Tourism, Directorate of Tourism, Jammu.

He adds, "From organizing one-two events in a year to organizing regular weekly events, we have come a long way and would like to keep up the momentum."

As for sensitive ecology is concerned, SMDA and Directorate of Tourism, Jammu, both maintain that while organizing any activity or implementing development projects, the nature and beauty of the place must not be disturbed.

“It wouldn’t be wrong to say that social media has been of great help, in every way possible. Soon we’ll organize Mansar Triathlon, which would be North India’s 1st Open Water Triathlon. Eco-friendly battery car service for tourists is also in the pipeline,” said CEO, SMDA.

Started in October 2018, the Mansar Series is giving tourists varied experiences - culture, heritage, architecture, different art forms, folk dance and music, storytelling, religious, spiritual, adventure, flora-fauna, wildlife, and nature.

The local artists have got an opportunity to showcase their talent, while professionals got to share their knowledge and experiences with people. Tourist influx on Sundays or otherwise, has helped local people, in and around Mansar, to sell their products and services, and generate revenue.

In near future, the tourism dept seeks to organize similar activities for other tourist destinations under its jurisdiction, which prominently include Mubarak Mandi, Suchetgarh Border, Gharana Wetland, Surinsar, Purmandal and Uttarbehni.


MANSAR SUNDAY SERIES


Mansar - A place with a lot of myths and firm faiths

Mansar Lake is one of the largest Fresh Water lakes and is classified as one of the biggest wetlands of India. It is situated on the foothills of Western Himalayas and among Shivalik ranges of Jammu and Kashmir. It is sounded by forest-covered hills, with its length more than a mile and width half-a-mile.

Mansar is a holy site as well, sharing the legend and sanctity of Lake Mansarovar. Some Hindus from the region perform Mundan (First hair cut) ceremony of the male child here. On the eastern bank of Mansar lake, is a shrine dedicated to Hindu serpent God Sheshnag. The shrine comprises of a big boulder on which a number of iron chains are placed representing small serpents. Newly-weds consider it auspicious to perform three parikramas around the lake to seek the blessings of Sheshnag. The ancient temples of Umapati Mahadev, Narsimha and Durga are also there, which are often visited by devotees in large numbers.

Apart from its religious importance and heritage, the Mansar Lake is also picking up as a great tourist spot for all its scenic beauty, flora & fauna. The lake has a proper walkway all around with required illumination, with projected view decks to enjoy flickering of seasonal birds, tortoise and fishes of different species. There is a wildlife sanctuary housing jungle life like Spotted Deer, Neelgai etc. besides other water birds such as Cranes, Ducks etc. It also has provision for boating, with adequate facilities by Directorate of Tourism, Jammu. As an eco-tourism initiative, Wildlife Department has introduced battery-operated vehicles at Mansar to reduce carbon footprints.

History

The history of twin lakes Surinsar-Mansar goes back to the time of Mahabharata. Babar Vahan, son of Arjun and Ulupi (daughter of King Nag), ruled this area during Mahabharata. Arjun had performed "Ashwamegh Yagya" to prove his superiority over the land, after Mahabharata. The horse or the ‘ashwa' was captured by Babar Vahan at village 'khoon', near village Ramkot on Dhar Udhampur road, where Arjun was killed by Babar Vahan. Rejoicing over his victory, Babar Vahan presented Arjun's head to his mother Ulupi, when he got to know that it was his father whom he had killed. To make Arjun alive again, they needed a ‘mani' from Sheshnag. Hence Babar Vahan made a tunnel or surang with his arrow and formed ‘surangsar' which is now named as Surinsar. After defeating Sheshnag and capturing ‘mani' from him, Babar Vahan came out from ‘manisar', now known as Mansar.

(Source: http://www.smdamansar.com/)

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