G20 working group meeting concludes in Srinagar

Officials from embassies in New Delhi instead of representatives from the capitals represented some members of the grouping such as Indonesia and Saudi Arabia…reports Asian Lite News

Around 60 foreign delegates started the day with a session of yoga against the backdrop of the Zabarwan mountain range before visiting Nishat Garden and Royal Spring Golf Course on the banks of the Dal Lake.

“Experiencing the alluring beauty of the different locales of Srinagar, the G20 delegates visited the 12-terraced beautiful Nishat garden on the banks of the quaint Dal Lake on the third day of the 3rd G20 TWG meeting at Srinagar,” the Union tourism ministry said in a tweet.

Tourists were seen clicking selfies with the foreign guests, who also tried traditional Kashmiri attire. Some of the delegates had a session at the Royal Spring Golf Course.

G-20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant praised the golf course and its scenic beauty as well as the hospitality of the people. He said the delegates were equally impressed by Kashmir’s tourism potential. “It has been a brilliant experience, fabulous hospitality, warmth, and affection. We have truly enjoyed this visit because we have been able to do a lot of hard work. We have been able to see Kashmir and enjoy the great affection of the people of Kashmir.”

He praised the soft power of Kashmir and hoped the guests will become its ambassadors. “…the great Sufi culture …blends very clearly with the philosophy of G20. All that is embodied in the Sufism of Kashmir. We are all one family…we worked as one family to create a great experience for G20. Every delegate has gone back with a fascinating memory and they will bring back a large number of visitors.”

The delegates walked around Boulevard Road on the Dal Lake and visited Polo View Market in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, which is the first to be made a completely pedestrian one in the city. Half-an-hour before the visit, the roads to the market were closed to the public. Only shopkeepers were allowed to stay in their shops.

“The guests shopped and explored products such as shawls, handicrafts, and dry fruits,” a shopkeeper said.

The G20 meeting was one of the biggest international events held in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) since the nullification of Article 370, which stripped the region of its semi-autonomous status in August 2019. It was seen as a reiteration on the global stage of the region being India’s integral part.

China skipped the meeting. Delegates and officials from G20 members, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the UK, the US, and the European Union, attended the inaugural events on the banks of Dal Lake.

Officials from embassies in New Delhi instead of representatives from the capitals represented some members of the grouping such as Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

India, which assumed the forum’s presidency in December, organised G20-related events in J&K and Arunachal Pradesh to showcase normalcy and development in these areas and to negate territorial claims by other countries. Pakistan has objected to the holding of such meetings in Kashmir. It was one of the reasons behind China’s decision to boycott the event in Srinagar.

China also stayed away from a G20 event in Arunachal Pradesh. Beijing claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet.

The draft for a national strategy on film tourism was unveiled at a session on the sidelines of the meeting on Monday. There was also a side event on ecotourism, and a panel discussion focused on green tourism, digitalisation, skills, MSMEs, and destination management.

Srinagar was decked up in the G20 colours for the meeting. The road from Srinagar Airport to the venue of the meeting was spruced up with walls covered with murals and paintings. Local markets were cleaned up and even security bunkers were given a new look in the run-up to the meeting.

Multi-tier security arrangements were made for the international event. Marine commandoes and National Security Guard personnel carried out security drills ahead of the meeting around its venue. River and lake domination was done to ensure water bodies around the venue of the meeting are safe. Central Reserve Police Force personnel also conducted mock drills at Dal Lake.

Delegates embrace Srinagar’s cultural gems

Srinagar, the crown jewel of Kashmir, welcomed delegates from G20 countries on a journey of cultural immersion and appreciation.

As they ventured beyond the confines of the meeting rooms at SKICC, the delegates were greeted by the allure of the iconic Mughal Gardens and later explored the newly renovated Polo View Market, where they discovered the captivating beauty and vibrant commerce that define the city.

The delegates’ first destination was the renowned Nishat and Mughal Gardens, nestled on the banks of the enchanting Dal Lake. The gardens, boasting a seamless blend of Persian and Mughal architectural styles, provide an idyllic oasis where nature flourishes and heritage thrives.

Walking through the manicured lawns, the delegates marvelled at the symphony of colours presented by the blooming flowers and the soothing sound of water cascading from the fountains.

As the delegates indulged their senses, capturing cherished moments with their cameras, they found themselves sharing the vibrant space with enthusiastic tourists. The gardens became a meeting point for people from diverse backgrounds, fostering cultural exchanges that transcended geographical boundaries. Amidst the serene ambience, the delegates engaged in conversations, creating bridges of understanding that unite nations.

A delegate while talking to Zubair Qureshi expressed her admiration for the Mughal Gardens, stating, “The Mughal Gardens in Srinagar stand as an awe-inspiring testament to the magnificence of the Mughal era. Being here, surrounded by such beauty, allows us to appreciate the rich cultural heritage that Kashmir holds.”

Following their enriching visit to the Mughal Gardens, the delegates embarked on a journey through the revamped Polo View Market. This bustling marketplace, adorned with intricate wooden architecture, offers a captivating blend of traditional charm and contemporary commerce. The recent renovation, including the implementation of wire-free infrastructure, has breathed new life into the market, enhancing the shopping experience for both locals and visitors.

The narrow alleys of Polo View Market beckoned the delegates with a cornucopia of handicrafts, Kashmiri clothing, and delectable culinary delights. Exploring the vibrant stalls, they were greeted by warm smiles from local vendors eager to share the region’s unique artistic heritage. The delegates eagerly engaged in conversations with the artisans, learning about their intricate craftsmanship and the stories woven into each creation.

A delegate from Korea, expressed his excitement about the revitalized Polo View Market, stating, “Polo View Market has an illustrious reputation for its vibrant shopping experience. I am thrilled to immerse myself in the rich culture of Kashmir, interact with the talented artisans, and bring home a piece of their extraordinary craftsmanship.”

As the delegates completed their shopping spree, they departed with treasured souvenirs, symbolic of the enduring connection forged between the G20 countries and the timeless allure of Kashmir. The visit to the Mughal Gardens and Polo View Market will undoubtedly serve as a lasting reminder of the harmonious blend of nature, culture, and commerce that lies at the heart of Srinagar.

In the embrace of these cultural gems, the G20 delegates were not only witness to Kashmir’s beauty but also active participants in celebrating its vibrant traditions and resplendent heritage. Their visit stands as a testament to the power of cultural exchange, fostering goodwill and understanding amongst nations, leaving an indelible mark on both the delegates and the city they explored. (ANI)

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