G 20 delegates receive a royal welcome with pagris, tilaks and marigold showers

Rashmi Talwar

SRINAGAR J&K 22 May 2023 ————–

Amidst beat of Dhols, delegates from 17, G-20 member countries and guest country  invitees were offered a royal welcome with red velvet traditional Indian umbrellas held aloft their heads by individual umbrella bearers reminding one of the days of the Rajas and Maharajas. Alongside Kashmiri girls performed the typical Kashmiri Roff dance.  Delegates were ushered in and accorded a warm welcome, anointed with Saffron Tilaks, a Saffron Pagri or Turban placed on their bare heads, and showered with saffron colored fragrant marigold petals at the premises of Lalit Hotel, in Srinagar Kashmir hosting the biggest International event in decades.

Few foreign Delegates were seen carrying their own luggage or strolling them along the bridge of the famous hotel that has hosted many a star on the world horizon. As Kashmiri music with its typical Santoor, Rabab and Tumaknari instrumental melody wafted from a stage in the entryway of the hotel lobby accompanied by a rhythmic playing of ghara or earthen utensil. A sizzling Bhangra, a cultural dance from neighboring state of Punjab enraptured the delegates with vigorous rhythmic steps, loud claps and pauses. Some Kashmiri detractors sniggered over the ‘tilak’ as a Hindu custom, and saffron colors which they said typified the political color symbols of the ruling BJP party in the country.

On the delegates  itinerary after the vigourous session were 15 places to visit including Shalimar Mughal Gardens, Bakshi Stadium, Government Arts Emporium housed in a heritage building from the British times, the Pari Mahal a palace cum observatory high over the city built in 17 century by Dara Shikoh son of Emperor Shah Jahan and brother of Aurangzeb, newly renovated Zero Bridge, Polo view market of 1954 recently spruced up for G20.

The TRC football stadium; Chashme Shahi Gardens- oozing the purest spring waters known to be especially flown for Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. With it  a ‘skikara’ or Kashmiri boat ride with heart shaped paddles; a visit to the Char Chinari or island of four Chinar Trees, the SPS Museum house in nearly 80,000 treasures.

Of course the guests would be watched closely though discreetly by Marine frogmen of commandos patrolling the waters of the Dal lake with highly sophisticated TATA night visions, the  national security guards stationed to prevent fidayeen attacks and counter drone operations, the special operations group of J&K police and Indian army at checkpoint keeping a high powered vigil over the priced guests in the highly sensitive region. About 160 CCTV cameras were up across the city in a state of high preparaedness with daily drills at the conference venue. While CRPF forces deputed on anti-mine operations, Special Operations Group (SOG) have been deployed for the first time to secure a civilian population.

The event recorded the highest participation compared to the first two tourism working group meetings of G20 at Rann of Kutch and Siliguri.



Gulmarg, Dachigam tour Cancelled for G20

Owing to security issues and adverse reports, the scheduled sightseeing visit to the Dachigam National Wildlife Park and the tourist Hotspot Gulmarg or meadow of flowers in North Kashmir have been dropped from the itinerary, which was to showcase tourism for G20 delegates. It was cancelled at the nth moment even as vigorous preparations were ongoing for the international event. A senior official at the ongoing project told the writer that the cancellation was due to a serious threat perception.




Lal Chowk shop owners to keep shops open all three days of G20

Shopkeepers of the Lal Chowk, the hub of Srinagar and a center point for all protests, hartals and any form of civil disobedience, have been asked by the city administration in accordance with the foreign office and Ministry of Home to keep their shops open for all three days of the G20 Meet in the city .

They have all been issued passes in the area which is under high vigil lest some hardore attack or even stray mischief may sour the taste or could be staged in protest against the G20 session in J&K which some countries have boycotted including China supporting Pakistan, Turkiye and Indonesia. Meantime, the J&K Police issued an advisory against international mobile numbers used for spreading rumors in the union territory as people in the valley reported getting automated calls from some odd numbers.




Exhibition of crafts of Kashmir at SKICC            

An exhibition of Kashmiri handicrafts, including papier mache , wood carving , carpets and shawls, walnuts and wild produce were displayed at 11 stalls at the Sher E Kashmir Convention Center SKICC the venue of the G20 meet.



Terror Mastermind wife gives a call to Kashmirs to boycott G20

Mashal Mallik wife of Yasin Mallik, the mastermind of terrorism in Kashmir, screamed from the mike of the Bol TV Channel from Pakistan and gave a call to Kashmiris to boycott the ongoing G20 International Meet held in Srinagar Kashmir.

 She exhorted them to rebel and sit in protest in a ‘hartal’ or strike mode to object to the holding of the International event in Kashmir and  accuse the  country  of betraying the cause of Kashmir and its liberation, ‘Modi is celebrating over Kashmiri  blood and graves’ she cried, trying to evoke gullible Kashmiris to rebel.  However she and her ranting were able to garner only 125likes on YouTube.



Points on Tourism Enhancement in J&K

  • Under its presidency India has so far held 108 meetings in various parts of the country, the Srinagar Tourism being one of the most impressive under tense circumstances.
  • G20 chief coordinator Harshvardhan Shringala said that the G20 tourism working group meeting in Srinagar has a highest dedicated participation and will be the most significant event held in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Promoting film tourism in J&K G20 chief coordinator said that a draft National strategy on Film Tourism will be unveiled to provide road map for the role of films as promoters of tourist destinations.
  • The meeting is set to  deliberate on five key priority areas, that includes ‘Green Tourism’, ‘Digitalization’, MSME and ‘Destination Management’ these priorities are key building blocks for accelerating the transaction of the tourism sector and achieving the targets. Film Tourism is ideal  for economic growth and cultural preservation and G20 will focus on strategies to promote film tourism and will invite international organizations and industries besides stakeholders, to strategize the format.
  • About 300 new tourist destinations are in the pipeline in Jammu and Kashmir and  Srinagar aims to strengthen economic growth, preserve cultural heritage and promote sustainable development of the region
  • Ram Charan, famous south Indian actor  shakes a leg with foreign delegates on Oscar winning song ‘Naatu Naatu’. The actor landed here to participate in a side event of the 3rdG20 Tourism Working Group Meeting in Kashmir valley. He is among the representatives of the Indian film industry at the summit to discuss film tourism for economic growth and cultural preservation.





Rashmi Talwar