INDIA OPENS HIMALAYAN PEAKS TO FOREIGNERS

Foreigners will be allowed to climb nearly 100 high-altitude Himalayan peaks for the first time on the Indian side of Kashmir, an official said Friday.

The move by the Indian government to allow foreign climbers follows a significant decline in violence by insurgent groups in the region since India and Pakistan started a peace process in 2004, said Farooq Ahmed Shah, a state tourism official.

The move is aimed at helping to boost tourism, an important source of income for Kashmiris and their saucer-shaped valley of fruit orchards, lakes and wildflowers.

Before the start of the insurgency by separatists in 1989, hundreds of thousands of tourists flocked to the region — known as the Switzerland of the east — to enjoy the glacier-fed streams flowing through the forests and grasslands or lounge on houseboats floating on Srinagar’s Dal Lake.

The government in the Indian state of Jammu-Kashmir declared 2010 a “visit Kashmir year” following an improvement in the security situation, Shah said.

“The decision has been taken at the highest level and nearly 100 peaks in Ladakh region are open for trekking and mountaineering,” he said.

These peaks are situated at an altitude ranging from 9,840 feet (3,000 meters) to nearly 26,246 feet (8,000 meters).

For the full article: Yahoo News

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