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Travel News, January, 2007

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Gulmarg hosts first ever snow rugby tournament
by Sohail

     Gulmarg: The people in Gulmarg had a gala time watching the first ever Snow Rugby tournament held here in the Kashmir Valley during the weekend. It was organised by the State Rugby Association in cooperation with the tourism department to promote tourism in the region. The two-day event showcased enthusiastic rugby lovers arriving here in the hill resort of Gulmarg from different parts of the country. "This is the first snow rugby tournament which has never been held elsewhere in India. Tourism department is hosting the event. Boys and girls from many places have come here to participate in the tournament. We are doing this to promote the game as well as tourism over here," said Mohammad Maqbool, Chairman of the State Football Rugby Association. Rugby has been included in the national games scheduled next month in Assam.

    Rugby has been in India since 1872, mainly in Bombay in Maharashtra, and the then Calcutta city (today's Kolkata), under the patronage of the Bombay Gymkhana and Calcutta Cricket and Football Club. Apart from boys the tournament also saw a number of girls participating in the event. "It has been a great experience for us to play rugby in Kashmir. This was the first time that I watched girls playing rugby in Kashmir that too in the snow. It is also the first time that we played the game in snow. We are all happy and having a lot of fun. I want people from other States and countries to come here and participate. They should enjoy the difference here," said, Rifat, a participant. Gulmarg, at an altitude of 8,500 ft in the Pir Panjal ranges of Kashmir, is a bowl shaped plateau surrounded by thick forest and is considered the country's premier ski resort with its natural slopes and inclines. The State has been conducting many sporting events on different occasions that included skiing championships. . Kashmir's economy relies heavily on tourism. In 2005, the State received more than 600,000 tourists.
-Jan 15,  2007

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