This is the second story in this new season of celebrating talented people making news in Kashmir. For a region once plagued with terrorism, Kashmir is now brimming with entrepreneurship. This story is about a destination resort in Ganderbal, Kashmir made up of mud huts!
The mud huts of Kulube Cottages promise a holiday amidst virgin nature.
This story is about a young hospitality entrepreneur, Sameer Ahmed, who is reviving the age-old tradition of Jammu and Kashmir by building mud houses with hotel-like amenities inside.
The young entrepreneurs of Kashmir are now delving into new business concepts while keeping up with the valley's traditional businesses, like tourism. The traditional mud houses which are known to be durable, low-cost and biodegradable, are now becoming popular among tourists in Kashmir who want to experience the history, heritage, and pristine natural beauty of Himalayan Kashmir. The region recently witnessed a boom in the tourism industry with more than 16 million tourists visiting Kashmir in the last year.
Ahmed has built a resort called Kulube Cottages made up of mud houses in an area called Kangan in the Ganderbal district of Kashmir. These homes are constructed of mud on the outside yet have hotel-quality amenities inside complete with attached bathrooms with modern furnishings and toiletries. The mud houses of Kulube Cottages offers a variety of earthy private huts that can house upto four people. Ganderbal is known as the Lake District of Kashmir for its numerous natural attractions.
The idea is to revive the traditional way of making houses in Kashmir and give guests a sense of coming closer to a natural way of living which is more sustainable than the average city life. Kulube Cottages aims to help guests immerse themselves wholesome village-style life, and hearty village food, while living in relative luxury.
The resort is close to the ancient Naranag temple, said to be have been built by the Kashmiri king Lalitaditya around the 8th century CE, and dedicated to Shiva. A serpent worshipping ancient clan, the Nagas, are also supposed to have worshipped at the temple. The famous Barwalla waterfall is also nearby.
Ahmed says that for a long time he had the idea of doing something that would connect him with his roots. Based on this idea, he built these mud houses (there are three of them at the moment). These mid-houses give a sense of old-style living along with the ambience, while the modern facilities in the interior do not create any difficulties for tourists.
He said that the traditional lifestyle of Kashmiris is simple and unique. In ancient times, houses were made of mud and people were using traditional earthenware for various purposes, but in modern times, many changes have taken place in this way of life. He said that Kulube Cottages are a link to reviving this old way of life.
Kulube Cottages feature mud houses as well as a restaurant in which clay pots are used for cooking and eating. According to Sameer Ahmed, their aim is to stay connected with the rich culture and provide the best services to our customers. He said that he is planning to build more such mud houses to accommodate more people.
Several who have visited the resort have admired its simplicity and traditional touches and the fact that after many years of political disturbances, entrepreneurship, especiall in tourism, the traditional industry of Kashmir, is booming with activity and innovation once again.