The changing profile of once staid Jammu
Jan 16, 2007 - 8:17:13 AM
Jammu, Jan 16 - Jammu may not enjoy political limelight as much as Kashmir Valley. But the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir is shining in many areas, particularly in lifestyle and commerce.
The city is becoming a hub of vibrant economic activity with new luxury hotels, car showrooms and shopping malls sprouting thick and fast among the hoary structures of the last century.
Situated on the banks of river Tawi, a city of 620,000 people is now weaving a new tale of local entrepreneurship and changing lifestyles, projecting an image that is increasingly appealing to the youth.
Not long ago, Raghunath Bazar in the heart of the walled city was the main commercial hub. It had single-storey shopping line and a few low-budget hotels for pilgrims headed to Vaishno Devi. The marketplace wears a transformed look now with multi-storey shopping centres, especially of garments and dry fruits and Kashmiri handicrafts.
'We had no other option but to do so. The youth were not willing to step into old-style shops. We had to change. Our business is better now,' says Ashok Puri of Puri's Exclusive, a garment shop that is spread over several floors.
New shopping complexes have come up in Gole Market, Bahu Plaza, Rehari, Ploura and Channi Himmat. Name any brand, and there are showrooms for that.
Currently Jammu has three flyovers but it badly feels the need for more. The traffic has grown manifold.
The city, which two decades ago had Ambassadors and Fiats lumbering along, now has some of the best national and global luxury car brands.
'There is a high demand for luxury cars. At times, we run out of stock as the demand goes up,' says Neeru Batra, who runs a Toyota outlet.
However, it is not all about cars and shopping malls changing Jammu's face. The hotels have unique features. Several new luxurious hotels have come up too.
Seven-story luxury hotel KC Residency, which has a revolving restaurant on the top, offers a panoramic view of the city - from one end to the other.
'As times are moving, we are having high occupancy. Many multinational companies have booked rooms on long-term basis,' says Mushtaq Chhaya, owner of Jhelum Resorts.
In the health sector, Jammu has a big private hospital and countless nursing homes.
'Where there is money, such facilities are natural associates,' said Vinay Khajuria, a resident.
However, many believe there are two factors that have contributed to Jammu's growth.
According to Sanjay Baroo, a medical representative, Jammu is generally regarded as a safe city. It has an investment friendly climate. People are less political and more business-minded.
There is also a sense of security as compared to the Kashmir Valley, where bombs and bullets define the tense atmosphere.
The ever increasing rush of pilgrims to Vaishno Devi, which received nearly seven million last year, influx of tourists to Patnitop, Sanasar and Kud from northern India are the two other important contributing factors.
No wonder, with such a friendly atmosphere at its disposal, Jammu has been able to attract multinationals.
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