Crowded ponies drive down Kufri’s tourist destination value

Pony riding at Kufri - Photo By Mayank Susngi

Kufri: Promoted as a premier tourist spot in the vicinity of Shimla; beauty of the serene environs of Kufri’s stands marred by the ugly sight of numerous horses put through the drudgery for giving visitors ‘a memorable joy ride’.

Many have protested about these animals ruining the tourist value of the destination by turning it into a stable whose otherwise clean air is dominated by stench emanating from horse dung and urine that is littered all over the place.

Unmindful of tourism earning a bad name, the horse owners are out in strength, each morning as spring breaks out at the destination, to put the beast of burden to task for making a fast buck from the tourist who stop by.

While horse owners resist any moves to displace them from making a living out of offering pony rides, the government’s intent of removing them to reclaim the tourism value of the site has failed so much so that efforts to restrict the number of horses does not hold.

“Our livelihoods are dependent on the tourist inflow here and we make a living by giving them the comfort of tackling uphill terrain on horseback for which they willingly don’t mind paying extra,” says Shiv Ram, a horse owner.

“If removed where do we go and what do we do with the horses”, he questions? Owning a horse to earn a livelihood out of pony rides at the tourist site was initially supported by the government and as self employment avenue, he claimed.

Expressing helplessness, Surinder Justa, the district tourism officer said, “we do not own the site as it is government by the local area development authority.”

“If we are to prolong the staying duration of visitors to Shimla, it is essential that the nearby scenic spots are spurned up,” he said adding, “allowing the ponies to litter the place is causing harm to both the destination as well as the good will that the serene setting of the place should have earned among visitors”.

The tourism officer mentioned that many tourists complain about being harassed or being overcharged by the horse owners and the matter often ends up with local police.

The problem is that Kufri happens to be a buffer for three panchayat zones and each one has a pony association of its own. With the three panchayats holding claim to about 200 horses each, the number at the spot surpasses 600 horses during peak summer time.

In a scenario of diverging interests of the pony owners and tourism promoters, an animal rights activists Sanjay Bhel, chairman People of Animal Rights Shimla chapter differed saying “there is an nature park at Kufri which prizes some rare wild animals, but neither the wild life authorities stationed there nor the animal husbandry department have ever considered the plight of the ponies involved in the activity.

Sheer greed has overtaken the horse owners for even underfed and animals in ill-health are put through drudgery each day to eek out a living by such insensitive exploitation” said Bhel.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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2 Comments

  1. says: lkkapoor

    This is not d new story. It is continuing at least 4 last 2 decades n no body is bothered irrespective of reversible effect on tourism. Aim is 2 earn 2day n vision 4 2marrow,may b hell. If, b want 2 save as tourist destination, a clear n far reaching strict policy requires 2 b implemented in Himachal as an overall.

  2. says: ravinder singh

    It was a sad to seethe plight of ponies in kufri.Iwent eight years back things have become worse.When Himachal govt knows kufri is a tourist place why they don,t improve the road and make shelter for the ponies. They are standing in open in the extreme weather.They are sick ,sitting down in the dung,wet place. They are kept standing while waiting for the tourist. please tell them they are making enough money but where is money going? why they are not improving the conditions for these animals and their owners. there should be given medical treatment which they deserve. they are earning money for others but nothing is spent on them.Please raise your voice for these who can,t speak for them selves.

    In manali they are making millions of rupees from tourism but the ugly site the drains are open and the dogs are drinking water from these dirty drains. Years back i wrote to himachal tourism to make some arrangements for the [place on the mall road where the dogs can drink water. This the sad story of the place where people become rich but are blind to see the things around them.Monkeys at jaku in shimla have lost their habitat and being a tourist place it is such a stress to go there because of monkeys.. I got to know from the locals that they don,t have any thing to eat as there are no such trees from where they can eat. Humans have encroached on everything in the name of development. What ever donation comes in jaku the preists take away everything. Why can,t they buy something for the monkeys there so that tourist don,t have to face what they are facing. please ask the govt officials to do something king while sitting on their high posts and don,t keep sleeping. Please make it viral all over the world so that people should know the dark side of tourism industry in Himachal Pardesh. We as human beings should not turn blind towards these cruelties. For all what is happening the main cause is the greed of humans.Be it the govt. officials or others.

    At shimla station The train Himalyan Queen,s toilets were not cleaned.When they know tourist from all over the world use this train they should clean the train.I asked the station master to get the toilet cleaned thebest part is as usual the the people with govt jobs takes the things for granted.After asking him many times he finally got to get the toilet cleaned but you know what? He only got the toilet cleaned of my coach and not rest of the train.

    I nearly had a narrow escape of my life as the steps which connects the mall road to lower bazaar in bad shape and my foot slipped for a min. my family thought i am gone.

    This is the dark story of the tourist place. please raise your voice and force the Himachal govt. and HIMACHAL TOURISM TO TAKE THE ACTION OR START BOYCOTTING THE TOURISM TOGETHER WE CAN BRING THE CHANGE TOGETHER WE STAND FOR THE INJUSTICE.PLEASE HELP.

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