The past decade of turmoil has left traces in the Valley. Its important that you get yourself registered with the Foreignersâ Registration unit of the Tourism Department. The registration counters are at Tourist Reception centers at Srinagar Airport, Srinagar City, Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Phalgam and other places.
In case of an emergency you can contact the nearest tourist police office or police station. The emergency number of the Police Control Room is 100.
The official state language is Urdu, though the most commonly spoken language in the Vale of Kashmir is Kashmiri or Kashur. The younger generation speaks English quite well. Most of the sign-boards and directions are written in English. English is one of the official languages of the government apart from Kashmiri, Urdu, Gojri and Dogri. Hindi is also widely spoken across Kashmir.
Kashmiris are considered very hospitable people. The Amarnath Yatra in which Hindus annually visit a cave situated deep in high altitude mountains in Pahalgam supposedly the abode of Lord Shiva has been going on peacefully for more than a hundred years and Kashmiris have been known to provide all help to the yatris, sometimes even braving harsh mountain weather which is not that rare considering it's a high altitude pilgrimage. In 2006 a campaign of grenade attacks in Srinagar claimed the lives of six tourists and wounded forty on July 11. The targets included a tourist bus and the Tourist Reception Centre. A similar attack on May 31 against a tourist bus wounded 21. An explosion in a tourist bus in Shalimar Gardens on July 29th , 2007 claimed six lives and wounded twentyone. In the summer of 2008 a controversy arose in which Kashmiris resisted the transfer of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board created by the Government of India, fearing dilution of the Muslim majority demography of the state. During this time a grenade attack in Gulmarg killed one tourist and injured five.During the peak of militancy in 1995 which has largely abated now a Norwegian tourist, Hans Christian OstrÃ¸, and five other western tourists were kidnapped by an unknown terrorist group, Alfaran. John Childs, an American managed to escape. However OstrÃ¸ was tragically beheaded. The other tourists have never been found since and are presumed dead. However, mainstream separatists denounced this act and terrorist organisations based in Pakistan denied any hand in the executions.