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Mahoor’s hiking expeditions connect people to their past



heritage walks for history buffs and travel enthusiasts.

Passion with a purpose

Syed Jesarat

Mahoor Shaw, a jewellery designer and a passionate hiker, curates heritage walks for history buffs and travel enthusiasts.

Twenty-seven-year-old, Mahoor is not just enthusiastic about hiking but has a purpose. She wants to acquaint people with their forgotten past.

“I have been a history lover since my childhood, and it is my passion to visit historical spots that is why I started these heritage walks,” says Mahoor. “First I curated the walks for my family and friends, which later motivated me to start group tours.”

Mahoor says though she started organising heritage walks in 2019 but her tour and travel registration is still pending.

A BBA graduate from the University of Kashmir with two fellowships, the Young India Fellowship and Naropa Fellowship, Mahoor is fulfilling her dream of being a travel lover by making it a small private organisation. This independent organization of hers is drawing in an ever-increasing number of clients due to its fun and historical visits. The clients are both from Kashmir as well as from outside.

heritage walks for history buffs and travel enthusiasts.She uses social media, particularly Instagram, to publicise these history expeditions and also organises all the arrangements online through her Instagram page, which goes by the name of “The Whirling Zoon”.

“I picked this graceful name since I am a drifter, and in my friend circle, I am known as Zoon (which implies moon in Kashmiri),” she says.

Hailing from downtown Srinagar, Mahoor never thought a lot about society with regard to her enthusiasm and vocation. With full family support, she figured out how to follow her energy.

“My family is always supportive and they never stop me from following my interests. I started cycling when I was a child and used to go freely around the city,” she says.

 “I love to trek and travel a lot, eat traditional food; and all that which is related to our culture is of high value to me.”

The Whirling Zoon coordinates hikes and visits to the various historical spots, but each group has a limit of 15 individuals so that each interested person is connected and gets the attention of the organisers. Mahoor does everything by herself, from administration to guiding the trekkers.

The specific rules are followed while taking individuals on hikes and walks. Protocols such as what shoes to wear and what things to carry so that trekking is hassle-free are strictly followed.

So far, Mahoor has organised trips to Buddhist Monastery Harwan, and mountain treks to Srinagar outskirts, besides various craft visits, where it was a unique learning experience about weaving and weavers for the visitors.

heritage walks for history buffs and travel enthusiasts.The first nature walk was open to all. About 40 individuals joined the group where the oldest one was 56 years old and the youngest one was 14.

“People from different areas and backgrounds show their interest to join our walks. They want to explore more. They want to be part of such trips,” she says.

 “I make it a point to familiarize all the trekkers with our traditional food that is generally served in earthenware.”

The word about ‘The Whirling Zoon’ expeditions has reached quite far. Mahoor even had some clients from Bangalore, who wanted a curated tour of Mughal Gardens.

The upcoming heritage walks would be in South Kashmir, which would be informed through ‘The Whirling Zoon’ Instagram handle. Besides, the visit to various craft centres to make them meet craftsmen, are also in pipeline.

“People get to know one another and share numerous contemplations about anything and everything. It is actually an incredible experience to meet and interact with people coming from different cultures and interests,” says Mahoor.

“Young ladies are cheerfully being a part of it and their folks are likewise permitting them, after posing me few enquiries about the visit and hikes,” she adds.

Mahoor charges a nominal fee from the trekkers so that she could manage the affairs.

“Initially, there were no charges. However, presently, we charge some fees so that we could manage the operations. However, for the students, the fee is minimum,” she says.

Mahoor is also a professional jewellery designer. She manages her business of Jewellery on the online platform, Instagram, by the name ‘Imroz Kashmir’.

heritage walks for history buffs and travel enthusiasts.heritage walks for history buffs and travel enthusiasts.







“I balance both my passion and profession,” says Mahoor.

The hikes she organises are about knowing the society and culture of Kashmir. Mahoor was planning for an overnight shift as well but, it has not been possible as yet for “The Whirling Zoon”.

“I maintain that people should know their own region, Kashmir has many historical spots, reach out to the local community and know about their lives, we ought to accomplish something which is really great for local people and furthermore, which does not hurt environment too,” she says.

People should follow their enthusiasm and attempt to make something out of it. She encourages all the young explorers, particularly females, to follow their passion and dreams.

“I maintain that an ever-increasing number of people should follow their passion and should not be bothered about negativity,” says Mahoor.

“Live your life, regardless of assuming that you won’t succeed, keep attempting till you reach your goals,” with this advice to her peers, Mahoor signs off.

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SKUAST-K launches anticancer functional foods startup



Anticancer functional foods startup

BK News

Srinagar, Dec 22: Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir has launched the first-of-its-kind faculty-student startup, ‘Cashmir Biotech Pvt Ltd’, an anticancer functional foods startup, at the Shalimar campus.

The research-driven startup, formulated under the aegis of SKUAST-K Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (SKIIE) Center, aims to design high-value anticancer functional foods from underutilised plants endogenous to Kashmir.

Dr Khalid Z Masoodi, an assistant professor at the SKUAST-K’s Division of Plant Biotechnology, Faculty of Horticulture, along with his two MSc students, Dar Murtaza and Aaqib Hurrah, has founded the startup. Cashmir Biotech has already commercialised its first functional food. Magic Food is considered a safe, non-toxic plant-based futuristic functional food possessing TaxO an anticancer molecule. The startup aims to design high-value functional foods from underutilised edible plants endogenous to the Kashmir Valley.

Vice Chancellor, SKUAST-K, Prof Nazir Ahmad Ganai, in his address during the launch function, congratulated Dr Khalid Masoodi and his students for building the significant startup. He said there is tremendous potential for such research-based and innovation-led startups, and the rich bioresource-base present in this Himalayan region can be tapped for producing high-value superfoods, nutraceuticals and medicines to strengthen the bioeconomy of J&K He further reiterated that as per NEP 2020 and NISP the faculty members should take the similar initiatives to encourage and guide their students into developing innovation-led startups and create future entrepreneurs. 

Anticancer functional foods startup

Director Agriculture Kashmir Chowdhary Mohammad Iqbal, who attended the launch event, stressed the need for similar Agri-based startups to encourage youth to become job providers rather than job seekers. Director Extension SKUAST-K Prof Dil Mohammad Makhdoomi, Registrar SKUAST-K Prof Tariq Masoodi, Deputy Commissioner J&K Drug & Food Control Shagufta Jalal, Senior Scientist IIIM Srinagar Dr Shahid Rasool; Dr Syed Nisar, Associate Professor of Medical Oncology, Dr Malik Sajad Ahmed Associate Professor of Urology at SKIMS and Professor Mohammad Ashraf Bhat, Head Division of Plant Biotechnology and various scientists and officers of the university also attended the function.

Developed by Dr Masoodi and his team, Magic Food is a designer food that harbours an anticancer molecule TaxO. It has been developed from an edible underutilised plant which has been used as food for ages in Kashmir but its use has diminished over time.

While providing details, Dr Masoodi says Magic Food targets the androgen receptor (AR), a key gene involved in prostate cancer. AR is a therapeutic target for most of the medicines available in the market against prostate cancer. AR controls PSA, the main marker for Prostate cancer.

“We are marketing the first line of Magic Food- TaxO, and we propose the use of TaxO as a functional food that can be consumed on daily basis by populations vulnerable to prostate cancer. Director Planning and Monitoring and an Expert in Food Science and Technology, Prof Haroon Naik, in his address, highlighted the need for the consumption of functional foods for the prevention of different diseases which have emerged in our population due to changes in food habits.

Magic Food was recently highlighted in the introductory documentary of Department of Science and Technology, Govt of India in its Kashmir Expo Startup for Livelihood. Magic Food got attention from various foreign markets as well. “However, instead of selling the technology, our Vice-Chancellor took the lead under the Government of India’s Make in India, Innovate India and Self-Reliant India initiatives to make way for the first faculty-student startup of the university,” said Masoodi.

Cashmir Biotech Pvt Ltd is incubated at SKIIE Centre, SKUAST-K under NEP-2020 and NISP for commercialising Magic Food.

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Kashmir Angel Network holds discussion on startup expectations



Kashmir Angel Network discussion

BK News

Srinagar, Dec 17: Kashmir Angel Network (KAN) Saturday held a stakeholder discussion on ‘startup expectation from angel investors’ at its corporate office here.

The discussion was the second in a series titled KANversations: Unlocking Opportunities aimed to bring together various stakeholders from the startup ecosystem to talk about the issues that exist in the industry as well as the potential that exist in it.

The second KANversation’s primary objective was to have a discussion on the expectations that startups and other stakeholders have of the angel network. During the course of the conversation, participants from a variety of startups, corporate lawyers, academics, and journalists explored a wide range of challenges being faced for the creation of a viable startup ecosystem.

During the course of the discussion, Shabir Handoo, Chairman of KAN, brought up a number of different concerns, including the organisational structure of enterprises in J&K. He stated that “the enterprises may be scaled up to the national and global levels with the correct sort of interventions both financially and legally.”

He added, “Kashmir Angel Network has also begun assisting already-established enterprises with the myriad of legal and regulatory formalities necessary for the development and expansion of the enterprises.”

The stakeholders who were present at the Kashmir Angel Network discussion also discussed the necessity to provide mentorship for the creation of feasible prototypes in new enterprises, as well as the methods in which the notion of Angel Network may be brought to the attention of those searching for investment opportunities.

The discussion also focussed on the various other features of angel networks and the need to provide incubation spaces to early-stage Startups, which provide solutions beyond the plug-and-play facilities.

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Kashmir Angel Network strikes KANversations



Kashmir Angel Network
BK News

Srinagar, Dec 3: Kashmir Angel Network, the first valley-based angel investor group for mentoring and financing disruptive startups, Saturday kickstarted a series of discussions titled ‘KANversations: Unlocking Opportunities’ at its corporate office here.

The aim of the ‘KANversations’ is to bring together different stakeholders from the startup ecosystem to discuss challenges as well as opportunities in the market.

The focus of first KANversation was to discuss the legal framework for the startups including the compliances, regulations and governance. During the discussion, various chartered accountants, corporate lawyers, academics, journalists and startups put across viewpoints for creating a vibrant startup ecosystem.

Chairman, Kashmir Angel Network (KAN), Shabir Handoo, while talking about the initiative said, “The network is a first-of-its-kind initiative from our region and is passionately driven by professionals working across the globe in various leadership roles. It is a network of investors, mentors, and entrepreneurs from across the globe committed to working with startups and existing businesses.”

KAN is focused on providing investment support to startups.

“To succeed, we provide support in a range of areas, including, regulatory compliances, registrations support and advisory, valuation services, financial and legal structuring, mentoring support as well as technology development,” Handoo added.

In his remarks, a globally known educationist, Dr Farooq Wasil mentioned, that KANversations has today opened the doors for dialogue and shall pave the way for strengthening the enterprises and building the network for creating the required change in the startup ecosystem.

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