"Gar Bar ru e Zamin Ast Hamin Ast Hamin Ast Hamin ast" If there is Paradise on earth, its here,its here,its here ( King Jahangir the 4th Mughal Emperor) and thats exactly what i felt when I first went to Kashmir.
Kashmir , the "Paradise on Earth", is known for its captivating beauty . Forming the backdrop of Kashmir,these snow caped ranges make Kashmir look like a picture straight out of a fairytale. Dazzling rivers,serene lakes, splendid gardens,flowering meadows, features of landscape of Kashmir Valley. The breath taking beauty of Kashmir has earned it the name of "Switzerland of india". Nothing describes the beauty of Kashmir better than King Jahangir said. I Planned my trip to Kashmir with a lot of negative comments coming from my friends, but as a traveller you always need to take a chance,so did I. It was late November and finally got my trip fixed and after so much of media hush hush about Kashmir , I was a bit nervous travelling to kashmir.The moment I landed at the Srinagar Airport I could feel the chilled breeze and a mixed good bad feeling. And slowly comes the shock of my life when I arrive at the Srinagar Airport checking, few cops come and take me to the tourist offficer where I was asked to submit my address proof and other documents. I was already having butterflies in my stomach in no time after I arrived srinagar like why the hell did I come.Ten mintues later I go to the taxi stand where I see 100's of Army men in guns and men around looking at me like a ALIEN just landed. I sit in the Taxi arranged by the tourist offcier to drop me at the hotel I had booked at the J&K Toursim huts.I drive through the city with a old guy who is accompanying the driver and all I noticed is Army gun men all around like something bad is gonna happen now. Half way drive from the airport the old guy gets down and says good bye to me and I asked him why he is getting out and he says" he is an police officer incharge of tourist like me who come solo and its for our safety" and shows me his ID card. ufffffffffffffffffffff . There I take a deep breath and the journey starts for me being all happy positive. And I realise that the Army is doing its duty and its normal in Kashmir and its for the safety of the people why its on high alert all time. I arrive at the Srinagar JKTDC Cheshmashahi Huts which i booked a 1BHK Hut. Could not wait to see how the hut looked like and the moment i entred the hut I was the most happiest person ever , It was like living a fairytale , the type of place I always wanted to live beneath the hills and mountains and total silence and a small garden ,place for campfire and woods already available since the hut was surrounded with big huge trees.I could not ask for more , I was feeling blessed and all positive.
By the time I adjusted myself and looked around it was late evening freezing cold,chilled air and dint wanna go anywhere ,but just being in the hut and enjoy the moment. And the best part about J&K huts is that all huts have a private help and u can call him anytime u need help, for food or anything. And good things kept happening, the help who was incharge of my hut was an amazing kashmiri. I asked if its possible we could make campfire at night and if he can buy some chicken and we make BBQ and if he would like to have dinner with me and he was the happiest. he bought his friend along both made some rice and dal in the kitchen while I set the campfire for the BBQ. What an amazing experience it was.
What an amazing night and conversation. And then I get to know what kashmiris are in real,amazing human beings and more info on where I should go and what I should do. And bcoz I was travelling on limited budget they helped me with a auto guy, who could come pick me next day morning and take me places. And next day Im all set to go..
My first site was to Pari Mahal, In ancient times people beleived fairies lived in that palace. And after I saw it I too belived so.The Mughal gardens (Shalimar) and Pari Mahal are very beautiful and worth the trip.The garden provides a great panorama over the Srinagar area.
After visiting Pari Mahal , I was more curious to see the city and local markets in Old Srinagar. As a traveller I never let go a chance to visit local markets, Be it India or Abroad. So i asked him to take me around Srinagar and visit some mosques and local places.Starting with the Khanqah Shah-i-Hamadan mosque in the old city, dating from the 1730s. It is a beautiful spired building decorated with papier mache and wood panelling.Next was the plainer but larger Jama Masjid from 1672 which has four sides organised around a large courtyard in its centre. The covered areas were supported by 372 plain wooden pillars.
Visiting Old Srinagar and Roza Bal, the crypt/shrine of Yuz Asaf, also known as Jesus - many resources confirm that Jesus fled to Kashmir after the crucifizion. It was a moving experience - can't really be put into words.
I also have seen Lal Chowk, known as New Srinagar and surrounding areas.Visit to the local mosques around and talking to locals was a great experince and refreshing about all the bad thoughts we carry over our mind after the media speculations on kashmir and kashmiris. Next day I climbed the Shankaracharya hill to see the Hindu Tempe, built on a site known as the new Takht-I-Sulemein. After the long long long walk I was dead tired and just wanted to run to my hut ,so did I and before that I decided to go buy some woods for fire and the auto guys takes me to the local place and that evening drive I would never forget in my life, SUNSET ,CHILLED EVENING ,COZY DRIVE UMMMMM loved each and every moment of just being in Srinagar. The picture you see below I took siting in my auto richshaw and the thought I had in my mind was to build a tent and camp there and then.
The next I was all set to explore The beautiful Dal Lake and Zhelum Lake.OMG What should I say about lake. Dal Lake is the most important landmark of Srinagar. It figures high on tourist itineraries and every tourist to the Kashmir valley makes it a point to visit the water body. Dal Lake is lined by gardens built in the Mughal era and many parks. Mughals, who were smitten by the beauty of Kashmir, laid extensive gardens to heighten its beauty. The best views of the lake can be seen from the Shalimar Garden and Nishat Garden that were built during the reign of Mughal Emperor, Jehangir. Covering an area of 18 sq km, the Dal Lake is part of a natural wetland that covers an area of about 21 sq km which includes floating gardens. The floating gardens are known as ‘Rad’ in Kashmiri language. The floating gardens are known for the lotus flowers that blossom during the months of July and August. The Dal Lake is divided into four basins, Bod Dal, Nagin (also a separate lake), Gagribal and Lokut Dal. There is an island in the middle of Bod Dal also known as Sona Lank. Lokut Dal is also known as Rup Lank and Char Chinari. At a surface elevation of almost 5,200 ft, the Dal Lake has an average depth of almost 5 ft and a maximum depth of 20 ft. The Dal Lake has a catchment area of 316 sq km. There are two theories for the origin of the lake – one states that it is a post-glacial lake that has undergone a lot of changes in size over the years. The other theory of the origin of the lake states that the Dal Lake was formed due to flood spillage from the Jhelum River.while the surrounding Korakoram Range of the Himalayas was blanketed, only patches of snow spotted the gray shores of Dal Lake as a taxi-boater paddled us across glassy waters in a shikara .Hundreds of elaborately trimmed houseboats lay vacant.
After spending a long time in Dal lake and around it was time for some kashmiri food. Have heard so much about kashmiri food but non of the Restaurants in Srinagar were impressive.
And like all females I went crazy street shopping for some jackets.Bargaining with kashmiris is totaly fun and flirt.Lal chowk offers a lot of shopping for kids,young and old since it was few days away from snowing.
As my days were passing by it was'nt enough for me, being in Srinagar. Srinagar made me fall in love with her every second.I decided to make few more rounds near by srinagar area which included drive to NAGIN LAKE. If couples go to Srinagar one thing I would surely recommend is take a bike and go driving to Nagin Lake,it would end being the most romantic drives of ur life . Apart from it NISHAT GARDEN is another amazing and most beautiful mughal gardens one must see.
I made a quick trip to Kher Bhavani temple which is an hour drive from Srinagar.Its on the way to Leh,This is one temple you must visit, I was lucky to go during off season coz I privately get to chat with the main priest. Was surprising for me to know from him whn he told me that the temple indicates any sort of natuaral disaster on earth before it takes places and one of the incidents was the kedarnath floods in Uttrakhand.
Srinagar is endless beauty.Late evenings i sat down at the camp fire with pin drop silence. From far away you could see the house boat lights blinking, could hear prayers from the mosque coming from far away and dogs barking and houling and the cold breeze just makes you feel like you living in some paradise. next day i had to leave to Gulmarg and had no clue what was in store for me there.My heart felt so much pain when i said good bye to the 2 guys who were so much caring every single mintue and made sure things wee good with me. My heart said one more night but i just could not.GULMARG was awaiting me.I had to leave.But i knew for sure that it wont be the last time im coming to srinagar and that many more trips are lined up for me in this city and bid good bye to BEAUTIFUL SRINAGAR.