Kashmir a better times
"There was once a paradise", said the old man, "where everyone wanted to live a peaceful life", then unfortunately it became a war ground, more than two decades of civil war has badly hit kashmir. it had drained the resources and hindered growth. there was fear and containment left in the heart of tourists. since past few years peace has prevailed in the valley, tourists are coming back to kashmir to enjoy it's beauty and wild valleys. now it is in the revival process a new beginning, a new life for the people and a new start for tourism.
kashmir has been an iconic place for shooting of movies in the 60's and later became famous with British families, who came here to spend their holidays. The valley changes it beauty simultaneously with every season starting from the cold winters when it is covered with the shroud of snow and frost, people bear the cold in the hope of a better spring season. it reminds me of a verse from Shelly's poem. "if the winter comes can spring be far behind". Winters slowly gives way to spring, it comes in full gusto flowers bloom and the mustard fields spread like the yellow carpet. Then the summer months fill the lakes and streams, people eat fruits like watermelon & apples to keep their cool. again a seasonal change happens in September when it is time for autumn to shed the leaves of trees and dip them quietly in the lakes. Bright colored trees of autumn turn bare and sickly in cold winters, In every season nature shows its glamor and grandeur in kashmir. The bedazzling and bewildering valleys of kashmir remain a strong & succinct subjects of beauty for the observer, the fresh and crisp air flows from the meadows and tall pines while the streams, apple orchids, pink almond bloom and rice fields form a part of its rich diversity.
|on the way to pahalgam|
Pahalgam and Gulmarg
Pahalgam and gulmarg are the two definite valleys which people visit. Pahalgam is a beautiful valley covered with tall mountains and river lidder runs through it. during hot summer's it provides as a refreshing & relaxing spot for the people of srinagar. adjacent valleys of aru and chandanwari provide breathtaking natural landscapes, wild charm and green forest lanes are immaculate with rows of pines and spruce. Beetab valley and Baisairn valleys are the reminiscent of the old bygone era in which English people used to amuse themselves in the pleasure of hunting and chasing wild bears, angling trout from the cold water streams and shooting the birds for a delicious meal. The mountain valley of lidderwat is accessible by a short trek from aru village. It falls on the trekking route to koholoi mountain the highest peak in kashmir.
For the golf enthusiasts gulmarg golf course is a cocoon filled with rich greens, wildflowers and adjacent old church. who wouldn't like to play a game of golf in this blissful environment where valleys and green meadows will give you the company and encourage you to be more close to nature. Gulmarg is a valley located high up in the mountains covered with tall pine and fir forests. This valley is known for large number of snowfalls. Every winter gulmarg hosts a number of events and winter sports activities, the skiers love to ski on the slopes of gulmarg. Gondola or cable car is a famous tourist vehicle, it ferries tourists high up in the affarwat mountains and from there they can enjoy some good views of the distant mountains and valleys.During all the winter months gulmarg is covered in thick snow but the hotels remain open for ski & adventure buffs. Summers provide a great views of the valley when the meadows turn into green carpets and sheep's graze in them. wildflowers grow along the paths and plants bloom everywhere. Gulmarg is most visited place in kashmir open throughout the year for tourists.
|A beautiful view of gulmarg meadows in autumn|
The valley of sonmarg is a four hours drive from srinagar. tourists love to visit sonmarg because it offers some of the best views of villages and sindh river on whose banks this valley is located.It is also a favorite destination for the pilgrims going for amaranth cave pilgrimage. In winters it is cold and many hotels are closed there. So in summer months it receives the more amount of people who enjoy its cool weather and beautiful sights.The thajwas glacier is easily accessible by walk or pony ride, snow remains there almost for a year. Sonmarg was very beautiful and praised since older times and still now it has kept that unsurpassed charm which flourishes in its deep forests and ravines. a tour of sonmarg can be completed in one day, There are various activities which can be done at sonmarg like horse riding to thajwas, sightseeing tour to zero point on zojilla leh highway. trip to baltal the starting point of yatra. fishing in sindh river. there is a also a very beautiful park maintained by Jk government. to make a happy day in sonmarg don't forget to play in the cold water. besides this sonmarg is a very good place for photography and hiking.
Srinagar, A very historic city in the heart of kashmir has seen many things changing from the local government to the partition of the nation. This city was formed on the banks of Dal & river jehlum. Many shrines and temples were erected in its different towns which signified the brotherhood of Hindu & Muslim communities living harmoniously in its lap. Today the city of srinagar is a hideout for many people who seek spiritual guidance. There are lots of Sufi shrines to visit also the Masjid of nowhatta which is one of the old mosque there. The shrines of shahi hamdan the spiritual guide and a Sufi saint who came to kashmir in earlier days. These shrines depict the faith of kashmiri people and are important for their religious duties. The Islamic architecture of these shrines is amazing with old world charm. Carved out of wood these holy places have stood witness to the cultural and religious metamorphosis of folks. Hazratbal is another historic holy shrine having the relic Plenty of devotees come here every friday to offer mid day prayers. So avoid going there on Friday you will face lot of crowd. Srinagar city has lots of markets where you will find different and unique merchandize, you will also find shops of tailors where they made custom clothing like made to measure and ethnic clothing's. you should visit these shops to get yourself a smart phiren or shalwar kameez.
|Paddling a shikara in dallake|
Enjoy A Pure Kashmiri Hospitality in Houseboats
Worried about accommodation in kashmir? there are some good hotels on boulevard road and in other posh locations of city like raj bagh, nishat, etc. Now five star hotels branded by the names of taj, lalit are also running in kashmir. If you don't have a bulgy pocket & don't want to stay in these high branded hotels, i would suggest you to stay in houseboat for at least one night to get the real feeling of kashmiri traditional hospitality. The service and food served in houseboats are great. these boats are moored at once place and remain stagnant, you have to ferry across the lake in a small colorful shikara to reach to a houseboat. generally the crossing is free if you are staying in one of the boats. A shikara trip of the lake can be a great highlight of your kashmir valley tour, you will closely observe the life of lake dweller's how they raise their children and how they manage to live on the waters.
|Houseboats with flower lawns|
Buy these things in Kashmir
- kashmiri handmade carpets remain the most loved possessions of art loving people around the world, they come in different variants made from silk, wool and cotton. handmade in the looms and households of kashmiri village homes, these rugs take lot of time and patience before they become worthy of the beauty and intricate details of different designs and shapes. the artisans put lot of themselves in these carpets, they stay inside all wintery days knotting and weaving these colorful carpets.
- Paper machie is a very intricate and skillful work done by the artisans of kashmir. it was brought down from Persia as a mean to give new skills to unemployed Kashmir's. Slowly it found it's way in the international market. Paper is well beaten and smashed before the artist starts to paint it with his crafty hand.
- Saffron is cultivated in kashmir, it is used here by the local chefs to prepare wedding dishes.
Kashmir has seen lots of changes in these two decades, but it's beauty has remained unchanged there is still a fog covered dallake in the morning and fountains jetting in mughal gardens, fruit blossoms of vibrant colors decorating the trees and you can lost in the sweet songs of birds in evening as the sun goes down past the lake. come to kashmir and you will discover it's splendid beauty yourself.