Long Post Alert!!!!
When the Humsafar and I were planning our mid year holiday , several countries from Dubai to Mauritius to Fiji to Vietnam crossed our minds, sadly not even one Indian destination popped up. The same afternoon while I was browsing on Facebook , the cover picture of holidayiq caught my eye. Curious to know the location, I clicked on the pic and followed through to the website and was pleasantly surprised that the location was Kashmir @’HAMARA BHARAT’. For a minute I felt guilty that even after being home to such spectacular places a looootttt of us prefer to holiday outside India, since the ‘cool’ quotient is high. Is it not our responsibility to promote the wonders of our country before singing praises about the others?? A little too philosophical for a travel blog right??? Ok , getting back on track… I believe that as Indians we possess average marketing skills and the splendour of Kashmir explains why!
So we decided to embark on our journey to Kashmir on 14th August ( no real reason just good airfares!!) Srinagar was our first stop. Just the walk from the airport to the security post was enough for us to sit back and brace ourselves for an unbelievable vacation!
Srinagar has beautiful attractions and all of them are a must do – Boat ride in Dal Lake, floating vegetable market in Dal Lake, the Shankaracharya temple, Hazratbal dargah, the Shalimar and Nishat gardens and Chasme Shahi.
Chashme Shahi is one of the places where water is in its purest form .. and during the olden days Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru used to come by helicopter to take water from here to Delhi. It is believed to have medicinal properties.However, I wish the public would respect these places of interest and learn to preserve them.
The Market @ Lal Chowk , Srinagar is a great place to pick up carpets, kashmiri silk, dry fruits and artifacts made of walnut wood.
Day 2 was Sonmarg and what a wonderful drive from Srinagar it is!The beautiful Indus river in all its purity looks milky white. The horse ride to the oldest glacier in Sonmarg is beautiful and words or pictures do no justice to this. It is a little under rated destination in Kashmir.
Gulmarg is the only place in Kashmir where I felt a little disappointed since the commercial aspect overtakes the beauty of the place. While it is beautiful, and the gondola ride is worth it, the way in which the ‘agents’ swarm tourists is a little upsetting. Nevertheless, still worth a day trip. If your guide is good, he will take you for a trek from Phase 1 to Khilanmarg which is breath taking.
Pahalgam is a place which needs a couple of days to explore just because it has soooo many good places – Baisaran Valley, Lidder River, betaab valley etc to name a few. It is very important to choose a hotel as close to the river as possible. The Lidder river is gorgeous and it runs into Pakistan as well. The sound of the water flowing on the rocks and pebbles and with no other sound to intercept it, gives us city people a glimpse of what we are missing. Baisaran valley, popularly known as ‘Mini Switzerland’ is a must must must must go . In fact , if I am asked to compare the two , my vote without a doubt would go to Baisaran ,since we get the chance to actually be amidst the valley as opposed to Switzerland where we just catch a glimpse of the entire valley while commuting in the Eurorail.
En route Pahalgam, one gets to see the vast acres of Kesar fields, apple orchards and rice fields. The rich produce of this state makes it irresistible for all other countries!
This trip justifies the true meaning of ‘India Shining’ and ‘Athithi devo bhava’ The people are so hospitable , secular and very tolerant contrary to popular belief. All they want is to be accepted whole heartedly by the rest of India without an ounce of doubt. We have returned from the trip as prouder Indians.. Jai Hind!!