Bringing Back Some Hues from the Beautiful Valley Of Kashmir

The Valley Of Kashmir

“There is always a silver lining behind the dark clouds”, overcoming the dark cloud of “Fear” did we touch the silver lining of the beautiful “Valley Of Kashmir”. Little did we (our family) know this trip would leave us with so many spectacular and warm memories of the wonderful people of Kashmir.

This time around we decided to travel to Kashmir, the most “in news” state of our country, for all the very wrong reasons though! The Gurupurb holiday clubbed with a weekend gave us the three days to plan our trip. We left for Kashmir, fraught with all the apprehensions in the world, and yet excited. On arrival at the airport we were warmly greeted by Dr. M.H Wani, an academician, working towards nation building in his own humble ways; however we didn’t know how our myopic views about this breathtaking place were to be altered by the end of this trip!

The Colors Of Kashmir

The Colors Of Kashmir


The Valley Of Kashmir

The Valley Of Kashmir

colors-of-kashmir

We stayed with a family known to us in Srinagar, the capital city of Kashmir. The architecture patterns adopted here is quite different from that in Delhi, the houses have slanting steep slopes to make way for the snow with drainage pipes snaking through the contours to let the water, accumulated due to rain or snow, to seep to the ground. The whole city looks so amazing with big two-three storied houses/buildings with steep slopes.

houses-of-kashmir

houses-of-kashmir

[The state is quite opposite to what is usually portrayed by the media with happy people all around busy in their routine chores in phirans, contrary to the only inhabitants “the security personnel and BSF”, as is often thought by people like us, coming from different parts of the country., courtesy our media and politicians.
sunset-at-dal-lake

sunset-at-dal-lake

The beauty of the state cannot be described in words; it has to be seen to be cherished in the real sense of the word. It appears as if Mother Nature has blessed this valley with all her bounty and grandeur! The Valley is full of the mighty mountains, lush greenery, and blossoms of pinks, whites, yellows and flowers of all the rarest varieties. The Chinar trees account for most of the elegance, painting the entire canvas with myriad of colors. It is often quoted by the locals that our former Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi visited Kashmir often to relish this picturesque state when the chinar trees were in their full bloom. It takes one’s breath away to see the nature in all its colors of greens, oranges, yellows, and reds! The skies here are awesome azure with cotton like ivory clouds! The magic the valley wreathes one with is accentuated with the quaint charm of houseboats or Shikaras of Dal Lake. It’s said that the houseboat were introduced accidentally in Kashmir. Most of British Civil and Military officers serving in the plains used to come to Kashmir with their families for holidays. They wanted to build houses for themselves but the Maharaja (King) of Kashmir of that time was suspicious of their designs and did not allow them to buy land, so they built the first Houseboat- named Victory designed by Mr. M T Kenhard in 1888. Later on others copied this design and now there are about 500 Houseboats in Srinagar for commercial purposes.
shikara

shikara

We got a chance to actually experience what heaven could be like, the “Jannat”, as if often said about the Valley. We visited places like the Mughal Gardens namely, Nishat Bagh: The Garden of bliss laid down by Asif Khan Father of Empress Noorjahan in 1633AD on the bank of Dal Lake with Zabarvan Massif at the back. One can enjoy the magnificent view of the Dal Lake and the snow capped Pir Panchal range to the west of the valley from Nishat.
nishat-bagh

nishat-bagh

Shalimar Bagh: ’The Abode Of Love.’ It is said to have been a village, built by Paravarassna II. He used to stay here when on a visit to Sukhswami, a saint living near Harwan. In 1619 Jehangir ordered a garden to be laid out on this spot, calling it, Ferrah Bakkash (Delightful). In 1727 A.D Zaffar-Khan, a governor during the reign of Shah Jahan made an extension of it and called it ‘Faiz Baksh’ (Bountiful). The garden is laid down in four terraces, rising one above the other. A canal runs through the garden lined with polished stones and supplies water from Harwan.Chasma – Shahi.
shalimar-garden

shalimar-garden

Hari Prabat: The Hill of Hari Parbat which is visible from every part of the city, 400 feet above the plain. Legend says the hill grew from a pebble dropped by the goddess Parvati to crush a demon, in the form of Sharika bird (Maina). This is called now Hari Parbat.
Shankrancharya Temple: The Shankaracharya temple is situated in the Srinagar district on the hill known as Takht-e-Suleiman. It is housed at a height of 1100 ft. above surface level of the main city on the hill. It is believed that Raja Gopadatya got the temple constructed in 371 BC, giving it the name of Gopadri. The great philosopher Shankaracharya is supposed to have stayed here when he visited Kashmir to revive Sanatan Dharma. This incident, which took place ten centuries ago, led to the renaming of the temple as the Shankracharya temple.
Hazrat Bal: The Hazratbal mosque is situated in Srinagar district, on the western banks of the picturesque Dal Lake. Facing the beautiful Nishat Bagh, the mosque offers a spectacular view of the lake and the mountain afar. This revered shrine houses the Moi-e-Muqqadus (preserved sacred hair) of Prophet Mohammad. Public display of the hair takes place only on religious occasions. Some of the other names of the Hazrat Bal mosque are Assar-e-Sharief, Madinat-us-Sani and Dargah Sharif. One of the most revered Muslim shrines, Hazratbal is an epitome of the love and respect of Muslims for the Prophet.
hazrat-bal

hazrat-bal

Since we were short of time we planned a trip to Gulmarg,
56 kms from Srinagar, one and a half hour journey, 2690 mts above sea level. .It is also called the “Meadow of flowers”.
way-to-gulmarg

way-to-gulmarg

It is one of the most splendid hill resorts in the country, falling in the Baramulla Distt of Kashmir. Gulmarg hill resort boasts of not only picturesque locales, but also of the highest golf course in the world. Situated at a height of 2,650 m, Gulmarg golf course is one of the major attractions of the awesome hill station.
mountain-ranges-gulmarg

mountain-ranges-gulmarg

.Along with that, Gulmarg is also quite famous as a skiing destination in winters. The drive to Gulmarg is as beautiful as the hill station itself. Alongside the road, the scenery changes from boulevard of poplar to smooth vastness of rice fields, sprinkled with some pleasing villages. The fir-covered hills characterize the ascent to Gulmarg, Kashmir.
gulmarg

gulmarg

The drive to Gulmarg is filled with a number of colors, changing with the season. From the translucent green of spring to summer’s rich emerald to autumn’s golden hues, the scenery has something to offer in every season. One can also take a Gandola ride (cable car ride) from this “Meadow Of Flowers”, taking the tourists up to Kongdori, to enjoy the magnificent sights of the meadow from the top.
cable-car-trip

cable-car-trip

One can then take a walk to far stretches to witness the alluring and welcoming valley, explore varied species of trees and plants or simply revel at the stunning beauty savoring a cup of hot “kava”-the Kashmiri tea!
Other places to visit are Pahalgam, Sonmarg, Yusmarg, which ofcourse require time and due to time constrain, we could not cover the places. But surely we were touched by the simplicity and hospitality of the locals and we left for Delhi with a pledge in our hearts to come back to this magical state again and re-ponder on what all is being fed to us by the media. This state is a part of our country, and all of us belong to India. We need to rethink about the divide of nation on basis of religion/ideas and traditions. Are we actually doing justice to the people of Kashmir or for that matter the enticing state of Kashmir? So lets us come together, put all the bad taste behind and visit Kashmir to experience first hand the people and the state in all its brilliance.

dal-lake
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  • Patrick Jones

    Wow! Splendid!

    Its about the pics. Shall read the text later :-)

    • mala

      The Valley is in full bloom currently:)

  • Patrick

    Really wonderful pictures – Is it really so colorful out there? Typical Autumn colours. Lovely.

    The other Patrick

  • mala

    Hi! The Valley is awesome…full of breath-taking colors…we went to Kashmir on 30 th oct and returned on 2 nd nov..so its most recent:)

  • Mahesh Semwal

    Dear Mala,

    Wowwwwwwwwww picture are very beautiful specially the sunset one , nishat bagh & the last one (Is it Dal Lake?)

    • mala

      yeah..the place is just majestic….no words actually to describe the beauty..the last pic is of Dal Lake..the reflection of the adjoining Chinar trees in the Lake:)

  • Mahesh Semwal

    Dear Mala,

    Thanks for giving the information regarding the history of the houseboat. It would be helpful for the other Gumakkars if you could share what are the charges of cable car , is it safe to go by road , name of some of the good restaurants

    • mala

      Sure..Kashmir is very safe..atleast of now..
      well the gondola or the cable car takes the tourists to two places..its called phase one(Rs.300/- per person) and the second phase(higher mountains..were u cud see snowing currently..thats costs Rs500/-) We went for the first phase only…

  • Ankit

    Excellent write-up and pics. My wife was there from the 29th through the 2nd and enjoyed it as well. Unfortunately, she had a horrible experience as a “professional” photographer deleted all her pics on her digicam prior to snapping a couple in a “phiren” (what he was originally asked to do).

    • mala

      Hey ! ankit
      oh:(..yep i guess thats a way they earn their living..by photographing people in Kashmiri “Phiren”, however inspite of the bad xperience she might have really enjoyed her visit:)..anyways have clicked a number of landscape snaps..do let me know of your email id..shall mail them to you as well:)

      • Ankit

        She did enjoy it and do plan on going back together this time around. She loved the nature and scenery a lot. My email id is Ankit [dot] Public [at] Gmail…. Looking forward to your pics! Thanks!

        • mala

          sure..m mailing dem..chk dem out

          mala

  • Wow !! never been there. Looks so much tempting. Thanks Mala for bringing Kashmir closer. I would borrow what Gregory, author of Shantarm, said , tourism brings tolerance. Probably what we need is to get Kashmir back on International travel map.

    Your brilliant log is definitely one solid baby step towards that and as you so rightly said that fellow Ghumakkars can make a big difference.

    Thanks again Mala.

    • mala

      Thanks Nandan,

      Firstly for updating me on how to upload the snaps…this time i guess i managed well and secondly for encouraging my baby step indeed!

      Actually i felt so strongly about this cause that i thought of bringing the “Real Kashmir” atleast closer to fellow travellers. We have to put the rumors and every strong feeling behind and accept this state and people of this state with open arms…, truly as one of us…
      I hope i can make a small change to alter our set perceptions about Kashmir..and atleast some of the Ghummakars travel to the beautiful Valley and feel the warmth themselves:)

      Mala

  • Vishal M

    Gr8! Thanks for giving us a dose of Kashmir……….We keep reading regarding other places….but this one is special…..Is it perfectly safe to move around….How was fooding available…..Given a chance a road trip of complete valley wud be fantastic……..thanks mala……

    • mala

      Hi Vishal,
      It is absolutely safe, guess our fears are keeping us from visiting this beautiful place…u can see BSF personnels but there is no such concern..its probably only to be on the safer side …but when we spoke to the locals ..it seems they dont actually feel good about so much of security..now they are tired of being watched and guarded..they want to live a normal life..so atleast if more people travel to Kashmir and enjoy their hospitality and make them feel as one amongst us probably this bad taste would end:)
      u should travel to Kashmir..do let me know when and i could get my friend who is in travel business to help you out.
      Mala

  • Beautiful images. The landscapes look very colourful.

    • mala

      Hey! Arun,
      Thanks, it is indeed magnificent!

  • Beautiful amazing pics

  • Well

    So it was a your nice trip to Kashmir valley. you explained all the places you visit nicely. Yes Mala it is really a place we can say jannat on earth, I have also been there. really it was good experience to see such a beautiful place in our country.

    I did not see Gulmarg instead I went to Sonamarg, I also went to one most sacred place there i.e. Amarnath cave.

    But did you stayed in the house boat. Its really a new and amazing experience to stay in the houseboat. and I hope you must have taken Shikara (small Boat) to see all around the Dal lake, its nice to see Dal lake in Shikara.

    I went to Srinagar by road which was also an new experience for me but came back by air to save the time.

    any way it seems you really enjoyed the trip to Srinagar

    • mala

      Hi
      It was indeed a wonderful experience …no we din’t stay in the houseboat, though the option seemed very enticing. Probably shall try that next time around.
      Mala

  • Huzkeel Ahmed

    Wow,Mala,
    what a write up,i being a kashmiri would not have been able to put the beauti of kashmir so beautifully in words.
    However it is just 1/1000 of what kashmir is alll about…leaving aside the poltical status.

    when you go again to kashmir–try to visit-Dachigam city forest,phalgam,aru,dudu pather,——remind you there are many more in kashmir.then you have ladakh and jammu which also have very beautiful places.
    so best of luck for your forth coming visit–expecting many more articles like this.cheers.

  • Thnx Huzkeel,

    I m really happy you liked it. Getting praises from a Kashmiri on a writeup on Kashmir is delighting indeed!

    I know i have lots to see and lots more to experience in Kashmir…looking forward to my trip in May, will try to add most of the places you mention.

    Will surely write about it.

    Thnx,
    mala

  • Hi do u know when is BEST time of the year to visit KAshmir, to enjoy the nature, full bloom, which mths in particular?

  • Hi Lyana,

    yes, the best time to visit Kashmir is either late September- early October, and late april. kashmir is in full bloom these months.

    Hope you have a wonderful time in one of the most extravagant and mesmerising destinations in India.

    mala

  • Amazing…Simply Marvelous! ;) Beautiful pictures! Very well written! :)

    • Thanks for the appreciations Naman :)

  • Rishi G

    Hi,

    Being there, in kashmir is one thing, bringing it here in words is wow. Very good reporting. Mesmerising pictures with vivid details. “heavenly”, “breathtaking”.

    Thanks.

    • Thanks alot Rishi G.

      Actually the beauty of the place and warmth of the people is to be praised, i simply put words to how i felt back in Kashmir. If many of us could visit the beautiful place and understand the sentiments of the people, the acrimony would disappear.

  • MUNESH MISHRA

    Hi Mala,
    Very Nice post about the Heaven on Earth (Most Beautiful Valley of Kashmir). Interesting details of the places like Shalimar & Nishat gardens, Gulmarg and Dal Lake etc.
    Like me every Ghumakkar at least once want to be there.
    Thank for sharing your experiences with attractive pictures.

    • Thanks alot Munesh ji.

      Surely you should visit Kashmir and experience the beauty first hand.

  • Usha

    Nostalgic, i visited Kashmir/Gulmarg in 1988. Kasmir – updated again in my forthcoming travel itinerary, thanks for your post with beautiful pics.

    • Thanks Usha.

      I feel Kashmir has changed since your last visit way back in 1988. Hope you have been enticed enough to visit again:)

  • Nirdesh Singh

    Hi Mala,

    Lovely to revisit this post! As the trees in Delhi erupt into colour, so did your post fill in colour to my fading memories of Kashmir visit.

    • Hi Nirdesh,

      Thanks so much for the analogy…:)