Jammu and Kashmir

The beautiful mountainous landscape of Kashmir valley, numerous shrines of Jammu and the remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture of Ladakh, justify the exclamation of Emperor Jahangir, “If there is ever a heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.”
The northernmost state of India is home to many beautiful valleys such as the Kashmir Valley, Tawi Valley, Chenab Valley, Poonch Valley, Sindh Valley and Lidder Valley. Srinagar is the summer capital and Jammu the winter capital of the state. The official language is Urdu, while the main spoken languages are Kashmiri in Kashmir Valley, Dogri in Jammu and Ladakhi in Ladakh. Most people speak at least a little Hindi.
One can arrive here by air to Srinagar and Leh or board a train till Jammu or Udhampur. By road entry is via Jammu upto Srinagar and via Manali upto Leh.
Kashmir Valley is a land of beautiful gardens like Shalimar and Nishant gardens, vast lakes like Dal Lake and Manasbal Lake, pristine streams and friendly people. Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Patnitop are hill stations offering enchanting view of Snow Mountains. Raghunath Temple, Bahu Fort, Mubarak Mandi Palace, Peer Baba, Vaishno Devi, Pari Mahal, Hari Parbat Shankaracharya Temple, Amarnath, Bhimgarh Fort and Ramnagar fort are some of the pilgrimage and historical sites.
Leh, the capital of Ladakh is famous for monasteries. Zanskar Trek is a great adventure tourism destination. Nubra Valley, Lake Moriri and Pangong Lake offer truly amazing landscapes high up in the Himalayas.

My Experience of Vaishno Devi, Ardhkumari Gufa and Shivkhori

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Just opposite to “Bhaint Shop”, there is cloak room 1. This is less crowded but a little far from bhawan. Due to less crowd, we preferred that and deposited all our luggage, belt and shoes in that cloak room. Would like to remind, you will need to show your yatra slip over here to obtain cloak room. Another 2 cloak rooms (2 and 3) are near bhawan but are overcrowded. There is not much distance between cloak room 1 and 2 & 3.

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माता वैष्णो देवी की यात्रा – मैया रानी का प्यार मुझे भी मिला अबकी बार

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लगभग दो घंटो की प्रतीक्षा के बाद अंततः वो समय आ ही गया जब मे माता जी किी पिंडियो के दर्शन करने हेतु पवित्र गुफा मे प्रवेश कर रहा था. गुफा की दीवारों से रिस्ता हुआ प्राकृतिक जल जब आपके शरीर पर पड़ता है तो मानो अंतर-आत्मा तक को भीगा डालता है और जिस सच की अनुभुउति होती है वह तो अतुलनीया है. धीरे-2 मैं माता किी पिंडियो तक भी पहुँच गया जिनके दर्शन करते ही नेत्रो मे सुकुउन और मन को आराम मिल जाता है. ऐसी अदभुत शक्ति का आचमन मात्रा ही कुछ पलों के लिए हमारे मन से ईर्ष्या, राग और द्वेष जैसे दोषो को समाप्त कर देता है और बदन एक उन्मुक्त पंछी की भाँति सुख के खुले आकाश मे हृदय रूपी पंख फैलाकर हर उस अनुभूति का स्वागत करने लगता है जिसकी हमने कभी कल्पना भी नही की थी. मुझे स्वयं भी यह आभास हो रहा था की पवित्र गुफा के प्रवेश द्वार पर मेरा चंचल चित्त कहीं पीछे ही छूट चुका है और निकास मार्ग तक पहुँचते-2 वो अब काफ़ी शांत व गंभीर हो गया है, लगता है मानो कुछ पा लिया हो.

माता जी के दर्शानो के उपरांत समीप ही स्थित शिव गुफा मे भी मत्था टेकने और पवित्र गुफा मे बहते अमृत जल का आचमन करने के बाद मैं बहुत देर तक माता के भवन को निहारता ही रहा और इसकी सुंदरता भी देखते ही बनती थी, शायद नवरात्रि के उपलक्षय मे इसे विशेष रूप से सजाया गया था. यह वो पल थे जब मैने स्वयं को उस गूगे के समान्तर पाया जो मीठे फल का आनंद तो ले सकता है किंतु चाहकर भी उसका व्याख्यान नही कर सकता.

तत्पश्चात मैने समीप ही स्थित सागर रत्ना मे रात्रि का डिन्नर करने के पश्चात एक दूसरे ढाबे से सुजी का हलवा लिया और एक खुले स्थान पर जाकर माता के भवन की तरफ मुख करके खड़ा हो उसे खाने लगा. यहाँ यह ज़रूर बता देना चाहूँगा की मात्र रु 20 का यह हलवा कम से कम रु 250 के भोजन से स्वादिष्ट था जो मैने सागर रत्ना मे खाया था. इस वक्त तक शाम पूरी तरह से घिर आई थी और तेज सर्द हवाओं का दौर शुरू हो चुका था. माता जी का भवन जग-मग रोशनी मे नहा रहा था और मेरा मन उन तेज हवाओं मे भी यहीं टीके रहने को आतुर था और यहाँ खड़े-2 मे जल्दी ही एक डोना गर्मागर्म हलवा और एक कप कॉफी हजम कर चुका था.

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Paradise on Earth- Part 4

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Pahalgam turned out to be very beautiful too, with the roaring Lidder and the rocky snow clad mountains complimenting each other. After finishing our breakfast, we headed for our first destination, Betaab Valley. It is so called as it was once the location for the filming of the film, “Betaab”. It was also the background in many scenes from the Ranbir Kapoor starrer, Rockstar. To reach the valley, a detour has to be taken from the road leading to Chandenwadi. It is located beside a much calmer portion of the Lidder, and with its artificially planted forest, does give the feel of being in the UK. Although Betaab valley is slightly commercialized, it has a very calming effect on the nerves.

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Motorcycle Diaries. Road to Ladakh…Leh – the land of monasteries…

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First thing first – True’s care! Our RE Team Leader Aakash had announced last evening that the bikes should get serviced, if needed, early on this day. True was cruising all fine and needed no service. However, eight days of grime, dirt and dips in water forced True to take a bath! So, I initiated the hunt for a bike/car wash center nearby. However, it being Sunday, Leh was largely shut and I had to drive 8kms on Manali Highway, all the way to the hamlet of Chogalmasar Jamba, where across the bridge exists an old acquaintance’s garage; a person whom was meeting after good six years! But, just like all other people from the hills, he was extremely warm and forthcoming. So, True was given special preference in queue.

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Top reasons to visit Kashmir

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Other Other famous cuisines include: Kahwah (GreenTea) and Noon Chai. Kashmiris are heavy tea drinkers. Over 20 varieties of Kahwah are prepared in different households. One must taste the unheard “Kamal Kakri ke Pakore” near Nishat Gardens in Srinagar. Kashmir offers a vast variety of Kebabs. Non-Vegetarians must enjoy the mouth watering Chiken,Kebabs etc. But then, Nothing can beat the very own Lucknawi Kebabs! (Seriously),

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Leh – Pangong – Srinagar

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The unbelievable part of this road trip was to be driving at 120kmph at 16000 feet above sea level at More plains. You just could see the road laid in front till the eyes could see. After this there’s a steep climb to Tanglang-La at 17,500 feet where I started feeling dizzy again. Susheel said lets take 30 mins rest here at the Pass and I had to tell him like a crazy panicking person that we need to rush down to feel better. Also it’s here I discovered Susheel wasn’t driving in the wrong lane due to bad driving habit learnt in the cities but deliberately to avoid the (view of the) steep fall on the valleys side, I was splitting my sides laughing and offered to drive but he wouldn’t let me, saying I was a crazy driver to be driving on that side and he didn’t want to die. Hahaha, still makes me go when I remember how we met unsuspecting drivers from the other direction in their rightful lanes honking at us. But we did have a taxi following us in the wrong lane and driving equally slow refusing to overtake. If you saw the views from Tanglang-La  you could perhaps be forgiven to be driving like that. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any good pictures as he didn’t want to stop and catch an accidental glimpse of the abyss.

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Pangong Lake – Travelers’ Delight!

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The last leg of our journey to the mystical and majestic Ladakh was ‘Pangong Tso’! In local language Lake is called Tso. Pangong Lake falls in the disputed territory with China. So the whole lake does not belong to India. While China occupies two-third part of this magnificent high altitude lake, India remains satisfied with mere one-third part of it.

These days the Lake is a favourite tourist place among the domestic tourists much credit for which goes to the bollywood movie ‘3idiots’! …….

How incredible it was to see the tranquil lake and its azure blue waters! Pangong Tso is one of the largest saline lakes in Asia. On the Lake shore we walked and saw the effects of changing colours of the lake, aqua green to indigo blue! The saline water of the lake plays with the sunlight and produces different colours. We were told that during winter the lake freezes and become a solid surface to walk over it. Well, walking over a frozen lake! You need to check certainly the best season to visit there!

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Sand Dunes of Nubra and Diskit Monastery

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Usually deserts occur in low altitude, such as the great Indian Thar Desert. But there is also one high altitude cold desert in India which occurs in the Hunder village of Nubra Valley…………..We arrived there. It was beyond our imaginations and dreams to see such a vast bed of silver sands with brown mountains at the backdrop…………The sand dune offers to its visitors the great Central Asian double-humped camel safari. While other visitors were busy in getting their turn first for the safari, I went close to the camels. They look the same normal camels except those two humps. For the first time I saw those camels.

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Road to Nubra Valley over Khardung La

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We were told that weather is very unpredictable and highly unstable and can change surprisingly fast at Khardung La.  It may leave travelers trapped for hours or even days, but nothing like that happened to us, except heavy downpour on our way back on the following day.

We started descending from Khardung La. By now ‘Rahman’, the driver of our car became familiar with me. As I pointed the camera, he stopped the car. I came out to click. A small lake surrounded by the mountains just below the Khardung La looked so beautiful.

We set off again. Soon we passed the village Khardung. It is a tiny green village surrounded by barren mountains.  A drive of another 40 minutes or so and we met the river Shyok, a tributary of river Indus. The water of river Shyok looked muddy. Our journey continued by the bank of river Shyok.

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Thiksey and Hemis Monastery and The School of 3 idiots!

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The great Indian Films! They make places a popular tourist spot out of nowhere!! Amir Khan Starrer “3 idiots” is one of such Indian Boolywood movie. Some parts of the film were shot at Pangaong Lake, Ladakh and some in a school near Leh named “The Druk White Lotus School”. The school is located 15 km from Leh town on the Leh-Manali highway in the village Shey. This school made a popular tourist spot after the movie and damage of its building by cloudburst that struck Leh on August 2010. The actor Amir Khan visited the school after the incident and helped to raise funds for rebuilding of the school.

After the movie, the school receives a large number of visitor everyday and a person has been deployed by the school management for guiding the visitors. It has a visitor centre from where you need to take permission and the visiting time is 8AM to 1PM and 2PM to PM.

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