Summer in Kashmir

We don’t see what life has to offer us because we lack the vision that God has for us. Until last year I did not even think of going to Kashmir. Soon it became my vision for 2013. This July ’13 it became my reality all thanks to a good old local Kashmiri friend who lives in Srinagar. Took a direct flight from Mumbai to Srinagar which is only 2.45 hrs journey. The aerial view on landing Srinagar airport sets the mood as you can expect greenery all across. The temperature in July in Srinagar is 32 degree Celsius. I chose this month because of the familiarity with the temperature back in Mumbai. Though locals suggest to visit in the month of September & October when the scenic beauty is at its best with green turning gold. If you are keen to view the snow clad Kashmir Valleys then you could visit in winter. Whereas June-July is the best time for devotees taking Amarnath Yatra. Visit Kashmir in different seasons for different reasons.

We stayed in Srinagar the capital of J&K. When here you cannot miss the Dal Lake the second largest in the state and the traditional Shikara boat ride is a must. You could also stay in the House Boat which has rooms for accommodation again a must. Surrounding this lake are the gardens. I visited one such garden the Pari Mahal known for flora and fauna. There are eateries besides this lake. Try the mutton or chicken seekh and kababs which is served with Lavasa bread and a variety of chutneys. Adjacent to the lake is boulevard road where you could grab some traditional handicrafts Papier mache a delicate decorative art which shows the artistic zeal of a craftsman’s of Kashmir.

Shikara, Srinagar

Shikara, Srinagar


Pari Mahal, Srinagar

Pari Mahal, Srinagar

Kashmiri bags and shawls with handmade embroidery are good souvenirs. You will find these at almost all the tourist spots. So don’t hurry to purchase all at one go. Shopkeepers do not encourage haggling but cost vary at different locations. Dry fruits such as walnuts, blueberries, almonds, raisins, apricots are also good buy. You could also try seasonal fruits which comes really cheap.

Gulmarg

Gulmarg

Another water body is the Jhelum river which flows in the city and is quite a beauty. Gulmarg is a hill station which is 2.30 hrs approx journey from Srinagar. During summer the valleys are covered with greenery. It’s a picnic spot for the locals. They carry lunch from home and spend quality time with family. Whereas tourist like to take the Gondola Cable Car which has 2 phases to it. The aerial view of valleys is breathtaking. The valleys are covered with Pine trees which is under the state government. If you wish to view the snow clad valleys in summer then you must take the ride till the second phase. You can also take the pony ride to view the scenic beauty.

Gondola Ride

Gondola Ride

On the way to Gulmarg is Drang which is surrounded by mountains and a flowing stream where you can wash yourself. It is being promoted for trout fishing and rock climbing. Very peaceful.

Tanmarg is also located on the way to Gulmarg. Many locals have their homes here. I stopped by to click some pictures.

Tanmarg

Tanmarg

Sonamarg is another hill station which is 2 hrs approx journey from Srinagar. The drive up till the hill is pleasant as you cannot miss the sight of Indus river flowing. Again Sonamarg is surrounded by hills. People park their cars at the banks of Indus river and enjoy the gushing water. Since I reached during lunch I went to the restaurant nearby and had Wazwan the traditional cuisine of Kashmiris. Almost all the dishes are meat-based (lamb, chicken). You will also find punjabi dhaba on the way but don’t even waste your time there.

Sonmarg

Sonmarg

Doodhpathri is a beautiful place with carpet like meadows. You will find cattle grazing and shepherd boys. It is called the valley of milk because it produces rich milk in large quantity. I truly loved this place and also managed to click some pictures with the shepherd boy and his sheep. Check out the mud huts where the Gujjars live. Lazing around the meadows is a must.

Hut House

Hut House

Doodhapatri

Doodhapatri

My last destination was Pahalgam which is 3 hrs journey from Srinagar. I took the interior roads to reach. On the way I stopped to pluck Green Apples from the orchard. Though not sweet as the ripe Apples but never the less a good bite. You can also get the glimpse of walnuts, saffron and corn fields. Do buy roasted makai (corn) from the roadside for company. Also visited one of the most terror prone village. If you
get talking to the locals they will open up to you and even share some horror stories of militants. None you have read or heard or seen on news channels.While in Kashmir do not miss to stay in a Jammu & Kashmir Tourism maintained huts (Farmhouse). Just outside the hut was the flowing stream and across was the valley staring at us. I could not have asked for more. At night I walked down to the local market,
had saffron milk and hot gulab jamuns. When in Kashmir try their traditional teas – Namkeen Chai (Salty Tea) and Kahwa.

Pahalgam

Pahalgam

Several Bollywood films have been shot in Kashmir recent one being Jab Tak Hai Jaan. The sight of army men stationed at every nook and corner of Kashmir can be nerving. But I would suggest you to go Kashmir with an open mind and trust me you will go back for more.

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