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.

Amarnath Yatra :: Pishutop, Zajipal & Nagakoti

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These Bhandars provide tea, snacks, breakfast and hot vegetarian foods to the pilgrims, free. They camp all major places on the way to the Holy Cave to serve hot foods to the pilgrims. A holly attempt, I must say, may be the path, to their belief, to receive grace and blessings of Lord Shiva. The holy songs of Lord Shiva in the tunes of most modern bollywood songs were playing in these Bhandaras and were lifting up the spirits of pilgrims.

Pilgrims, who climbed up on foot the first steep mountain ‘Pishu Top’, were standing exhausted there. But they had an aura of achievement too, the aura of victory over the first hurdle, ‘Pishu Top’ and for some of them it was no less than the climbing and conquering of Mount Everest. They were proud pilgrims, posing for snaps before and on the stone painted with welcoming message “Swagatam Pishutop”. They deserved that too, but for us who came here on horseback, it was not a party time yet!

We set off again and it was now an easy road along the East Liddar River. Soon we left behind the beautiful Pishutop, I looked back, may be for a last sight in my life. I was enjoying every bit of this route and realized beginning of the most beautiful journey of my life.

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बालटाल से पवित्र अमरनाथ गुफ़ा : श्रध्दा व श्रम का अनोखा संयोग (भाग 3)

बालटाल से पवित्र अमरनाथ गुफ़ा : श्रध्दा व श्रम का अनोखा संयोग (भाग 3)

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हम लोग सामान्य गति से चल रहे थे लेकिन धीरे -धीरे राजू और उसके परिवार की गति कम होने लगी. शुशील उनके साथ ही चल रहा था और मैं उनसे काफी आगे निकल आया था. दोमेल से 1.5 किलोमीटर आगे रेल पथरी नामक जगह पर दो भंडारे हैं। मैं वहांरुक कर उनकी प्रतीक्षा करने लगा और बीस मिनट बाद बाद वो भी पहुँच गए। चढ़ाई चढ़ते हुए लम्बा विश्राम करने से शरीर शिथिल हो जाता है और मुझे इससे परेशानी होती है। यहाँ भी ऐसा ही हुआ और मुझे लगा की अगर ऐसा ही चलता रहा तो शायद शाम तक ही गुफा पर पहुँच पाउँगा। मैंने उनसे कहा मैं आगे जा रहा हूँ तुम थोड़ा आराम करने के बाद चल देना। अब मैं तुम्हे बरारी टॉप पर ही मिलूंगा और तुम्हारा 11 बजे तक इंतजार करूँगा। अगर आप इससे लेट पहुंचे तो समझ लेना कि मैं आगे चला गया हूँ। ऐसा कहकर मैंने दोबारा चढ़ाई शुरू कर दी।

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Amarnath Yatra – Jammu to Baltal base Camp

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जम्मू से आगे पुरे रास्ते में जगह-जगह अमरनाथ यात्रियों के लिए लंगर लगे हुए हैं। खाने-पीने की कोई समस्या नहीं। क्योंकि हम लोग नाश्ता करके नहीं आये थे और अब तक हमें काफी भूख लग गयी थी। हमने गाड़ी वाले से कहा की किसी लंगर पर गाड़ी रोक दो, नाश्ता करना है। ड्राइवर ने बटोट से थोड़ा आगे एक लंगर पर गाड़ी रोक दी। लंगर राजपुरा के पास का था। लंगर में डोसा, पानी पूरी, आइस क्रीम, कुल्फी, कोल्ड ड्रिंक, जलजीरा, दाल चावल, रोटी सब्ज़ी, पॉपकॉर्न, हलवा, खीर और गरमा गरम चाय सब कुछ मिल रहा था। जितना चाहे प्यार से खाओ पर झूठा बचाना सख्त मना है। खाओ मन भर, न छोडो कण भर। वहां ड्राइवर सहित सभी लोगों ने नाश्ता किया, गर्मागर्म चाय पी और पौने घंटे बाद ठीक 12 बजे दोबारा से यात्रा शुरू कर दी।

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अमरनाथ यात्रा 2014 (Amarnath Pilgrimage) – प्रथम भाग

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बात जुलाई 1998 की है। मैं इंजीनियरी करने के बाद बेकार था । हमारे शहर से एक बस अमरनाथ यात्रा पर जा रही थी। मेरे पिता जी उन दिनो बिमार थे और घर पर ही रहते थे। उन्होनें मुझसे कहा कि सारा दिन आवारा घुमता है, अमरनाथ यात्रा पर ही चला जा। मैं यात्रा पर जाने के लिए तैयार हो गया। आने जाने और खाने-पीने का खर्च घर से मिल रहा था तो कौन मना क रता।

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Pahalgam, in Kashmir

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Collect your entry tickets and then wander around the meadow or sit for a while, take tea, snacks or cold drink from the stalls here and enjoy misty clouds and a cool breeze. Baisaran is a lush green meadow with undulating hills and dotted with tall pine and deodar trees all around. It presents a picturesque view of the snow clad mountain on the backdrops.
You slowly start relating all bollywood songs, especially 1960’s, 70’s and even of early 80’s, which were shot here with both male and female protagonist running towards each other from opposite side, ended in holding each other’s hands and singing some great songs.

Special guests are here too who will fill your photographic hobby and the very little cute rabbit will come at Rs.10/- for as many snaps as you can take within a limited time. Horses are at free of cost for photo shoot.

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Bringing Back Some Hues from the Beautiful Valley Of Kashmir

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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!

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Ladakh Calling… (Part 6) Leh – Sarchu (260 Kms)

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From “Zing Zing Bar” it was more a downhill journey & our bulls were easily cruising through. By the time we reached “Darcha” it was 12:00 Hrs. We had a cup of tea with hot maggi & pushed of quickly. It started becoming cold with moderate rain. “Keylong” was just 8 kms away when it started raining heavily. We took a halt under a tree shade & after few minutes of (SuGa) break we resumed our journey. It was 14:00 Hrs when we reached “Keylong” & managed to get a decent room on the road side & parked our bikes just in front of our room.

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Pahalgam, the real beauty of Kashmir

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Next morning, had early break fast and went out to look for ponies as we shall explore Pahelgam on horseback. After some bargaining with the local pony owners we decided to visit Baisaran, Dabian, Kashmir valley & Pahelgam valley.We hired 3 ponies, one each for us and started off at a gentle pace. The pony attendants walked beside us guiding the animals. These places are some of the most beautiful locales in Pahelgam but can be explored only on horseback. So aged people and those who are not capable to ride ponies will be deprived from such scenic places. we moved on through the hilly trails and reached Pahelgam valley, a point from where the city can be viewed. Then we moved across streams, hilly terrain, boulders and reached a vast grassland called Baisaran or mini Switzerland.

The lush green grasslands, lined with pine trees and mountains beyond, were a treat for the eyes.After running around for some time we mounted on our ponies again and started moving down the slope of the mountains through the pine forest. By this time we had learnt to control the ponies with the reins. My son particularly was very excited. It was really an amazing experience. Next we arrived at Dabian.

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Drive to Manali from Leh

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The road upto Upshi was good and at par the Highway, a route from here diverts towards left for Pangong Lake. Hereafter, the character of the terrain starts changing and the road is gradually treacherous and rigorous with sudden steep ups and sharp curves. The little above 100 km journey was a mixture of adventure, peril, test of driving skill and curiosity. We were now at the world’s 2nd highest motorable road at Taglang La at an altitude of 17582 feet. The air here was so rare that we were feeling the scarcity of oxygen despite acclimatizing since last few days. The mountain peaks were on parallel to us and the sight of snow covered mountainous stretches around us was spellbinding. A board on which written, “Enjoy Tea/Coffee at 2nd Highest Motorable Pass” by courtesy of the BRO was very satisfying and proud moment. Multi coloured prayer flags flurrying in air tied around a tiny roundabout on the small flat top plateau at the stopover seemed blessing all of us for reaching there. A triumphant feeling brought tears in my eyes out of immense ecstasy, reaching upto there was never easy and I longed for years with intensity for this moment. Though I wanted to stay longer at this impossible site but it is not at all advisable, due to prone to AMS. With immense joy and satisfaction, we started descending gradually on the journey to confront the onward adverse challenges.

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Drive to Leh from Sonmarg

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Suddenly we came under the shades of very gigantic mountains on both sides of the road with a river with very dull and grey colored water full of silt, flowing along side. It was shadowy because the cliffs of the sand stone mountains hanging on the roof allowing little light to penetrate and the road turning in sharp curves. The sight was so delightful and panoramic that I don’t have words to describe it neither my photographs can do the job. You need to be there to experience the nature’s charisma. A triumphant feeling of almost reaching the dream destination highlighted our joy to a greater extent. Engulfed in excitement and ecstasy we continued keep rolling. It was an unforgettable moment to see the sun setting behind the gigantic sand stone structural mountains with figures appearing on them like shades of brush strokes creating abstract impressions on the nature’s canvass, opulently defining the gracefulness of creativity through visual delight. Lost in the illusionary of vision and spellbound with the bounty of natural wealth, we in fact reached our “dream come true” destination. A toll of Rs. 100/- is levied for entering the city and thus we were through. Yes, it was almost dark and I lit the head lights of my car, with a usual bowing head and prayer on lighting the car’s head lights, practiced by every Indian driver, I guess. Simultaneously, I thanked God for the safe journey so far. We were in Leh, a city that surprised me with its beautiful modern amenities as good as in any big city in the country.

Street lights, one way road, traffic signals with excellent traffic system, sufficiently crowded matching any urban development with multi branded showrooms, big shops, automobile dealers, service stations, parks, roundabouts and what not. I was very shy and sorry about my skepticisms by underestimating it. Leh is the second largest district in terms of area after Kutch in Gujrat, in the country with an area of over 45,000 sq. km at an altitude of 3525 meters however, very scarcely populated inhabiting around 35,000 – 40,000 only. Leh experiences a cold and harsh winter from October to early March with minimum temperatures well below freezing point with occasional snowfalls. The weather in the remaining months is generally fine and warm during the day with cool to cold nights. The temperature ranges from −30 °C in winter to 30 °C in summer. A weather chart compiled from authentic sources will well illuminate the factual.

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Road Trip to Amarnath – Part 3

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The last two kilometer of the journey is by trekking steeply down from a mountain top. The charismatic FIRST view of the magnificent holy cave steals away all wary and wears and tears at once gasping you spellbound and numb for sometime. I could have died of awe viewing the magnitude of the gigantic and colossal natural structure of the holy cave. I remained stand still for few minutes capturing the astonishing view into my mind through all my senses so that I can never miss the view ever in my life. No technology or camera in the world ever invented to present the picture as it looks through your nature’s gifted naked eyes. Now I understood, why people risk lives every year to visit and pay obeisance to it. Slowly I walked closer to the shrine with my eyes stuck to it. The way to the shrine is along side of river Amravati with temporary shops and tents with colorful insulated sheets as in Baltal. The path was through frozen glacier and the tents were erected on blocks of ice, sized in rectangles. An insulated sheet covering the base of the ice and some blankets and cotton mattresses over it is the bed for sleeping inside the tent. Once you touch the bed, it seems to be cold and wet though not exactly wet but feels the same due to extreme cold.

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