Srinagar

Visit Srinagar in spring and you would be very much inclined to believe that heaven indeed exists on earth. Millions of flowers bloom in spring infusing the valley with their vibrant colours and fragrance along with rain showers that add to a divine experience. Situated at the heart of Kashmir, the valley wraps a shawl of different hues for every season. The city of Srinagar lies on both the banks of the River Jhelum with many bridges connecting them.
Srinagar is the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The city is enchanting in every season and it has more in store for visitors. The serene beauty of Dal Lake and Nagin Lake are well known as are the famous Houseboats on Dal Lake. Mughal Gardens, Chashma Shahi (the royal fountains), Pari Mahal (the palace of the fairies), Nishat Bagh (the garden of spring), Shalimar Bagh are a feast for the eyes. Some of the holy places in Srinagar are Hazratbal Shrine, Jama Masjid, Hamza Makhdum, Kheer bhawani, Sarika Mata temple and Shankaracharya temple.
Srinagar is connected by National highways and has an international airport. Many picturesque valleys and adventure tourism sites are also accessible from the city.
Best time to visit: March to September
Languages spoken: Kashmiri
Climate: Rainy spring season, pleasant summers and very cold winters with snowfall
Natural Wonders: Dal Lake, Nagin Lake, Mughal Gardens, Shalimar Bagh
Holy Places: Hazratbal Shrine, Jama Masjid, Hamza Makhdum, Kheer bhawani, Sarika Mata temple, Shankaracharya temple
Places of Interest: Chashma Shahi, Pari Mahal

Jai Jai Shiv Shankar… Meri Kashmir Yatra (Part 8)

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We can say , a pocket size dynamite that engulfed the visitors with its charm. The garden shows the same Mughal feeling as the bigger gardens around the lake. The spring around which this garden is built bumbles up in a large stone vase that hovers up in a hall like structure and this is specialty of this garden.

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THANDI HAWAYEN LEHRA KE AYYEN… Meri Kashmir Yatra Part 7

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Mr. Bhajji was clever enough to place the vehicle among the local vehicles and we crossed the vehicle only to find a toll office on the left side where a person was noting the number of the vehicle. If it was the local vehicle , those were allowed without paying any tax. If the registration number was outside state and not a tourist vehicle registered in Jammu and Kashmir then tax was levied. So folks no option but to pay that tax to reach the main snow point.

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Disappointing ‘Wular’ – The largest fresh water lake in Asia

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Each year during Amarnath Yatra we try to cover one new place of Kashmir excluding Srinagar. By this method we have covered Aru Valley, Betab Valley, Lidder valley, Pahalgam, Anant Nag, Avantipura, Verinag spring ( the chief source of the river Jhelum) Sonamarg, Gulmarg,  Mansabal lake etc. During 2009 Amarnath Yatra, we had planned to visit Wular Lake. After Darshan we started returned journey from Baltal towards Srinagar early in the morning.

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Yeh Dekh Ke Dil Jhooma… Meri Kashmir Yatra (Part 5)

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This exactly is not a tourist area but one gets to see the actual life of the people away from the gritty nitty of tourism. Common people full of common aspirations wearing tired and sullen faces (a result of not so good economic condition) dominates the scene. Shikara wallah then brings you to Meena market, a group of 4-5 showrooms selling Shawls and other woolen stuffs, carpets, Sarees and all. One argues with them that we do not want to buy anything but the common refrain is EK BAAR DEKH TO LIJIYE…

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Another view of the tree at the complex

Taarif Karoon Kya Uss Kee… Meri Kashmir Yatra (Part 4)

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After about one and a half hour we were in front of the temple. We had been questioned 2-3 times on the way by paramilitary forces as they thought that we were proceeding towards Sri Amarnath Yatra unofficially as the Yatra had not started till then. As we had no plan as such, it was duly told to them.

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Boomro Boomro, Shyam Rang Boomro… (Meri Kashmir Yatra – Part 3)

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The scene was just marvelous and my thought was …. YE KAHAN AA GAYE HUM….. We see pictures of the lake in the news papers or sometimes in television but can not gauge the extent of this lake from those visuals, this is what I think as the mighty DAL which was in front of me had rows and rows of houseboats parked in it . THE HOUSEBOATS WITH EXOTIC NAMES APPEARED TO BE LIFELINE OF THIS LAKE. (Char Chinar, Dreamland, Kashmiri beauty, Gulistan, Gul Gulshan Gulfam and numerous other names ….).

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Here I come

Aadmi Musafir Hai (part 2)

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Remember the song “AADMI MUSAFIR HAI AATA HAI JAATA HAI” from movie Apnapan picturized on Sudhir Dalvi and that unknown girl in the bus en-route to Srinagar. The verses contain a philosophical message but in the language of common man which was forte of Anand Bakshi Sahib. As our vehicle moved towards Srinagar it seemed to me that a dream shall be chased in a few hours but the destination was quite far away.

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Sarchhu to Leh, Pangong Lake, and Back via Kashmir

Sarchhu to Leh, Pangong Lake, and Back via Kashmir

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First town where some civilization could be seen was Upshi which is basically a check post where we did not stop. Next stop at about 30 km was Karu which basically a military establishment just before Leh. We stopped a Karu for a late lunch and some tea and then soon proceeded to Leh which took about 1-1.5 hours. On the way to Leh one can see gorgeous mountain views with Indus flowing along the road.

Next, day we went to places around Leh such as Patthar Singh Sahab Gurudwara (पत्थर सिंह साहिब गुरुद्वारा), so called Magnetic Hill, Confluence of Janskar and Indus rivers, a Kali temple and a Buddhist temple, and one of the oldest monastery near Leh. The landscape near Leh is also dry, barren but mesmerizingly beautiful. Buddhist temple have special wheels called Maney ( माने) carrying the holy mantra “Om Many Padme hum” or “ओम माणी पद्मे हूं”  which the devotees rotate.

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आ पहुंचे हम श्रीनगर – कश्मीर

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इस सड़क की एक और विशेषता यह है कि उस सड़क पर पर्यटकों की भरमार होने के कारण स्कूटर, मोटर साइकिल, हाथ ठेली पर ऊनी वस्त्र बेचने वाले हर रोज़ सुबह-शाम भरपूर मात्रा में दिखाई देते हैं।  रात को हम खाना खा कर लौटे तो भी वहां बहुत भीड़ लगी थी और सुबह आठ बजे तक वहां ऐसे दुकानदारों का अंबार लग चुका था।  कुछ स्कूल भी आस-पास रहे होंगे क्योंकि छोटे-छोटे, प्यारे – प्यारे, दूधिया रंग के कश्मीरी बच्चे भी स्कूली वेषभूषा में आते-जाते मिले। कुछ छोटे बच्चों को जबरदस्ती घसीट कर स्कूल ले जाया जाता अनुभव हो रहा था तो कुछ अपनी इच्छा से जा रहे थे। भारतीय सेना की एक पूरी बटालियन वहां स्थाई कैंप बनाये हुए थी। हमारे होटल के बिल्कुल सामने सड़क के उस पार सेना के सशस्त्र जवान केबिन बना कर उसमें पहरा दे रहे थे। मुझे आश्चर्य हो रहा था कि यहां तो बिल्कुल शान्ति है फिर इतनी सतर्कता की क्या जरूरत है? पर जैसा कि एक सेना के अधिकारी ने मुझे अगली सुबह गप-शप करते हुए बताया कि यहां शांति इसीलिये है क्योंकि हर समय सेना तैयार है।  अगर हम गफलत कर जायें तो कब कहां से हिंसा वारदात शुरु हो  जाये, कुछ नहीं कहा जा सकता।   दो दिन बाद, 18 मार्च को हिन्दुस्तान और पाकिस्तान के बीच में एक दिवसीय क्रिकेट मैच था ।  हमारा ड्राइवर प्रीतम प्यारे गुलमर्ग से लौटते समय बहुत तनाव में था क्योंकि दोपहर तक पाकिस्तान का पलड़ा भारी नज़र आ रहा था।  वह बोला कि अगर पाकिस्तान मैच जीत गया तो शाम होते – होते कश्मीर की स्थिति विस्फोटक हो जायेगी । 

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जम्मू से श्रीनगर राजमार्ग पर एक अविस्मरणीय यात्रा

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ऐसे ही एक विलक्षण और ऐतिहासिक ट्रैफिक जाम में पंकज और मैं कार से उतरे और काफी आगे तक जाकर जायज़ा लिया कि करीब कितने किलोमीटर लंबा जाम है। यातायात पुलिस के सिपाहियों को जाम खुलवाने के कुछ गुरुमंत्र भी दिये क्योंकि सहारनपुर वाले भी जाम लगाने के विशेषज्ञ माने जाते हैं। हम अपनी कार से लगभग १ किलोमीटर आगे पहुंच चुके थे जहां गाड़ियां फंसी खड़ी थीं और जाम का कारण बनी हुई थीं। आगे-पीछे कर – कर के उन तीनों गाड़ियों को इस स्थिति में लाया गया कि शेष गाड़ियां निकल सकें। वाहन धीरे – धीरे आगे सरकने लगे और हम अपनी टैक्सी की इंतज़ार में वहीं खड़े हो गये। सैंकड़ों गाड़ियों के बाद कहीं जाकर हमें अपनी सफेद फोर्ड आती दिखाई दी वरना हमें तो यह शक होने लगा था कि कहीं बिना हमें लिये ही गाड़ी आगे न चली गई हो। ड्राइवर ने गाड़ी धीमी की और हमें इशारा किया कि हम फटाफट बैठ जायें क्योंकि गाड़ी रोकी नहीं जा सकती। जैसे धोबी उचक कर गधे पर बैठता है, हम कार के दरवाज़े खोल कर उचक कर अपनी अपनी सीटों पर विराजमान हो गये। पांच सात मिनट में ही पंकज का दर्द में डूबा हुआ स्वर उभरा! “मैं तो लुट गया, बरबाद हो गया।“ मुझे बड़ा आश्चर्य हुआ क्योंकि पंकज एक मिनट के लिये भी मेरी दृष्टि से ओझल नहीं हुआ था तो फिर ऐसा क्या हुआ कि वह लुट भी गया और मुझे खबर तक न हुई। रास्ते में ऐसा कोई सुदर्शन चेहरा भी नज़र नहीं आया था, जिसे देख कर पंकज पर इस प्रकार की प्रतिक्रिया होती। गर्दन घुमा कर पीछे देखा तो पंकज भाई आंखों में ढेर सारा दर्द लिये शून्य में ताक रहे थे। उनकी पत्नी चीनू ने कुरेदा कि क्या होगया, बताइये तो सही तो बोला,

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