Kitni Khubsurat Yeh Tasveer hai…. (part 1)

Pavani and her Mummy on the way

Pavani and her Mummy on the way

So folks back again to apprise all of you about my yatra to the paradise on earth which I undertook before my Udaipur yatra but wanted to share with you nevertheless. Kashmir…. the name itself brings goose bumps.  Kashmir… the name itself brings the beauty personified.  Kashmir……. the name itself brings out romantic vistas. Kashmir…… the name itself brings unfulfilled desire.

When I  decided to visit the place in the summer of 2011, I  encountered a lot of brickbats for the reason very familiar to us , the land considered to be unsafe but a few persons patted our backs for the decision. For me it was do and do decision come what may so it was decided to go to Srinagar and other adjoining parts by road from Jalandhar. Before I come to the main travelogue part, in this firs chapter I  would like to give a glimpse of history and historical perspective of the land.

Beautiful scenario on the way

Beautiful scenario on the way

The majestic hills calling us

The majestic hills calling us

KASHMIR: A GLIMPSE OF HISTORY: Today the land beautiful has come to identify itself as populated mainly by our Muslim brethren. Historically it is a very late phenomenon as ancient Kashmir boasted of a great Sufi tradition with Sufi saints like Lal Ded and Rishi Nooruddin had blessed this land  Before that a strong Saivaite tradition was followed culturally in Kashmir. The capital Srinagar is said to be established by the Mauryan emperor, Asoka. First written evidence in sanskrit, Rajatarangini is also about the history of Kashmir written by Kalhana. A strong Buddhist tradition was also present in the ancient times and holding of one of the four Buddhist assemblies in Srinagar is proof of that. Avantipora ruins point out towards alive composite culture in ancient times. It was not until 13th century that the state came under Muslim rule and first Muslim ruler founded Swati dynasty then Shahmii dynasty before Mughals ruled the territory before the state fell to Sikhs in the nineteenth century under Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and ultimately Dogra rulers ruled the state before its accession to India. From the nineteenth century onward Kashmiri Pandits formed a sizeable population and well imbibed in the culture of Kashmir. Kul mila ke kaha jaye to Kashmir represented a tehzeeb unparalleled in the world culture,,music, beauty, ambience, sab kuchh.

First glimpse of snow

First glimpse of snow


Tujhe bulayen yeh vaadiyaan

Tujhe bulayen yeh vaadiyaan


KASHMIR (then)–Pre 1990: Ek Musafir Ek Hasina, Kashmir Ki Kali, Dard, Kabhi Kabhi, Asha, Apnapan, Aandhi and many more such Hindi movies kindled my love for the beauty of Kashmir. The visuals put forward by these movies and the songs hummed by the lead actors on the screen were my first guide to this land in Doordarshan days. Pre 1990 Kashmir especially 1970s and 80s saw this beautiful land at its peak and the valley was full of tourists during this era as noted. Songs picturised in the valley just created a stir and one tended to get confused if the directors were picturising the beauty of Kashmir or the lead Heroine.

Shayad Shakti Samanta, Yash Chopra, J.Om prakash were so mesmerized by Kashmir. Kashmir , kitna door lagta tha, sapne jaisa. Question of Neetu Singh ji was right in kabhi kabhi when she  tells Rishi Ji to watch the Nazare, lilting background music and camera zooming on snow all around. But may be Rishi ji wanted to say (tere chehre se nazar nahin hatti…). but I got mesmerized by the scenario. Taarif karoon kya uski jisne….. would not ave been so eye catching without the Dal Lake. Numerous such examples and the land was a real paradise on earth inhabited by the luckiest ones, we all thought for whom it was in accessible.

KASHMIR (now)… post 1990: Though the land remained the same, the atmosphere changed. ….. Though the land remained same, no more ace directors came calling to Kashmir…. Though the land remained same, missing was that Sufi tradition. What happened to this land of love was beyond my imagination as I grew up and joined the job. I don’t want to dwell upon the reasons, politically, culturally  economically or whatsoever but it pained to see such Kashmir, the paradise. A storm came and blew up some of the finer points of this land. The situation changed , exodus of persons belonging to one community took place which disturbed the TAANABAANA to some extent.

But the land witnessed again a change and tourists started flowing to Kashmir from 2003 onwards in a decent number though the foreign tourists were still missing. The change was for positive. I also hoped that land should attain normalcy sooner or later not for only law and order but for the piece that this is the only land in India to be represented by great traditions at different times and that is the unique feature of this beautiful state.

The lure of Kashmir was too much for me and I could not keep it aside and finally decided to visit the state in the summer of 2011. A casual chat with wife’s cousin staying at Batala (Punjab) ensued  a partner in this travel, he and his family. In the next post I shall dwell upon the travel part from Jalandhar to Lake Mansar and then to Udhampur on the way to the valley.

KASHMIRI CUISINE: Though the Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim traditions had an impact on traditional cuisine of Kashmir, WAZWAN is the traditional naticve cuisine of Kashmir. It is regarded by Kashmiri Muslims as the core of Kashmiri tradition and culture consisting mainly of: Safed Kokur, Seekh Kabab, Rogan Josh, Rishtae, Aloo Bukhar, TabakMaaz and many more such dishes.

STATE BIRD OF JAMMU and KASHMIR: Black necked Crane, a medium size bird found mainly in hilly parts of Asia, the bird is most revered in Bhutan. 

STATE ANIMAL OF JAMMU and KASHMIR: Hangul, is a sub species of Red Deer found in India and has been placed under endangered species bu IUCN.(

STATE FLOWER OF JAMMU and KASHMIR: Lotus is the state flower of the state which incidentally is national flower of India. A nice co-incidence which brings forward the nationalistic fervor of the natives.

“I searched for myself

until I grew weary,

But no one, I know now,

reaches the hidden knowledge

by means of effort.

Then absorbed in “Thou art this”

I found the pace of wine.

There all the jars are filled,

but no one is left to drink.

(poetry by Lal Ded)

So folks, let’s start the trip now.

I got a call from Mr. Harbhajan Singh that he was waiting for me at a petrol pump near my house. I told him to just wait for 5 minutes and I would be there. A young man in his 20’s was waiting for me along side a Toyota Qualis which was to be our conveyance in this trip for the next few days. Mr. Harbhajan Singh alias Bhajji was to be the driver of this vehicle on our sojourn to Kashmir. Within 5 minutes we were at our home and he helped me with the luggage. So here started our journey towards the land we had cherished in our dreams a lot. My first instruction to him was to go via Batala ( a town in distt. Gurdaspur and 76 km from Jalandhar, purpose was to pick the family of wife’s cousin who was accompanying us in this trip. The short trip to Batala was uneventful. Reached there and had breakfast at Vishal’s house. (Vishal- cousin of Savita, my wife.). At about 9.30 we were ready for our journey towards Jammu and Kashmir. Weather was quite hot and all were talking about Srinagar and other adjoining places. We crossed Pathankot in about 2 hours from Batala and a small distance from there was Lakhanpur barrier where the boundary of Punjab ends and Jammu and Kashmir starts. Just before the main barrier our vehicle was stopped by some police officials on the pretext of checking and found that the vehicle was not a proper Taxi but a private vehicle plying on the road to avoid taxes and to be true, this happens.

Another view from the roadside

Another view from the roadside

Lakhanpur barrier is famous for its moong dal ke khatte wale laddu. All of us were waiting for this opportunity and relished these laddus along with nimbu lemon(another desi soft drink). At the toll barrier many hawkers were lined up selling fresh and sweet mulberry. As we get very less opportunity in urban areas to relish this fruit we all enjoyed the sweet taste of mulberries especially the kids in the group. I  knew beforehand that it was not necessary to enter the valley through Jammu. A way existed at Samba. Samba town is an industrial belt of the state of  Jammu and Kashmir which is on the way to Jammu. A right turn from this town straightaway takes you to Udhampur and as an extra pleasure one gets to stop at Lake Mansar, a famous picnic spot of the area. Lake was about at one hour distance from Samba.

About the lake Mansar in the next post……….


  • Amitava Chatterjee says:

    A very nice beginning indeed, Prof.

    The land of everyone’s dream…our own Kashmir, we all are mesmerized through numerous cinemas as we grew up in ’90s and and yes, the list is endless; everyone has their own personal favourite, like I love the song from Jab Jab Phool Khile whenever I think of Kashmir from the film Jab Jab Phool Khile…”Ek tha gul aur ek thi bulbul dono chaman mein rehte thay / hai ye kahani bilkul sachchi, mere nana kehte thay”

    then in 1991, the serial in Doordarshan “Gul Gulshan Gulfaam” and Kashmir became a permanent place in our heart (those good old days of Indian television…may be that period was better).

    What happened to this land of love was beyond our imagination and it really pained to see such Kashmir, the paradise on Earth.

    Look forward to your series eagerly.

    • Rakesh Bawa says:

      Amitava Ji, Thanks for the motivating comment. Reaaly I forgot to mention about Jab Jab Phool Khile, the movie which catapulted Shashi Kapoor to stardom with melodious songs. Yaad hai, Pardesiyon se na Akhiyan milana and other lilting songs. Rightly said that what has happened is beyond our imagination. Let the finer senses prevail.

  • Very informative post , looking forward for the coming posts on Kashmir .

    • Rakesh Bawa says:

      Mahesh Ji, Namaskar.
      Thanks for appreciating the post. next posts will be coming in due course of time with the motivation of all members of Ghumakkar family.

  • parveen kr says:

    dhamakedaar starting.

  • ashok sharma says:

    good post with a little of history as could have been better.

  • Harish Bhatt says:

    Indeed a great start to a great journey to the paradise on earth. Bringing normalcy to the valley is to some extent responsibility of ghumakkars like us also, for who the rewards of the journeys are far more than the fears

    • Rakesh Bawa says:

      Harish Ji, Thanks for liking the post. It indeed is paradise on earth. kehte hain na

      Khata Lamhon ne ki, Sazaa Sadiyon ne paayi. Bas mere dost ……….

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Rakeshji,

    Thanks for rekindling old memories of Kashmir.

    Things are lot better now and it will again turn into a paradise soon.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Glad to see you Bawaji and this time a log on ‘Paradise on Earth’. Very well observed and I am sure things are gonna get better with time.

    Regarding the Moong ke daal ke laddu and lemon-drink, it is so surprising that in Kumaon, there is a very big temple called ‘Kainchi Dham’ (it is said that even Steve Jobs of Apple fame spent time here and so on) and right there one can find so many shops selling Shikanji and moong ke daal waale pakode :-)

    Looking forward to next part. Ye Kashmir hai, Ye Kashmire hai.

    • Rakesh Bawa says:

      Nandan Ji, Namaskar.
      So captain of the ship, thanks for your motivating comments and sharing that information of Kainchi Dham . Frankly I have not been to that part of India. Kashmir is a great place to visit and the land boasts of innocent people just like other parts of India.

  • Thank you Bawaji for sharing this trip with us. I have been to Kashmir last year and this blog of yours will rekindle my memories.

    • Rakesh Bawa says:

      Namaskar Sushant Ji
      My pleasure that your memories got refreshed. I think Kashmir despite its oddities is such a wonderful place.

  • After looking at the picture “Tujhe bulayen yeh vaadiyaan” I am sure you must have visited in the first quarter of June. In the month of July it turns into green carpet.
    Many Places in the Kashmir are must visit places.
    Thanks for sharing the informative travelogue..

  • vandana paranjape says:

    ?????? ??????? ???????.
    ??????? ?? ??????? ?? ??????,????? ?????????????? ?????? ???? ?? ?? ????? ??? ???? ?? ???????.???? ???? ?????????? ??,?????? ?????? ??,????? ,???? ????? ???? ?????? ??,???? ??? ?? ??????? ???????? ?????? ???? ????? ????????.

    • Rakesh Bawa says:

      Vandana Ji, Namaskar.
      Thanks for endearing thoughts. Kashmir not only has got natural beauty but hidden spiritual ambiance also. I had not been to Sri Amarnath yatra ji for the reason of Pavani being quite young for the sojourn and high altitudes. Pavani’s mother name is Savita.

  • Saurabh Gupta says:

    Very good & informative post.

    I remember the taste of moong ki daal ke pakode. it’s really good. Thanks for sharing the trip.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *