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    Rendezvous With Kasmir
    Wednesday, June 21, 2006
    After much pondering, me and my family decided to visit Jammu & Kashmir [J & K] for 5 days and I must say it was a fantastic trip worth the time and everything else. In this post I will be my experiences during the 5 day tour of Srinagar and its neighboring towns.

    Day 1 - Our Spice Jet flight to Srinagar was late by approximately 10-20 minutes. These flights are becoming like Indian Railways I say. During the flight only a small bottle of mineral water, biscuits and some toffee’s are served. Nothing more, nothing less.

    After some 1 hours 20 mins journey, we touch down at the Srinagar airport. It’s an airport like no other city. There are army bunkers camouflaged throughout the airport area and the airport isn’t really big. But still, it is good. We collect our check-in baggage and realize that the condition of our brand new suitcase is very bad. Evidently, it hasn’t been handled carefully.

    When we come out of the airport to find our taxi, it starts raining. Our driver throughout the tour, Afroz, tells us that since it is raining, we can’t go for any sight-seeing today.

    We reach our hotel, Hotel Broadway which is the second best hotel in Srinagar, the best bring Hotel Oberoi and rest some time. In the eveing, we go to the Dal Lake which is ‘huge’. There are shops opposite the Dal Lake throughtout. These shops range from Hotels to Dhabas [eateries, restaurants kind of] to art / craft shops, etc. It is a very large market and interesting market.

    We stroll till around 8 p.m. and then return to our hotel, have dinner and then sleep.

    Try to get a taxi booked beforehand from a reliable source and be sure

    that the taxi renting company is trustworthy and good.

    Day 2 - As scheduled, our driver came to our hotel at 10:30 a.m. and we left towards one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, ‘Gulmarg’. During the journey to Gulmarg, we saw apricot, cherry, apple trees and we also bought a packet of cherries from a cherry garden in which there were many trees full of bright red cherries. During the journey to Gulmarg, there were many breath-taking scenes because we have to go through mountains in the later stage of the journey.

    All the time, we could see snow-covered peaks and simply that view was very beautiful. A checkpoint has to be crossed at the time when one enters the mountainous area. At this place, we hired a guide. He would go in our car till Gulmarg and get-off after the journey at this point only. The charge is about INR 300.

    After reaching Gulmarg, one has the option to walk 1-2 kms to reach the Gondola [cable car] which takes the person up in the mountains, or likewise, one can cover the distance on a horse. We decided to go on foot as advised by our guide. There is a sort of track beside a large grassland which leads to the Gondola and in this Grassland, there is a temple of Lord Shiva, an ex-Hotel which was in the process of revival.

    Many pictures have been shot in Gulmarg which the guide proudly told us. There is almost always a long queue for the Gondola which has two phases. The first phase will take you to around 10000 ft. from the sea level and the ticket costs around INR 200. We got on the Gondola and enjoyed the ride till our destination. After reaching there, we bought the tickets for the next phase for our journey [which was also by Gondola] and waited in queue for our turn. I came to know that this Gondola was the highest in the world.

    But in midway through the queue, the Gondola broke down and we couldn’t go any further . There was fresh snow [which is not a generality in this season] there but we weren’t allowed to stay there for more than 10 - 20 mins because we are not accustomed to the atmosphere and the decrease in the amount of Oxygen.

    Nevertheless, we decided to go by horses to place where there was snow but not fresh at that place only. So, after some horse riding, I saw it. There is was, all white and gleaming. This was the first time I came this close to snow and at the simple sight of it, my heart did a back-flip.

    This was no ordinary place, there is some speciality here also . This snow is collected at the base of a mountain and from the mountain flows a small waterfall

    which goes below the layer of snow on which we all were standing without melting the snow. And the waterfall’s water is very cold and, I daresay, better than most of the packaged water we get. We enjoyed very much here and before we knew, it was time to go.

    Hiring a guide while going to Gulmarg is a good idea. He tells you many things which you otherwise

    wouldn’t have known.

    Day 3 - Today was the day, we had to go to Pahalgam. Through nearly all along the way, the Ladder river flows alongside the road and the many scenes which are created are very good. It is a small town with the beautiful Ladder River and the breath-taking Kashmir valley. When going to Pahalgam, the vehicle is check 1-2 times and this time security was quiet beefed up because of the ‘Amarnath Yatra’ which goes through this town only.

    There are water sports available here. When we went, there was rafting going on in the Ladder river thought the water level was not at its highest and that is why we didn’t try it. Instead, we went on horses [again ]

    through mountains to the Kashmir Valley, which is very beautiful. One can go by foot also but it may be tiring because there is quuiet a lot of trekking. Other than this, there is not much to see in Pahalgam. The market can be visited but we didn’t as there wasn’t anything special in it.

    Don’t never, ever forget to take you camera with you. You will regret the whole of your life this mistake. The photographic scenes are, at places, very good and such scenes, one may never find elsewhere.

    Day 4 - This day was devoted to only Srinagar. There are 3 main gardens in Srinagar, namely, ‘Nishat Garden’ built by Jehanger, ‘Chashm-E-Shahi’ & ‘Shalimar Garden’. First off, we went to ‘Chashm-E-Shahi’ Garden. Chashm means waterfall and Shahi means Royal. During the mughal rule in India, in this garden, the royal family came and drank water which flowed here by a small waterfall. Today also, the water flows and if you go there, it is must

    that you take a sip of the water that comes flowing. It is so good and cold that I can’t describe it. Otherwise, the garden is fairly good. Next, we went to ‘Nishat’ Garden which is based just opposite the Dal Lake. Through this garden also, a stream flows into the Dal Lake but I won’t recommend drinking wated form it . This garden has many levels and on each level there are 2 or more Maple [Chinar - in Hindi] trees. These trees are huge and give plently of shade.

    Then, we went to the last garden, ‘Shalimar’ Garden. In this garden, I didn’t find anything interesting. This one is fairly basic garden whith trees, flowers, etc. so we left early because we had to cover 3 more destinations.

    Our next destination was the Shankaracharya Temple located in top of a small mountain situated near the Dal Lake. To reach this temple, first we have to go up a winding road and after the usual checking, one has to cover 320 steps to reach the temple. Once at the top, we get to see the whole Srinagar. The temple itself is small but is very good. It was constructed in around 5 B.C. and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Earlier, it was called the ‘Lord Shiva Temple’ but when Shankaracharya

    came and meditated here, its name has been changed to ‘Shankaracharya Temple’. And in the movie Mission Kashmir, the terrorists conspire

    to blow up this temple only :P . Now was the time of the famous ‘Shikara’ ride. So, we hopped in the ‘Shikara’ and did a tour of the Dal Lake. ow, the Dal Lake isin’t like any other lake. It has its own specialities like the House Boats. These boats are basically very large boats in which people live and some are converted to hotels also. Yes, you can go and live in these boats. They are said to be very nice & big inside but I couldn’t check them out. And then there is the boat market, floating garden, etc.

    which are self-explanatory. After the boat ride of around 3 hrs. we then decided to go to the ‘Lal Chowk’. This is the main market of Srinagar. You will get everything here from Kashmiri handicrafts to low-rise Levis . We bought some Kashmiri handicrafts and some other stuffs. We had dinner outside Hotel Broadway today.

    Day 5 - We had our flight today at around 1:50 p.m. so we had to leave early. So, we just had a quick round of the Lal Chowk market o pick up things we couldn’t get the day before. And then we were off to the Airport. Damn, the flight late again. :P

    Kashmir has been of lately plagued of the terriost attacks, threats, etc. During whole of my tour, I even once did not feel scared. The locals are also opposing the terroist activities. By tourism only, the majority of the people there earn their lively-hood. Our driver told us that there were 3 kinds of people present there.

    1] who want Kashmir to become an independent country.

    2] who want Kashmir to remain a part of India.

    3] who want Kashmir to become part of Pakistan.

    I admit there is this feeling of in-security due to the bomb blasts, but the media also highlights all the negative aspects only. Have you ever seen them portraying that how many tourists have gone there? I haven’t. Earlier I also believed that Kashmir is a place where I didn’t want to go. But after I went there, whole of my aspect has changed.

    I say, that if you want to go to Kashmir, and are not going due to these aspects, go there and have a great time! But, keep in control, don’t stay out late and avoid crowded areas like bus stations, etc.

    source - http://pickster.5gigs.com
    posted by J @ 11:10 PM  
    4 Comments:
    • At 11:57 AM, Blogger mbansia said…

      i want kahmir to be a part of india......................................................
      check out this blog (gauri's)
      brain-port.blogspot.com
      it's nice
      by the way the post is tooooooooooo
      long
      and i can't wait for u toshift

       
    • At 12:02 PM, Blogger Pickster C. said…

      i wrote the post man and you cn also see it at : http://pickster.5gigs.com

       
    • At 3:46 PM, Anonymous saurabh.sauron said…

      i also found kashmir gr8. i think the media is trying to make it feel as the valley is not worth visiting. only actually visiting it makes a difference.
      BTW the post is quite long.

       
    • At 11:43 PM, Blogger Rahul Gupta said…

      whoa! thats a huge post. BTW , I will love to visit kasmir if got a chance.

      http://rahulsparadise.blogspot.com/

       
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