A Travelogue From The Paradise On Earth, Kashmir

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A Travelogue From The Paradise On Earth, Kashmir – Author : Madhushri Bardhan

After my engineering got over, I badly needed a break before joining my first job. We decided to take a tour to the most beautiful part of India. From Srinagar airport to city it roughly took us half n hr and soon reaching the city we started hunting for an accommodation. I am strictly against the idea of taking travel packages, it gives me the deja vu feeling of going to picnic where the teachers constantly keep their eyes on you .Also all your destinations are pre decided, you can’t even take a detour if you feel.

After much of hunting we managed to get a lodge near Dal Lake (i don’t believe in spending much on my stay as i need a room only to take bath & sleep at night) paying only Rs.500 per day.
We then left to take Shikara ride in Dal Lake. Dal Lake with every inch of it soothing your eyes is the heart of this city.There were floating houses, floating shops,floating gardens all around us.With my Shikara taking each right & left turn it made me feel as if i was getting inside a story,each shop/house/shikara/people around showing a story of their own.

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I remember going to this particular shop from where my Mom carried back 3 bags.The shopkeeper told me about him having customers all over the country and with new arrivals he WhatsApp the images to them and also does COD.I also met another shopkeeper selling wooden crafted decor’s.While my parents being busy with shopping i chatted with him over a cup of “kesar chai”.He told me how he lost his entire family during firing in Lal Chowk.This shop is all he is left with now.His story broke my heart but it gradually faded away as we always think that we are in deeper pain.

“If there is a Paradise on earth,it is this,it is this,it is this”

Gulmarg – We took a private car to reach Gulmarg. The best way to explore the beauty of Gulmarg is by taking the cable car.From the car parking area we had to walk around 1.5km to take our Gondola ride.the same distance can also be covered by taking horse ride(we took it on our way back).The ride was divided into two sections,first from Gulmarg to Kongdoor & the other from Kongdoor to Apherwat.The cables operating at the height of 2500 m above sea level gave a splendid view of the green forest around.Gulmarg is also a popular destination for skiing.
On our way back our driver stopped the car near a bunglow.It was a private house where the owner was selling imitation jewelries,bed-sheets & home decor items.it was a nirvana for all the ladies out there.Grabbing whatever they could,the rates were astonishingly low.I bought this royal blue pendant (being inspired by Titanic) in exchange of Rs.400,the cost of a similar pendant same when i asked in a local Mumbai shop it was Rs.1000.

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Sonmarg – the ride to Sonmarg will be always fresh in my mind.How the road got blocked because of snow slide,how we had to take the path less traveled,how we had to push our car through a tough road are still alive in my eyes.With our frequent stops due to snow slides and rains i met a lot of interesting people.Army officers with there crew were staying at a camp,it was so much fun to talk to them.They didn’t wanted us to click them or promote the location in any way where they were staying.There were also people going to Ambarnath Yatra.
In Sonmarg i went to a very interesting place where this giant waterfall was freezed to snow.it was mainly interesting because the mountain to the left of this waterfall belonged to Pakistan & the mountain to the right was in the region of India,i was supposedly standing on this invisible border separating the two countries.

Pahalgam – another popular tourist destination in Kashmir.Many bollywood films have also been shot here.After reaching Pahalgam we came to know that this place is famous for sunrise.We quickly changed our plan and stayed over and yes we don’t regret our decision.Betaab Valley in Pahalgam is also famous for river rafting but sadly i couldn’t do it.As i can’t say upset for long 😛
I did river rafting in Hrishikesh soon after this trip.

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Food & Shopping – The local cuisine of Kashmir is a royal treat.Kashmiri’s are meat lovers and all there major dishes are made by goat,lamb & mutton.Wazwan is a meal of various dishes which is usually made in weddings or special occasions.Rogan Josh,Goshtaba are some of the dishes in Wazwan which can be tasted in local restaurants.the hospitality offered by locals were of utmost standard.I don’t think i have ever met any stranger who is so good to me.The “being good by nature” is as if a mandatory trait which every person carries with them.
When we returned from Sonmarg it was very late and somehow we found a small restaurant which was open.We were also low on cash so we ordered only 2 dishes.The owner served us extra dishes and didn’t even charged for them.

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Lal Chowk is the main market in the city with enormous shops.This is a hub for shopping lovers.One can easily bargain and get best deals here.

Kashmir is an all season destination.In each season the same place looks different and depicts its own beauty.The locals are extremely friendly and humble.I also met our army Jawan’s who are giving their mind/body/soul to keep the terrorism away.The constant breakdown of war here has affected the locals and their living.With tourism being the major source of income of locals it has gone downhill with all the chaos surrounding Kashmir.

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