It has been a while since I have returned from Srinagar but somehow the high from the place hasn't come down. The memories of snow-splashed Gulmarg, the hospitality of ‘The Khyber Himalayan Resorts and Spa’, the striking beauty of the 46 varieties of tulips in Srinagar, the colourful life of Dal and Nigeen lake, the unforgettable aroma of Kahwah, the heritage of Awantipora, history of Martand Sun temple of Mattan and the beauty of houseboats has left me asking for more. Would you believe me that I have lost a piece of my soul in one of the most beautiful valleys of the world? Kashmir is truly magical.
The poems that have spoken about Kashmir being a paradise are all indeed true. The longing to experience it with the naked eye was always a deep hidden desire. Now that it is fulfilled, I can only say, one has to see it to know what it is all about. It is an experience of the soul and the senses, much beyond my words and jargons. There is absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to your safety as the guidance of the locals makes one feel like, it is their own home and you have lived there for many years together.
Gulmarg is gorgeous while Srinagar is spell-binding!
They say Gulmarg is beautiful in all its seasons. I have to say that the fresh sheet of snow in April made it powerfully and mysteriously attractive. From doing a short road trip to the oldest shrine of Babareshi, to the idea of walking down to Rani temple and St. Mary’s Church and finally riding the Gondola, the time spent in Gulmarg was absolutely fascinating.
The Shikara ride on Dal lake was the first thing that I wanted to do in Srinagar. I had dreamt of thus forever and I am glad I lived it. The gardens of Srinagar is one of the best that I have seen with the Tulip festival living up to its name. This city on the banks of Jhelum has many shades to it and I think I did see a bit of it when I walked around the boulevard road and bund (a pathway by the Jhelum) and peeked into its everyday life closely. The trip to Awantipura and Mattan via Anantnag were like adding a wealth of knowledge around the history and heritage of Kashmir. And no trip to Srinagar is complete without drinking the sweet water of Chasme Shahi and visiting the Shankaracharya temple and Hazrat bal mosque.
Each day in Kashmir was like discovering a beautiful secret and peeping into its soul a little deeper. As far as my food experiences are concerned, every indulgence deserves a separate story. I must tell you that I have brought back walnut fudge from ‘Just Baked’ and I am loving it. During my stay, I met some extremely wonderful Kashmiri people who strongly spoke about their passion. They talked about their house boats, the importance of revival of tourism, the steps that must be taken for the cleaning of Dal lake, the trails that must happen for exploring the hidden gems of architecture and the need to protect the Kashmiri culture.
Kashmir is still on my mind. The serenity of the place is magical, the last thing that I can say is that Kashmir is a paradise and nothing should stop us from visiting it for its beauty, its people and its tourism.
“Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast”, “If there is ever a heaven on earth, it's here”
The above lines were said by the Mughal emperor Jahangir.