KASHMIR, THE PARADISE ON EARTH
As I type these words memories flood my mind as I embarked on a beautiful tour this very day, last year to cherish for a life time. My first attempt to one of my other passions besides food blogging, traveling is compiled in this elaborate post of my visit to Srinagar. My blog is essentially related to Food and I have been passionately writing recipes for the past 4 years now. As we in our family also love to visit places and go on long and short trips, I wondered why not write about them and share some interesting incidents relating to travel, places of interest and of course about the food related to that place. This post is all about my visit to Srinagar and nearby places I visited last April. Though it has been a year now, the memories are still fresh and I just rewinded my memories back in time to the wonderful time spent there to remember for a lifetime.
Srinagar is the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and is the largest cities of the state. We started our journey from New Delhi on a package tour from South Indian Travels, on April 16th morning through flight. The journey took 1 1/2 hours and I did not realise that I would fall in love with this place as much as I did. After landing and collecting our baggage we were received by a person with a vehicle which was a part of the tour. We set on our first leg of our travel and drove to Dal Lake. Dal Lake has such beauty and charm that it is one of the beautiful places to visit and stay, if you really have to experience Kashmir. Below are a few pictures of Dal Lake taken as soon as we landed there and also some after sunset.
We stayed at the beautiful Boat House named Swan Group Of Houseboats which was an experience in itself. Spread over 15 km in circumference this lake is one of the beautiful and pleasant attractions of Srinagar and it is highly recommended to stay at least a day here to experience the delight of this tour. There are many houseboats floating in the Dal Lake and each one has a set of rooms that is built with wood and has a majestic balcony overlooking the lake. On the lake one can find vendors selling various eatables as you can see my husband enjoying a cone ice cream here. You can also witness many salesmen selling jewellery, clothes beautiful flowers, seeds and fresh vegetables. Basically it is a floating market here. We bought some earrings and neck piece for our daughter. One can find a good bargain here and also buy some souvenirs. During winters the lake turns in to a sheet of frozen ice and temperatures drops to as low as 10 degrees below 0. The driver of our car stopped at one point at Boulevard road at Shikara gate no.7 where a boatman came and took us to Swan group of Houseboats.
After freshening up and a hearty meal we came to main land to explore more of the city by starting with Chashme Shahi which is a garden built around a spring by Ali Mardan Khan, governor of Shah Jahan for his son. We strolled through the garden and springs and moved on to our next destination of Tulip Gardens. I have never in my life seen so much of colourful flowers grown on a large scale. Many Bollywood songs have been shot here in Kashmir simply because of its mesmerising scenic beauty.
Next we visited Shalimar Bagh and Hazrat Bal Mosque. Shalimar Bagh is a Mughal Garden located on the outskirts of Srinagar city. It is linked through a channel to the Northeast of Dal Lake on its right bank. Hazrat Bal is a Muslim shrine which contains a relic the Moi-E- Muqquadas believed by the Muslims to be the hair of Prophet Muhammad.
Next day was even exciting. We started early to reach Gulmarg by road. It is nearly 58 km distant from Srinagar. One of the enchanting experiences I had was here. We visited a Shiva temple on the foothills and started our journey by stopping at St.Mary’s Church, a Golf Course and lastly reached the top on a cable car called Gondola. The scenic beauty that lay below was breathtaking. I kept thanking my husband who planned a surprise tour for the two of us which proved to be a lasting memory of my life time.
Next day’s itenerary was Shankaracharya Temple, Pari Mahal and Dachigam National Park at Srinagar. Owing to terrorist threats there were security alerts everywhere but the local people were friendly and mingled with tourists and welcomed us warmly. My stay there was absolutely eventful and I would say that at least once in a lifetime one should go and stay here to know and experience it. Yes, Pt. Jawahar Lal once said ” If there is a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here. So very true. We were not allowed to click pictures at the temple where the famous song from the Bollywood movie Aap Ki Kasam, Zindagi Ke Safar Me was shot. Pari Mahal or the Angel’s Abode of Seven is a terraced garden located at the top of Zabarwan mountain range overlooking the city of Srinagar. Dachigam National park offers safe and natural home to many animals and birds in the open.
During the last leg of our journey on the final day we visited the greatest of all places, Pahalgam. Located in the Anantnag District of the state, it has the most captivating scenery . Starting our drive through car, it took us 2 1/2 hrs to reach here. It is located approximately 92 kms from Srinagar. We took a horse ride to climb up the top to view Betaab Valley, Lidder River and Mini Switzerland.The place we stayed at Srinagar was Hotel Royal Khazir which provided best services in all respects. Food was healthy and tasty and we also had a chance to taste the Kashmiri Kahwa, a variety of tea famous to the region. Over all the travel to the Paradise on Earth was an enchanting one and I would love to visit soon in the near future. Amidst disturbances of terrorism in the valley, the government has brought measures to encourage the visitors from rest of India and abroad. Do visit this place at least once to know the beauty India’s popular travel destinations.
Tips while travelling here:
I learnt that only post paid sim cards work here.
You can purchase Pashmina Shawls, Tea, Fruits of the season such as Apples, Peaches etc. and most importantly Saffron. Almonds are also cheap here.
You must not miss the Houseboat stay as it is one of the most exquisite experiences.
A visit to Pahalgam and Gulmarg is a must too.