اگر بهشت بر روی زمین وجود دارد و
این است که این است آن این است
[ Agar Firdaus bar rooe zamin ast
Any write-up on Kashmir would rightly begin with the above couplet that the Persian poet Amir Khusrau said (alternative version says the Mughal emperor Jehangir said this) when he set his eyes on this beautiful land, meaning ‘If there is paradise on earth, it is this it is this it is this’.hameen ast-o, hameen ast-o, hameen ast ]
At the risk of sounding clichéd and repetitive if not superfluous, here are 13 things you cannot miss on your first visit to Kashmir.
1. Fresh Air! The crisp mountain air can be so strong at times; it can be quite overwhelming for our lungs accustomed to various degrees of pollution.
|Mist laden air|
|Drive through steep valleys with breathtaking views.|
|Tiny white flowers spread across|
|Steep climb up on a Gondola.|
|A momentary glimpse of the blue skies..|
3. Shikara ride : Spend a few hours in a Shikara. Watch people from the village across the Dal Lake go about their routine life in their boats, oblivious to the meandering tourists – be it buying meat or selling groceries or going to school.
|The vast expanse of the Dal Lake dotted with colorful Shikaras|
|Shikaras lined up along the ghats.|
|Fruit vendor passing by..|
|Sun peering in through the clouds|
|The hill atop which is located the Shankaracharya temple.|
4. Go to a dry fruit store; simply soak in the aroma of various spices.
5. Horse around! Make sure you hire a horse at least at one of the places you visit! It can be quite adventurous at times, when you’ll see little rocks slipping from underneath the hooves.
|A horsekeeper, wearing the traditional Pheran|
6. Maggi ! Appreciate the importance of Maggi, which might be the only thing you get in the hills.
7. Talk to the local people- they are always ready to help; especially the kids – watch them giggle as you try to talk in Kashmiri; but don’t be surprised when the kids demand their ‘bakshis’ from you, and yeah, one or two might even ask you “India se aaye ho?”. That did leave me a little shaken.
|The li'l girl who wanted her picture clicked..|
|"Aap India se aaye ho?"|
8. Go for random walks in Srinagar city; the days are pretty long in the summers. I missed the hub of Lal Chowk, thanks to a Bandh call given on the very same day that I’d planned to go.
|A beautiful evening by the Jhelum.|
|Chinar trees; you'll find them everywhere.|
|Could never get enough of this particular view..|
|Sharika Bhawani temple, Hari Parbat, on the outskirts of Srinagar city; considered one of the holiest places by the displaced Kashmiri Pandit community|
9. Taste the crystal ice cold water from the mountain springs.
10. Local cuisine: Make sure you taste the Kashmiri Wazwan, the Kahwa, and of course the wide variety of cookies and confectionery! However, to each his own, and it varies from person to person on how you’ll enjoy the food. (Click here to read more on Wazwan)
|Kashmiri Wazwan: Rista, Gushtaba, Sheek kabab, Tabak Maz, Dhania Qurma, Mirchi Qurma etc served with piping hot steamed rice. Many of these are cooked for hours together for that special flavor.|
|Kahwa, with saffron, almonds and elaichi|
|Earrings with Jali work and Papier mache work|
12. Drive past the rolling hills and valleys and streams and glaciers! And don't forget to stop at such picturesque locations.
|Paddy fields along the roads|
13. Finally, try recalling all the colors you know, but that may not be enough, as there are simply too many!
(Note: Close-up pictures of the locals/individuals have been clicked with their permission. This is purely from a traveler's point of view; any errors-politically incorrect or not are purely unintended!)
Edit: 30 Sept 2014.
It is heart-rending to read about how badly the entire city has been affected by the recent floods.
The area where we stayed, Rajbagh has been one of the worst affected. The calm waters of the
Jhelum which I adored so much, were capable of causing such destruction, I never even imagined!
A sincere request to all, to make a contribution, big or small, towards rebuilding this beautiful city.
(This is an option: PM Relief Fund )