Your Offbeat Shopping Cart From Kashmir

Your Offbeat Shopping Cart From Kashmir

Your Offbeat Shopping Cart From Kashmir

“Keep some souvenirs of your past, or how will you ever prove it wasn’t all a dream?”

From the majestic Chinar trees, the mighty Himalayas, the lush green hillsides, the mesmerising sounds of the Rabab, the finely woven Pashmina, the Dal Jheel reflecting ornamental walnut wood carved houseboats, the local Kashmiri chacha in pheran, the alluring red Kashmiri chillies, the Saffron Town, to bags full of apples and cherries the list goes on. Kashmir is indeed any traveller’s dream.

Hey there! Planning a trip to Kashmir to escape the heat and dust? See Kashmir as a traveler this time, not as a tourist! Traveling is so much more than just visiting the touristy highlights. While the must-see attractions are always fun, be sure to find the time for some of the little-known or less documented spots too.

Whenever you visit somewhere, you always need some pre-trip research. And if you are doing that right now, you are welcome! You’ve come to the right place. We will help you with an essential part of our trip – shopping.

While the staple shopping cart of every tourist would include – pashmina shawls, walnut wood carvings, papiér–maché knick knacks and the alluring red Kashmiri chillies, allow us to send you back with some not so staple items as a memory from Kashmir.

Take note:

Vintage things from Kashmir

 

“Fads come and go but V I N T A G E endures.”
Buy vintage maps of Kashmir, old photographs of Kashmir, antique copper ware like samovars and trays, antique silver.

Special tea leaves for Pink tea

 

“Give me tea, O Saqi, and let there be no delay;
Let me have it bitter, if milk and sugar are not at hand.
Had Jamshid taken a draught from this pot,
His slow-beating pulse would have run like deer.
Have you heard the boiling kettle of tea cry bagg bagg?
Verily you would say it was Mansur shouting ana al-haqq.
There is a reference in the Book of God
Bread to eat and tea to drink.”
Chanama, (A Tea Poem) by Mulla Hamidullah when Chai mania was probably at peak in Kashmir.
Addicted to tea? Why sip on only milk tea when you can bring back some special tea leaves to make the traditional ‘gulabi chai’? You’ll get them easily at most grocery stores.

Shatoosh Shawl

 

Wrapped in ‘Pashmina’
Of course you’re going to buy a Kashmiri Pashmina but don’t forget to buy a ‘Shahtoosh’ shawl. They are so fine and light they can be passed through a wedding ring and are warm enough to hatch a pigeon egg.

Local Kashmiri jewellery & attire

 

Let’s go Local!
Be spoiled for choice with local Kashmiri ornaments and attire – necklaces, bracelets, hairpins and of course pherans.

Spices from Kashmir

 

At northern India’s tip lies the snowy cold and spicy hot Kashmir region.
Think spices in Kashmir and you’ll automatically be reminded Kashmiri red chillies. Heat it up with some Kashmiri red chilies. Other than the, you must take back saffron from a saffron farm near Pampore Fields.

Doda Sapphire

 

Bank upon a piece of jewellery enveloped with the ‘Doda Sapphire’
If you’ve not already burnt a hole in your pocket by investing in a Pashmina, try a very rare and unique to Kashmir gem, the ‘Doda Sapphire’.

Kandur waan

 

‘Kandur Wan’, where breads are baked with love and sprinkled with dreams.
Take some bread, love and dreams back home made at our local bakery or ‘Kandur Wan’ as we call it. Lavaasa, Girdas and Kulchas needs special mentions.

Don’t come back home without owning any of the above mentioned items and while browsing the wares experience some haggling with locals. There’s no truer way to experience a place and once you come back from a trip to Kashmir. You’ll definitely say, Emperor Jehangir was right.

“Gar firdaus bar ru e zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.”

kashmir travelogue, travel to kashmir, gulmarg

First-hand travelogue of a journey to Kashmir (Srinagar, Yousmarg & Gulmarg)

 

Gulmarg, Yousmarg, Srinagar, Kashmir, Kashmiriyat

And I am back with the travelogue of my friend’s recent visit to Srinagar, Yousmarg and Gulmarg. After unravelling her travel to Srinagar & Yousmarg, I had saved her experience of Gulmarg to be told separately!Gulmarg is undoubtedly heaven on earth- A piece of land quietly spelled to evoke souls of angels by Allah. The rainbows that stretch along its horizon look like halos on the heads of angels. A beauty incomparable; can only be witnessed with the eyes of soul.

After her adventures in Srinagar & Yousmarg for three and a half days, my friend began her ride to serene Gulmarg in a taxi in the second half of her third day in Kashmir.

road to gulmarg, gulmarg

{बिट्टीनाईदूरीए
चूमज़राईबामराइयो
क्याकरहूथाम
ज़ारज़राईबामराइयो

I hummed as my cab driver sang along with me and the tape. The song Do Jahan was stuck in my mind from the first time I heard it in the movie Haider! Even though the song is little sad and about separation, the Kashmiri bit leaves me calm and at peace.

 

That day with 2 ‘O’Clock on the watch,

Meadows and moors ran across, The song made me cry.

For I was going away from Srinagar, Separation hit my eye!

I hummed, I calmed- His soothing voice did the charm.

This was the most beautiful road I had ever bestowed,

Green and Blue and White- lay on the crescent road.

 

We stopped at Kolahoi Green Heights Hotel in Gulmarg.

kolahoi greens

 

Immense green land below my feet

And grandeur blue sky above my head;

Long trees,

And sights of snow covered mountain peaks…

 

is the first expression of Gulmarg in my eyes, captured like a picture. We reached around four o’clock and were tired already. The hotel served us with grand warm rooms and Kahwah. We already had our lunch so we enjoyed the apple crisps along with tea. The ambience of Kolahoi was as warm as the Kashmiri people managing it. After some rest at the hotel, we decided to go and take a walk in the greenery outside.
While in Gulmarg, one does not have to be worried about where, when, how, or why to explore it. Just resume out of your hotel, and start strolling. Every street contours the essence of Kashmiriyat in it as people walking in their long warm clothes smile at you affectionately. We walked through the roads that were surrounded with trees and small weeds hidden in grass. I plucked some and kept them in my journal. I was keen to learn their names & store Gulmarg in its bits.

My father and sister had rented bicycles and me and my mother decided to walk. (You can rent them in Gulmarg as per hour or per day basis, depending upon your need). On our way, we visited a children’s park, church and temple.

 

As it grew dark,

Gulmarg lit up in household lights.

Like fireflies- On a moonlit night.

The sky turned black,

The blue hay spread along sides.

Stars twinkled, moon smiled,

The clouds hid them behind blue eyes.

 

So far I had only witnessed, noon and night in the arms of Gulmarg. The next day I woke up at 6:30 am when my father was sitting at the edge of the window in our room, a sun-kissed ray spread on his shoulder. He looked in the distant somewhere at something. I was sure I got my genes of dreaming from him! We decided to go out for a walk.

The trees were lit with rays of sunlight

Scattering their arms wide, they touched my eyes,

One ray at a time!

Misty blue sky, hay sitting on flowers nearby,

And bumble bees singing in delight.

Such was the ride,

With breeze on my face and mud in my feet lie.

Apparently, we got lost. But thanks to the really kind people of Gulmarg, they not only told us the way back to our hotel, but one of the baba (Elderly man) walked us back as he was going somewhere nearby. On our way back he sang Kashmiri folks, which I could barely understand. The melody of his voice transcended me to the world of a nightingale singing loud from its beak while I sat and listened to it. His voice was coarse and probably that’d be its beauty.

When we reached, my mother was turning blue and red as we were supposed to get ready for the visit to Gondola. We got ready in minutes, had our breakfast and went along quietly, without meeting her eyes (laughs). And yeah, the food was delicious.

gondola, gulmarg

The details on Gondola adventure are easily available on internet so I’ll skip the description and jump on to the best part. It is divided into two phases and both of them give completely different views of the valley. While phase 1 was extremely beautiful and picturesque, phase 2 was altogether snow covered even in the month of June. The authorities let you stay there only for two to three hours hence decided to make most of it.

From phase 2, we walked to Alpather Lake located in between of Aparwath peaks. My hands were freezing and it was the best feeling I had ever got so far in my life. The lake, except in June & July, is frozen throughout the year. I closed my eyes to imagine a frozen lake before me. But the beauty of its water had made its abode in my heart already.

alpather lake

After coming back from Gondola, I was extremely tired. So I sat in the balcony and began settling my journal which was overflowing with weeds and flowers where I slept unaware of where I was. Next day I woke up in my bed (My dad must have tucked me in), and it was time to leave. We had a flight back from Srinagar Airport around 1 pm.

 

I ran out for the last time on that trip,

Breathed in all the air I could,

And whispered, Goodbye,

I promise to come back again!}

That’s where her beautiful journey ends. She surely flew back to her home, but she left a piece of her heart in Kashmir. Her poetic romance with Kashmir, made me see a whole new Kashmir through her eyes despite the fact that I have lived here all my life. As I conclude I’d take some liberty and say Kashmir is where the Heart is.

At Kashmiri Life, we try to explore the beauty, culture and traditions of Kashmir is different ways. The experience shared by my friend gave us a chance to enlighten our readers with a poetic insight of our beautiful valley. I thank my friend for sharing her intellect with me so I could share it with my readers.

Kashmir BLOG

First-hand travelogue of a journey to Kashmir (Srinagar, Yousmarg & Gulmarg)

kashmir travelogue, travel to kashmir, gulmarg

 

Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,

Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast”,

repeated Jahangir, after Amir Khusro, when he saw the scenic beauty of Kashmir.

My friend recently visited Kashmir. See her experience unwind in the serene towns like Srinagar, Yousmarg and Gulmarg as she has a unique description for each one of them-

{I  have always been fascinated by Kashmir, its blue skies and the stories of its beauty. I was told that my parents took me to Kashmir as a child but not that I remember any of it now. And, recently I got a chance to visit Srinagar and Gulmarg with my parents, again. It was a trip of 6 days and 5 nights.

Days I will never forget,

Nights that still breeze on my cheeks.

It must be the charm of that morning,

And I fell in love with Kashmir-

Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen…

 

kASHMIR TRAVELOGUE

 

We spent three and a half days in Srinagar and the other two and a half in Gulmarg (I remember that our trip advisor suggested that we spend one day in Gulmarg, but we gladly spent two), the best decision ever, for its beauty, can’t be seen in a day according to me. Initially, I was totally unaware of the actual presence of romanticism in Kashmir. All the information I had was either googled or someone else’s perspective distorting my vision of Kashmir. In this way I felt twice removed from reality. The first day, we landed at Srinagar International Airport and took a taxi to our hotel, Metropolis, in Srinagar.

It was in the ride from airport to hotel,

The one I could translate in prospects.

And all that I could feel was breeze ,

Flowing gently on my cheeks.

The birds chirping up on the trees.

Sun rays kissing my bodice.

I had transcended to a dream,

No car- no hotel came in between.

And bang, we were there. My enigma was disturbed, but soon warm acquaintance of people, and the Kahwah they offered embraced me back. All I needed to do was to crash in the comfy bed of hotel for some time to regain all the energy to explore ‘Jannat’ on Earth.

 

Metropolis srinagar

 

After having an absolutely delicious breakfast of Kashmiri breads called Girda & Choat, omelettes, some more Kahwah and fruits like cherries, peach es and apples; we went out to see the gardens around our hotel. The nearest was Tulip garden, unfortunately closed in June. Tulips bloom best in April and May and I was a little sad that we came in June. But then we went to other gardens, Chashma Shahi Garden, Botanical gardens and many more that showcases the equally serene landscapes. We walked to these places and I was busy collecting different types of wild weeds and flowers along the way.

In the evening, we went to Dal Lake where my jaw dropped to my shoe when I saw Shikaras dressed in colours, flowers and mystique. It felt like I already knew this place.

 

Shikara, dal lake, srinagar

 

We floated in Dal, with several other Shikaras,

Reds and blues and yellows and greens,

I wore blue, and others were drenched in sun-set beams.

He hummed a song I couldn’t understand,

But his smile, voice and rhythm put me at peace.

Chattered a woman, and another, and a third,

Selling and sailing together.

He hit another splash, and we moved forward,

Soon we were in the middle of Gods shower.

“Neeche utar lo didi”, said he.

The most commercial Shikaras are available near Ghat 2 that take you to other side where there are restaurants, bookstores etc. While my parents moved to some handicrafts shop, I entered a bookstore called, Gulshan Bookstore, a one of its kind bookshop-library on the famous Dal Lake. It turned out to be the most interesting place for me. It was a hub of Kashmiri literature along with others. It is a perfect place all book lovers. We spent a good time in the market around.

When we came back it was already night and after dinner we had a sound sleep in the comfy quilts of our hotel. My wish of having some Kahwah before going to bed was fulfilled by the ‘kaka’ there, who was also pleased at my request.

Next morning we took a taxi to Yousmarg, a valley two and a half hours away from Srinagar.

 

The last half hour of our drive was most scenic,

Mountains, peaks, trees and my friend breeze.

And then there was a green field,

Spread wide below the blue sky: I shouted,

Wait, atleast let me try.

 

1

 

I stepped down into an Almond farm. I requested the farmer there to let me take some almonds and he was way too pleased. He took me inside and had me choose almonds myself. I took a handful and we moved ahead. I didn’t forget to thank and bid farewell to the farmer.

In Yousmarg, there are three treks- Cherry Field, Doodh Ganga Lake and Nilnag Lake. One can either take horses or can walk up to them. My father and I decided to take horses and my mother and sister walked and we only went to Doodh Ganga.

 

doodh ganga

 

(If you go there too, ask for the horses named Hira and Dhanu. They have the sweetest caretakers. One of them is old and another one young. They will keep you engaged in talks and are extremely careful. Or maybe I am just being partial to my experience (blush).)

On arrival at the Doodh Ganga Lake, I was astonished at the purity of its water, so clean that one can actually drink from it,  as I did. “The water supply of Srinagar goes out from here”, said the horsemen seeing me awestruck by the beauty.

My mother and sister reached after us. And we sat there in solace,

Sharing fruits, Kahwah and almonds we plucked on our way.

It was the picnic spot of my dream.

Blue and Green,

Just like a dream.

I wished we could have checked out the other two tracks but my mother had a back pain. After a while we went back, down to Yousmarg and then to hotel. That night I slept without supper. I wanted to dream!

Next day I woke up curled up in sunlight that stretched from the window to my bed. It was time to move to Gulmarg and however beautiful Srinagar was, Gulmarg was where I wanted to reside. We dressed up, ate, packed and went to Lal Chowk, the most famous market of Srinagar. We bought Pashminas, Kesar, gifts for our family and drove away to Gulmarg, a ride of two hours from Srinagar.}

 

road to gulmarg

 

Wait, I have to stop you here. The journey to Gulmarg will begin in the second half of the article. Let the beauty of what you read be in the waiting for it.
Please do continue with the rest of the travelogue to get the different perspective that my friend has towards her experience in Gulmarg as I have equal inclination to portray it in the best way.

Let us together make it worth our while.

 

Did You Know Kashmir like we do?