Of Lost Home and Acceptance: Jammu and Kashmir

Of Lost Home and Acceptance: Jammu and Kashmir

Of Lost Home and Acceptance: Jammu and Kashmir

 

Kashmiri Life is a platform where we look forward to the experiences, memories and wonders of Kashmiri people while living in Jammu and Kashmir. We look on the bright sides of the valley, the emotions attached to its divine beauty and day to day life.

 

But yesterday, we received a tale/poem about belonging for one’s home. The writer was anonymous but quickly perceived as a displaced Kashmiri residing somewhere around the globe. The poem appears to talk about the beginning of dispute in our valley. It talks about the past- its warmth and glory, then the dispute and finally the present residential situation of the writer. And, the acceptance that comes after a long period of 30 years. It carriers the narrative through the medium of a cup, which she/he probably used for having kahwah as a 20 year old. The interpretation is open to all, we perceive what we feel.

 

We preferred to share it for the emotion that it carries, it’s vital to all of us, a unanimous feeling of belongingness to home. Please let us know if you too connect with it.

 

Of Lost Home and Acceptance: Jammu and Kashmir

 

Of Lost Home and Acceptance

Some warm water, a pinch of tea leaves

I sit in her verandah, drenched in serenity.

 

Golden glow, she says, kahwah you are my dame,

Smiles and giggles, takes a sip from my vain.

 

She plucked a flower, put it in her hair.

Picked me up warm, leaned in her chair:

 

Maa had told her about the clashes today,

Deep thoughts, crescent forehead and shivery mane.

 

Papa, in evening had a helpless face,

He wrapped a hand around me, smile efface.

 

Next, I was packed into a wildered sack,

With others, the kettle and tea leaf bag.

 

When I saw light, the world was no more green.

Black and white, no coos and soft breeze.

 

She picked me up, cold. Put me in a drawer,

I sit here now, terrified in horror.

 

She has grown old now, it’s her 50 some birthday,

I got to see the light again, today.

 

A 20 year old, she runs in my memories,

Her 50 some face, blurs the imagery.

 

She let a tear out, picks me- her elf.

Now I sit & glare at blues, from her new shelf.

– Anonymous

Let the Trees of Kashmir Guide You

Let the Trees of Kashmir Guide You

Let the Trees of Kashmir Guide You

 

“A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.”

When we think of icons we conjure up images of people, places, things that withstand the test of time symbolizing our beliefs, cultural history and traditions. Today let the trees of Kashmir, that stood all the test of time, guide you through an emotionally attached landscape of the place. Kashmir has grown old with the thousands of trees that line up the beautiful valley lapped on the majestic Himalayas. These trees have seen plenty of history pass by their trunks. Trees are not merely another living being; there are secrets that they have been keeping from us, these trees are friends, they talk to each other, some trees bully each other, some share deep love and some are loners.
The scenic beauty of Kashmir is magnified by its symbolic Chinar or Maple trees and Pine trees. It is symbolic to the region and it is believed that once you’ve visited Kashmir you will emotionally get attached to the trees, their shades, colors, beautiful flowers and captivating characteristics.

What is it about the silent companions that make them so captivating?

Pine Trees of Kashmir

The radiant red, yellowish-brown and mauve Chinar dotting the Autumn landscape of Kashmir, the needles of the tall Himalayan Blue Pine that survive the chilliest winters, the matured dark grey bark of the evergreen tall Deodar from the snowy slopes of the Himalayas, the pretty light green foliage and long thin leaves of the Willow trees that sweep lightly with the wind and the leaves that turn yellow in the fall are all native to the Heaven on Earth.

While these home-grown trees and their characteristics have attracted a lot of tourists, movies, writers, poets, wildlife, let us today walk you through some of the notable landmark trees of Jammu and Kashmir.

Chinar Tree

The breath-taking panaroma of the Nishat Bagh and the splendid Chinar
Jammu and Kashmir has declared the majestic, around 700 years old Chinars as the state tree. Though the chinars dots most of the valley’s shrines and mosques, this massive and splendid Chinar tree growing at the old Mughal Gardens in the famous city of Srinagar is marked as a heritage tree.

The Kashmir garden that made Shah Jahan green with envy – the Nishat Bagh and the remarkable double-trunked Magnolia
A lively garden on the eastern side of the Dal Lake, with waterfalls and a double-trunked magnolia by its side.

Chinar Nishat Bagh

The serene Nagin Lake and the large Chinar-

The Lake nestled at the foothills of the Zabarwan ranges in Srinagar is the same, the shikara boats are the same, and the large chinar tree on the Nagin Lake where the boat dock is the same but the dreams of the man who rows the Shikara, the fast-changing shades of the lake, the tourists enjoying their vacations keep changing.

 

Alchi Demon Tree (Populus ciliata:Salicaceae) : A demon mask accentuates an old and broadly branching tree at the small trinket market at Alchi, Ladakh [JK : Alchi : On path to Alshi monastery]

 

On the banks of the Indus river of Leh, lays the Alchi monastery and the famous Alchi Demon tree
A demon mask draws attention to an old and broadly branching bodhi leaf tree at the small knick-knacks market at Alchi, Ladakh.

Willow tree

A small Willow tree that stands guard and keeps watch
A small willow tree is encountered in the spectacular rocky gorge leading to the village of Dar from the Indus river crossing at Nor La.

Char Chinar

A must visit at Dal Lake, Char Chinar Island
A visit via shikaras to the island crowned by four large chinars.

The Char Minar Chinar
This four-trunked monster is the largest and most elaborate of the old Chinar trees in Srinagar and is planted just below the Mughal Gardens.

 

Leh Palace Ridgeline Trees (Populus ciliata:Salicaceae) : Set in a dramatic notch just along from the Leh Palace is a poplar tree decorated with prayer flags [JK : Leh : Just along the ridge about level with the Palace]

 

Leh Palace Ridgeline Trees
Set in a dramatic notch just along from the Leh Palace is a poplar tree decorated with peace, wisdom, compassion and strength – prayer flags.

The list is not over yet, we will keep adding.
The valley of Kashmir is decorated with many such heritage deciduous trees that bring cheer to people who live there. With a lot of trees facing the axe in the Kashmir valley these days, we need to increase awareness of the effects of tree felling on our environment.

Lots of thanks to Landmark Trees of India in helping us with the list of heritage trees of Jammu and Kashmir.
Wondering how to spot the trees? Fear not, we’ve got you covered:
Landmark Trees of India

10 Real- Unusual- Heavenly Pictures from Kashmir

10 Real- Unusual- Heavenly Pictures from Kashmir

 

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”- Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

Kashmir is heaven on earth. No doubts! But what makes it beautiful? Its landscape scenic beauty? Snow covered length? Or Sun drenched sky?

“Well, it is the human eye!

It’s in the eye of the seeker,

In the soul of the bearer.

Because what is beauty but truth,

What is heavenly but snood?”

Surely, the splendidness of the beauty of Kashmir can’t be described in words, nor can it be recited in verse. But through this article, I have tried to put forward an unusually beautiful part of our valley in the form of photographs picked up from Instagram profiles of various people- each with a different perspective and lens.

 

The journey to heaven begins:

  1. The Blue Sky

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

Kashmir is generally covered in clouds and snow and sunlight skipping beats in between of clouds. But rahul_gallery has a different story to tell. His picture defines beauty of departure in the form of love between dawn and the night.

  1. The Streets and Sheep

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

This photographer, sneha_ailsinghania writes the story of the greenery of the month of june in her photograph. She captures the herd of sheep, their beautiful flowing hair, quest to reach leaves on trees, and in it, embraces the beauty of Kashmir.

 

  1. The Snow Sloppy Fields

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

Yamini.1gupta decides to take on the candid. The candid trees that tilt a little, the sun that looks like a huge focus light and the snow slope that defines a bit of field is the basic couture of her photograph.

 

  1. The Greens of Dal

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

 

No sun setting pictures of Shikaras, no flower dressed shores! thepioneerofthenorth0822’s definition of Dal Lake is a common Kashmiri man taking his Shikara through an untouched and yet beautiful stream of the lake.

 

  1. The Heartland- Gulmarg

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

I am exceptionally in awe of Gulmarg and its beauty. Seen it, been in it and with it; but never have a picture expressed Gulmarg in an omniscient manner. Kashmir7888 has discovered this this lens of the valley and no words justify its beauty!

 

  1. The Winds of Winter

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

The dark is beautiful in Kashmir, because the white snow shines through the trees. This amazing- amazing picture from amazingindia_ explores the real winter in Kashmir.

 

  1. The Shadows and Land

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

101india has never failed to identify most uncommon aspects of India and so it does justice here. Five shadows, shades of ethnic surreal land and Kashmiri Sufi getup; what else does one require to soak their eyes with magnificence?

 

  1. The Confused Chaos

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

There is beauty in chaos, charm in confusion and it is only at Dal Lake that one can witness this fusion. captivatingkashmir captures an equally charming picture of Shikaras, mingled and tangled in each other, which is in fact the real beauty of the lake.

 

  1. The Tip of the Top

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

The crescent valley of Patni Top tatters its road in snow, and what comes out of it is only awe. in.prateek captures a chilling moment in the valley that many have dream to witness. The mist and the snow is the blur that defines it all.

  1. The Divine Divinity

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

reeneta_dutta’s genius of photography has made every bit of the sky, free birds and their shadows on ground speak the language of divine. Even the Dargah Sharif must have smiled to this scenic scenery.

 

Feel free to share your views on the photographs and share with us more such unusual captures.

Heart-Warming Stories from the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir

Heart-Warming Stories from the State of Jammu and Kashmir

This year as India celebrated its 72nd Independence Day let us remind ourselves that ‘Unity in diversity’ is something that has always been our first identity and a matter of our pride. With India celebrating its Unity in diversity we bring you heart-warming stories of communal harmony from the most diverse state.

Kashmiriyat’ is the symbol of unity in diversity through centuries that embodies the philosophy of amity, love, inclusiveness and tolerance. You’ll be overwhelmed to see the mutual love and brotherhood every Kashmiri has. Why are we ignoring the existence of a Kashmiri brotherhood? May be because the agenda of a few media is to show communal violence, and the reality of Kashmir and its Kashmiriyat and the many good things happening around the corner are often being ignored.

We keep reading instances of communal violence therefore any story that depicts that there is still hope is termed as ‘a rare display of communal harmony’. But here we bring some stories from Kashmir that suggests that the country has not yet come to the sorry pass and a few cannot change the DNA of India which celebrates and embraces diversity.

We Are Not Just Kashmiri Pandits or Muslims, We Are a Family
Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir have always expressed their love and respect for one another and have always valued them as part of the Kashmiri society. In difficult times they stood beside each other like a pillar and even as the times changed to happier ones as true friends they stuck around.

Let us lift the veil and celebrate the real unity in diversity.

Anwar Mir and Chaman Lal

Anwar Mir and Chaman Lal’s friendship

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Chaman Lal, a Kashmiri Pandit stays in Zainapora village of South Kashmir’s Shopian district. Like many others he did not migrate to Jammu in the 90s. With the passage of time Chaman Lal turned blind due to some eye complications.
Since then, the residents of Zainapora village, mostly Muslims, had been helping Chaman Lal in his daily chores.
Amongst his neighbours is Anwar Mir, a youth hood friend of Chaman Lal. In this sighted world that is always a challenging place for those living with sight loss, Anwar Mir has been a pure example of ‘a friend in a need is a friend indeed’. For the past 30 years Anwar has helped Chaman Lal in his daily chores. From taking stroll in the surroundings to visiting him daily everyday their special bond is a lesson for all of us.

While Anwar says,
I visit him every day. It is a routine for me. Lal puts his arm on my shoulder and we take a stroll around the streets. The same streets and shop fronts where we used to discuss our future some four decades years ago.

Chaman Lal says,
I was not blind by birth. It happened some 30 years ago but I’ve never felt insecure here. My friend is helping me here to move around. I was born here. I lived my life here and I will die here. Mir is always there in any kind of situation. If I have to go to a medical shop my friend helps me out. He is always there.

The local residents of the village to are a witness to the gentle breeze of this religious harmony and says,
Their 40-years of long friendship is a lesson for all of us. It purely is an example that a ‘friend in a need is a friend indeed.

Muslims attending last rites of a Kashmiri Pandit

Lending a Helping Hand in the Final Journey

In a belief that no one should walk their last journey alone, Muslim residents of Kulgam district of South Kashmir performed the last rites of Janki Nath, the only Kashmiri Pandit living among 5000 Muslims in Malvan, Kalgam. Janki Nath refused to leave the valley when all others in his family fled under threats. Therefore when he died he had no family member to perform his last rites.
Though many of us would call it a rare gesture, but his neighbours who described him as their brother thought it was their responsibility to perform the last rites of the deceased.

In another instance of communal harmony and brotherhood, residents of Sheikh Mohalla in Maharaj Gunj, defied the army curfew and stepped out of their homes to help perform the last rites of a Kashmiri Pandit woman.

It is worthwhile noting that while people who read such positive news are shocked at first, but the valley has witnessed such heartwarming ‘Kashmiriyat‘ for decades and this bodes well for the future of Kashmir.

Kashmiri woman and her husband braved a curfew to get food across to her Pandit friend.

Walking miles to feed a starving friend

A Muslim couple braved a strict curfew and walked through the violent streets to bring food for their starving Pandit friends. As they received a call from their friend that they were running out of food, Zubeda Begum and her husband risked their lives and defied the curfew imposed in Srinagar with a sack full of food to their Hindu friend in Jawahar Nagar.

She (Diwanchand Pandit’s wife and Zubeda Begum’s friend) called me in the morning, saying her family needed food supplies. They have an ailing grandmother staying with them. I am taking the food to them. It is difficult but we are trying to reach them,” Zubeda Begum told the Daily Mail.

Everyone is suffering here. We are so glad that these people came here. This is where humanity lies,” grateful Pandit was quoted as saying

According to the couple, the risk and effort of their long walk were paid for with the warmth they received after reaching the doorstep of Diwanchand’s house in Jawahar Nagar.

This is where humanity/Kashmiriyat lies. It helps you stay positive and help others in the face of adversities.

Here were just a few instances where the spirit of humanity shinned brighter. We are confident that there are more such sunshine stories of communal harmony against the rumours of communal violence that continue to haunt and we will bring them forward.

Kashmir – the perfect destination for your monsoon vacation

Kashmir – The Perfect Destination for Your Monsoon Vacation

Celebrating Monsoon Showers

From the mountains to the sea, the rain awakens every landscape and enhances the beauty of nature. Rain refreshes the mind and the soul. Monsoon in India is the most beautiful season and much-awaited for. Monsoon in India is not only about romancing the rain; it is an answer to the farmer’s prayers, a celebration of festivals and a reason to make special monsoon delicacies.

Just like the rest of India, the misty Himalayan range looks magnificent during rains. And if you’re desperately planning to run away from the crawling traffic and flooded roads with potholes, to rejoice joyous moods of green meadows, colorful flowers, chirping birds, lakes and rivers brimming with sparkling water and white and grey clouds painting the sky then Kashmir is where you ought to be!

That being said, there is also no official monsoon in Kashmir, but rainy days come in July and August turning ‘Jannat’ from beautiful to mind-blowingly gorgeous. The silver-grey clouds hanging on the lofty Himalayan peaks, the gurgling river flowing through the mountain towns, drops of water hanging from the evergreen pine branches after they’ve enjoyed the showers gives it a picture-perfect postcard setting.

Fall in Love with Disarmingly Charming Jammu & Kashmir, this Monsoon!

Jammu and Kashmir

The weather here is perfect – not humid, not cold nor warm. During the dry hours of the day take a short walk with the light breeze around the river Jhelum and exceed every expectation that you had. Browse the boutiques on the main road and discover a vibrant range of Sarees, Suits, Kurtis, Dresses and accents. Lend the cloudy grey skies some bright and beautiful colors of your own to spruce up the rainy days. Do not forget to pick up fabrics that are nothing less than perfect for the rainy days. By the time you are done shopping a gentle rain drizzle starts on your, smell the cool and damp air and unlike most locals if you’ve failed to remember to carry an umbrella with you, head back to the hotel. While the drizzle breaks into a heavy downpour after half an hour, grab a chair and sit beside the window overlooking the river and you can just spend hours watching dark clouds slowly turning the perfectly blue sky grey, adding a layer of mystery around. Pen down few lines as the rhythm of the falling rain brings out the hidden poet in you or just simply stare at all the beauty around you. A good friend would be a steaming hot cup of ‘Kahwa’ along with some crisp hot ‘pakodas’. Kahwa builds immunity against water-borne diseases and would double your happiness as you enjoy the downpour of rain by the window.

What is a cloudy, rainy day without a cup of coffee? Venture out of your hotel in the evening to a nearby café to enjoy the cozy and beautiful combination. Goodfellas café on the banks of the Jhelum would be a perfect place that offers a blend of perfect food, art and entertainment. Brighten up the rainy days with freshly brewed coffee and the café music playlist. Keep up the monsoon spirit and increase resistance by munching on dry fruits as healthy between-meal fillers.
When the night starts to fall, the bed starts to call. Tuck yourself in the bed with a book, or a soothing music and get a good night sleep with the rain pouring in the background.

Dal Lake, Kashmir

Take a Shikara ride on a rainy day and let the fresh air blow your hair slowly and the wet wind kiss your cheeks. Feel like a model while nature does the photography! Nature accepts you instantly; it welcomes you in like one of her own. Need not worry, the cute curtains on the sides will keep you fully covered, come rain or sunshine. Peaceful and serene!

Mustard fields, Kashmir

Get lost in the breathtaking Himalayan panorama, tall conifers, acres and acres of saffron and golden mustard fields, romantic houseboats and overall sublime appeal of Kashmir.

Irrespective of water logging, wet times, these are the much awaited flavours that you will crave in this season.

The munar brothers, wood carving, experts of wood carving

The Expert Wood- Carvers of Kashmir

The experts of wood carving in kashmir

 

“Beauty is truth; truth beauty”,

said John Keats and it stands apt for the luminous arts and craft culture of Kashmir. The first thought that crosses one’s mind while witnessing art in Kashmir is of awe as the unique and enchanting crafts synchronise with the beauty of our valley. While Kashmir is famous for various things, the most known are the astonishingly beautiful Pashmina shawls, most keenly knitted carpets, and various handicrafts like Papier Mache, etc.

One of the finest talents of crafting in Kashmir is Wood Carving. It is one of the oldest craft in the history of the world, but exceptionally unique to Kashmir. Why? With its ornamental and delicate aspects, it achieves its individuality due to the use of Walnut Tree wood for carving. Kashmir is one of the few places where walnuts grow, thus making Walnut Wood carving an extraordinary craft in Kashmir.

Wood carving is an extremely difficult craft and takes years of hard work to master. We are blessed with two such master artists, namely, Abdul Ahad Muran and Mohammad Yusuf Muran. The Muran brothers are the oldest Kashmiri wood-carving artists who have been carving beauty from the wood from more than 50 years.

Our talented artists were tragically born dumb and deaf but Allah made no mistake in blessing them with the creative hands and minds. Abdul chacha, who is 72 years old and Yusuf Chacha, who is 56, are Allah’s gifts to Kashmir. Both of them are tremendously good at conceiving and executing the art of wood carving.

The brothers do not let their disability, health or age hinder their work and have recently begun working on some major projects. Abdul chacha has taken up on craving a Mughal- Era wall hanging that does justice to the minute details of king and queen sitting in their palace garden. On the other hand Yusuf Chacha’s project will transcend you to 15th century’s Kashmir. It has all the subtle representation that represent the art of valley: A woman on the spinning wheel, a man weaving shawl, another man grinding spices and the last man with a hookah. These projects are huge and will get much praises from admirers, as the proud son, Mudasir Munar, of Abdul Chacha says, “You cannot spot a single mistake in their work”. Mudasir sells the carved woods made by his father and uncle in the markets in the valley, which is vastly known among the locals as well as visitors, as the fame of Munar brothers has reached beyond oceans. They are also internationally known for their art of wood carving.

 

wood carving in kashmir, the muran brothers

 

The Muran family has an ancient history in wood carving. Abdul and Yusuf chacha fall in the fourth generation of the family and are successfully keeping the tradition as well the almost dying art of wood carving alive. As their fame grew, the art also rode upon the roller coaster of recognition internationally. There is no a single artefact that they can’t perfect in. From carving animals, Hindu mythology gods and goddesses to the portraits of inspirational leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, the brothers have mastered their hands in all forms. They have successfully created the replica of a Hangul (Kashmiri Deer) to gift an US based NGO and carved the miniature replica of Srinagar’s Jamia mosque for the Iranian Ambassador.

 

wood carving in kashmir, the muran brothers

 

The only tragic part to this glorious art is the fear of its extinction. The young generation needs to pay heed to such rich traditional art form of Kashmir and carry forward its lineage. It saddens the Muran brothers to see their art form fade.  Unfortunately, due to old age, their health is challenge. Even though the artists die and their art lives forever, Kashmir will always fear the loss of its people.

Through Kashmiri Life, we aim to showcase the talent of our elderly artists and create awareness about the art of Walnut Wood Carving itself. Kashmir is blessed with the Walnut Tree wood and talented people, let’s combine them to keep tradition and the creativity alive.

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?