Kashmir BLOG

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

Kashmir BLOG

 

“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?

Kashmiri restaurant, best kashmiri food

Best Kashmiri Restaurants across India

Best Kashmiri Restaurants across India
A cuisine is the most effective way of expressing the culture of a particular place and as Alex Atala says, “I believe that cuisine is the most important link between nature and culture”, it is also a positive utilization of the magnificent nature. Cuisine is born out of diverseness in society which works as a platform to display the traditional & cultural beliefs of a particular region. And it gradually transcends all geographical boundaries to make a name for itself. It travels fearlessly, unafraid of storms in oceans, eruption of mountains, dryness of desserts and even dense-dark forests of the world to reach people who can’t come to it.
Kashmiri cuisine just like Pashmina is a reflection of Kashmiri culture. It is loved and enjoyed worldwide. A trip to Kashmir is incomplete without the local cuisines like Tabakhmaaz, Shab Deg, Rogan Josh, Bakery tradition (known for its Baqarkhani roti), Kahwah and the multi-course meal Wazwan.
Here is a guide, more or less an experience of Kashmiri food available across our multi-cultural country. I along with my friends have travelled widely in India and we have come across some excellent restaurants that serve Kashmiri food with almost a perfection in taste. For those who want to enjoy and explore Kashmiri cuisine, here are some restaurants located in different cities of India.
1. GULFAM KASHMIRI WAZWAN, New Delhi, Delhi
Kashmiri restaurant in delhi
Delhi is widely dynamic and full of cultural diversity that makes it a hub of multiple cuisines. Gulfam Kashmiri Wazwan is a small food joint in the streets near Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah. If you are seeking really original taste of Kashmiri food, jump on to their Gushtaba and Roganjosh.
Address: Building 5, Basti, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Nizamuddin, New Delhi (+91 9899110786)
2. MATAMAAL, Gurugram, Haryanabest kashmiri restaurant in gurgaon
As we entered the Matamaal restaurant, we were taken aback by its traditional Kashmiri look and soft Kashmiri music that brushed against our skin giving us goose bumps. Unlike other restaurants, Matamaal is full on its menu with Kashmiri vegetarian dishes. And ofcourse, don’t try to forget their Mutton Kanti in non-vegetarian.
Address: 203, DLF City Court, Sikandarpur, Gurgaon (+91 9899499043)

3. AL MADINA KASHMIRI TEA, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Kashmiri tea, Noon chai, pink tea, novelty of lucknow

Are you a Tea lover? Try Kashmiri Tea (Noon Chai), the Novelty of Lucknow. The tea is prepared in a copper kettle (Kashmiri Samovar), is salty in taste, and pink in colour. The Noon chai sustains the essence of its origin and depicts the presence of Kashmiri culture in Lucknow. Find it at Al Madina.
Address: Akbari Gate Nakkhas Lko, Akbari Gate Nakkhas Lko, Chowk, Chowk, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh (+91 93352 96412)

4. ZARPAR, Jaipur, Rajasthan

best kashmiri restaurant in jaipur
Experience Kashmir in Jaipur with the fine dining of Zarpar. The theme based restaurant serves all kinds of Kashmir delicacies and is a perfect place to explore Kashmiri food. The restaurant has a wide ambience and have chosen names and places from Kashmir to describe it, e.g. Dewan Khana (The Fine Dine), Pari Mahal (The House Boat), Tasweer (The Selfie Point) etc. Zarpar is like a miniature of Kashmir in bits.
Address: 9th Floor, SDC Vinay, 38-39, Mauji Colony, Opp. Bharat Petroleum Pump,
Kelgiri Road, Malviya Nagar, Jaipur (+91-9928021666)

5. POUSH, Mumbai, Maharashtra

best kashmiri restaurant in mumbai
After a long stay in Mumbai it was Phirni in Poush that quenched my sweet tooth. I can’t seem to forget the way they made Phirni here, absolutely like in Kashmir. Also, the Mutton Roganjosh added to my satisfying meal. The serene rains of Mumbai and tempting smell of Kashmiri food totally made my visit worth a while at this amzing dinner.
Address: S-25, Floor 2, Phoenix Market City, LBS Road, Kurla, Mumbai (+91 9820113235)

6. HILTON, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

best kashmiri food in chennai
Mujeeb-ur-Rehman, the specialty chef of Kashmiri Cuisine in Hilton Hotel is a magician of cooking. Visit the hotel to experience authentic mouth-watering Kashmiri food made by him. I assure you, you will not come out of the dinner without a decision to visit it again. India is indeed incredible that even in Chennai, the essence of Kashmiri food is sustained. This serves as an appropriate example of cuisine being beyond boundaries.
Address: 124/1, Jawaharlal Nehru Rd, Poomagal Nagar, Guindy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
(044 2225 5555)

7. BULAQI KASHMIRI BAKERY, Hyderabad, Telangana

kashmiri bakery
At Bulaqi’s you will find varieties of pastries, snacks, cakes and sweets with Kashmiri touch in it. The Baqerkhani made by the bakery is delicious and well baked. You will not find the variety of desserts elsewhere in Hyderabad other than here. A perfect place for the sweet tooths.
Address: 6-2-922, Khairatabad Road, Hyderabad (+91 9885880726)

And that is where my list ends. I will write more as soon as I get to explore. Also, let us know about your experiences at these places if you ever visit them. We at Kashmiri Life will look forward to your responses.

header

Solo Women traveler’s guide to get the best out of Kashmir

“Kashmir is everything that you read in the papers and see in the news channels, but oh it is so much more.”
Kashmir is so much more than you watch on TV; it’s not just me, this is a solo traveller Kanika Gupta, who took to a social travel platform to share her story in her blog titled ‘How Safe is Kashmir’.
Not only her, you’ll be surprised to know that there are many women travellers who’ve enjoyed their solo trip to Kashmir over the past few years. Just like there is a fearful anticipation of a place called ‘Paradise’, Kashmir, true to its name is one of the few places that can fill you with dread and anticipation at the same time. Once you come back from Kashmir, you’ll  not only miss it but also live it every day through your memories just like a beautiful story. That’s what Kashmir is – an experience that grows on you. Ok ok, enough of me bragging about my home, my place; my Kashmir. Now let me help you with some planning that would guaranteed to improve your travel experience in Kashmir.Ready. Set. Go! Brace yourself for this amazing journey to Kashmir and its Kashmiriyat – the culture, people, and the love.dal lake kashmirStay near Srinagar’s iconic and safe Dal Lake. While staring at the mirror-calm waters and its picturesque terrain, you’ll realize why it has been an inspiration for painters through decades.  A joy ride in a Shikara is worth your time and money.

 

jamia masjid srinagar

Spend a few cool hours in the manicured lawns of peaceful Jamia Masjid, Srinagar.

 

tulip garden

Let the burst of colours and the sheer variety of flowers in bloom make you smile. Gasp out loud at the sight of the Tulip Garden in Srinagar.

 

downtown srinagar

Explore downtown Srinagar. Our always helpful locals and a group of canines can snap you out of any kind of bad mood faster than you can think of.

 

Inline 2 _ Kashmiri hospitality

Accept the invite of a Kashmiri family and the warm hospitality will melt down your heart; something very rare to find in media.

kahwa

Get a taste of the world-famous Kashmiri Kahwa served with warmth. You can also visit the exquisite Tea Room, ‘CHAI JAAI’, Srinagar and sip on some great tea.

 

Iftari

If you are fortunate to be in Kashmir during the month of Ramzan break your fast with locals at Iftar.

 

zabarwan hills

Have you ever felt troubled and excited at the same time? Feel two emotions while experiencing the view of setting sun with the Zabarwan hills in the back drop.

 

habba khatoon

Do some soul-searching at the edge of India, Habba Khatoon .Let the beauty take your breath away.

 

shopping

Do some shopping because like Kashmir, each handicraft piece is unique.

 

kashmiri costume

Be a ‘Kashmir ki Kali’ and get your photos clicked in Kashmiri costume.

 

kashmiri kids

Let your favourite souvenir from Kashmir be this photograph with cute kids of the hills, Sonamarg.

 

pahalgam

Walk in the ‘as cold as ice water’ at Pahalgam.

 

doodhpatri

Discover the unexplored jewel called Doodhpathri. Feast your eyes on the velvety green meadows that look like a green carpet.

 

kyber_gulmarg_spa

Take a dip in this hot pool at The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg in the backdrop Snow Mountains with freezing cold temperatures outside.

(Image and Text Source: Gyawun)

I can bet, from the day you return, you will start recommending everyone to visit Kashmir- the heaven at least once in their lives. Such is the magnetism of the place that it will imprison your heart into its memories forever.

We at Kashmiri Life strive to bring out the best  of Kashmir so that next time whenever you start researching about Kashmir on Google you’ll not only get horror stories of curfews, crackdowns, terrorist attacks, stone pelting but a fairer image of a helpful, hospitable, affectionate, humane image of the city.

Come share your experiences of your visit to Kashmir with us!

(All Image Source: http://lifeoutside2by2.com/)

Kashmir

Ramzan in the Chinar Shade, Kashmir

The blessed month of Ramzan is here.
Ramzan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and begins with the sighting of the crescent moon. This month has a charm of its own and like everywhere else; the incredible spirit of Ramzan is observed with great vehemence and zeal here in Kashmir.
If you are hoping to know about our Ramzan in Kashmir, we’ve got you covered.  Here are a few basics for a perfect Kashmiri Ramazan and if you are a Kashmiri, you can relate to following things:

 

sehar kha

 

The ‘human alarm’ for residents of Kashmir – The Sehar Khans.
As you know, Ramzan is a month of fast and prayer. Every day from dawn to sunset we observe fast, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Waking up for sehri or the pre-dawn meal while the whole place is cloaked in darkness is a test of the strong will power of Ramzan fasting. But it feels good when you know you are not alone in this. “Waqhtey Sahar!” In the wee hours of the morning, voluntary drummers pierce the silence that wraps the dark valley waking up people for sehri. They are the ‘Sehar Khans’ – the human alarm clocks for residents of Kashmir.

 

How can we forget, recently there was a viral video of a Sikh man waking up Muslim neighbours for Sehri in Jammu and Kashmir’s, Pulwama. This is ‘Kashmiriyat’; this is the communal harmony that has existed in the Paradise for centuries.

 

rice

 

What is a ‘Sehri’ without some rice?
In Kashmiri psyche, rice is a staple. Our Sehri (the pre-dawn meal) is considered incomplete without rice. Followed by rice is our love for ‘gulabi chai’ or ‘pink tea’. The tea is accompanied by the geow-dar csot (bread made with ghee), a Ramazan speciality in Kashmir, made only during this month.

“It is Ramzan” is a common refrain in the Valley.
A regularly recurring phrase during the month of Ramzan. “It is Ramzan and you are making us wait?” or “How can you overcharge during Ramzan?” or “I do not want to fight, it’s Ramzan.”

 

beggars

 

A beggar at our door.
Giving has always brought out the best in people and the month of Ramzan is all about that. Since charity and giving is an integral part of this month, there’s a knock every now and then on your door and no points guessing who it is, beggars. Happens all the time in the Valley.

 

pudding

 

The ‘Dessert of the Month ‘goes to…Phirni!

The all-time favourite snowy phirni is made and offered exclusively for the family and also send to masjid and relatives. The month of Ramzan is arguably the favorite month to indulge in this extremely popular rice pudding. Mom prepares phirni and halwa, made of ghee (clarified butter) for breaking the day-long fast.

 

witing for iftar

 

Waiting for ‘Iftar’ be like..
Your eyes are somehow glued to the clock the entire day. While on other days you have no idea of maghrib prayers (prayed after sunset), during Ramadan the scene is very different. You know the exact time on the tip of your tongue and during the prayers, there’s a lot of coughing which is a signal for the Imam to finish quickly, as the most awaited part of the day is here, Iftar.

 

brabribyol drink

 

A typical Kashmiri Iftari drink – ‘Babribeoul treish’.
Basil seeds put in milk with hint of sugar, that’s how a babribyol sherbet takes its shape. The iconic drink followed by the mandatory dates and water.

 

Kannada

 

Long kandur queues.

Caution: The ridiculous long queues at kandur (bread), might make you feel like killing yourself.
This is an everyday scene in the valley during the whole month of Ramzan. To keep the table ready for iftar, residents start queuing up around noon outside the shops of the kandur, the local bread makers of Kashmir. The kandur take special orders – so visitors can get customised bread made with extra ghee, poppy and sesame seeds.

 

eid shopping

 

The crazy Eid shopping.

Eid is not Eid without some crazy shopping. We, Kashmiris, shop A LOT. How can I forget the almost not visible bakery and meat shops because of the crowd in front of them to the serious fights at the tailor shop to get your salwar stitched on time?
You’ll have to spend a couple of hours there.
Religious chants ‘Afsoos Aze Gowham Judaa, Aiy Mahi Ramzaan Alvida’ – My heart is full of sorrow, Oh! The month of Ramadan, today we part! – are common in the mosques and shrines of Kashmir during the last phase of Ramadan.

 

mehendi

 

Eid is incomplete without young girls applying mehandi. It’s a gala time for Muslims in the valley as well as around the world.

There’s an old saying, we Kashmiris eat more in the month of fasting, Ramzan, than during the rest of the year. The prayers, fasting and feasting of Ramzan leaves all of us eagerly waiting for Eid. And then before you know it, it’s Eid.

 

eid-is-here

 

May this Ramzan usher in for us a period of blessings and abundance.
There seems to be no end to the blessings in Ramzan. Allah’s Apostle (SAW) said, “When Ramzan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened.”

BLOG

Buying Kashmiri Saffron? Real or Fake?

I hear stories of an ancient land so pure.
I see photographs of bluer than blue skies
over a lake of molten gold.
I drink kahwa flavoured with almond and saffron
and add honey, sweetened by bees from the valley
– Jhilmil Breckenridge (Ballads of Kashmir)
Saffron Corm
The more one talks about the beauty of Kashmir, the more they fall in love with it. One such treasure of Kashmir is its high quality saffron. Sown in fields that appear like an innocent sun-drenched dawn, draped in the mystic of golden hue and dew, the saffron is a gift of two Sufi aesthetics who came to Kashmir in late 11th and early 12th century. While their stay, both the foreigners were caught by an ailing sickness. A local tribal man aided them by finding a cure to their disease. Both the wanderers were grateful to the native man and offered him a saffron corm as reverence. Since then, saffron, along with almonds and walnut kernels, has become synonyms with Kashmir. The major crop of saffron in Kashmir is found in the town
of Pampore, widely known as the Kesar Valley. The world’s most expensive spice is harvested by a huge number of labour that work together to extract it from the dried stigmas of a perennial plant, Crocus Sativus. The saffron crocus is found only in Kashmir, and in some parts of Spain and Iran.
saffron threads
Due to the purity of Kashmiri saffron, leading to an excessive demand, people have started selling fake saffron to the seekers. Coming from the golden land, it is my privilege to spread the awareness about it. Saffron is so versatile, it adds a rich charm to any foods, sweets and aids in diseases like cough, Alzheimer, depression, etc.; and is also often used for its beauty benefits, hence adulteration of saffron is an offense that should be addressed seriously. The expensively sold fake saffron is not even close to the aroma, colour and texture of the real one, it is rather distastefully sweet and contrasting the intense taste of real saffron. Thus, retrieved from various sources and real-personal experiences of people I have come across the following ways to identify the original saffron that hails from Kashmir.


Looks, taste and smell
 saffron
The first look of a saffron strand speaks soundly of its purity. An original saffron string will consist of an overall red coloured thread with a slight yellowish shade at the base. The first instinct to identify real saffron is its saturated red colour and then its taste. If you put a pinch of saffron on your tongue and it tastes sweet, know that you are fooled. The real saffron does not taste like anything, it’s more neutral tasting and also has a honey-bitten smell. The fresh saffron has an aroma as if dipped and soaked in honey while old saffron might lose its pungency. If so be the case, the colour and taste of Kashmiri saffron stand together to defend its purity and by keeping these three factors about saffron in mind, you can easily identify the pure one.


Water Test
Saffron water test
The Kashmiri women are best to talk to about this homely test of checking the authenticity of Kashmiri saffron like my nain (grandmother). In her numerous fairy tales from Kashmir one of them was located in a saffron field. As she began reciting it to us, she grew vehemently intense about the subject. She had told us the ultimate mantra and it starts with a bowl, half immersed in water.
Put a small amount of saffron in the bowl to see water change its colour”, she instructed.
But so can the fake one right?” I asked in child-like curiosity. To answer my inquisitive question, she explained that if the saffron is real, the water will slowly and initially turn pale yellowish and gradually a more vibrant yellow. If this happens immediately after adding saffron, it’s fake. Also, the strands of pure saffron will secure its original colour in water, whereas the fake ones will lose it. And, thus I had learned the lesson of my lifetime.
Store this enigmatic gift of nature safely in little “Dibbis” like my grandmother, and as she advised, keep them at room temperature and not refrigerators as the change in temperature might absorb its moisture. Saffron has become the victim of adulteration. Let us create more awareness about its subtlety and purity to maintain its great usage in food and medicine, honour the enigmas of nature, and to keep alive the stories of our ancestors, drenched in pure memories of Kashmir.
Kashmiri box
Buying real Kashmiri saffron has become a task in the present scenario. The sellers of fake saffron have covered the market at large. For people who cannot go to Kashmir, they can buy saffron online from websites such as Kashmiri Box (https://www.kashmirbox.com/), FabIndia (https://www.fabindia.com/), Kashmiri Bazaar (https://www.kashmiribazaar.in), etc. If you are buying saffron from physical store, ask them to take a water test to assure its purity. A simple step of heedfulness can uplift the usage of real saffron and reduce its adulteration.

Traditional Sufi songs gives way to Sufi Rock bands in Kashmir

The Valle of Kashmir is famous all over the world because of its beautiful mountainous landscape wrapped with unique culture, tradition and mostly, for it’s deeply interwoven Sufi Culture. Sufism has a great impact on Kashmir and is integral to KASHMIRIYAT.

Jammu and Kashmir is steeped in Sufi ethos, Sufi shrines, and music. There are a lot of old poets and Sufi singers whose Sufi poetry and music style has snatched hearts of people from all over the world.
But as they say, change is mandatory and every society grows through change. Rock music appeals to this current generation a lot more than classical Sufi folk.
Well, cannot stop quoting Vera Nazarian here:
If Music is a Place — then Jazz is the City, Folk is the Wilderness, Rock is the Road, Classical is a Temple.”

Contrary to the popular perception of the stone pelting Kashmiri youth are in fact dishing out hard rock. From traditional Sufi songs to Sufi rock, how perceptions of decade change over time and how the musical ideas from a given era filter through to later generations– here are some of our favourite bands from the valley.

It’s time for some rock and roll revolution in the Chinar valley.

 

There have been very renowned singers and poets who have written Sufi songs. But today’s youth listens to Rock. So we take the same Sufi lyrics and remix it with rock music and make a fusion genre called Sufi rock”, musician, BLOOD ROCKZ BAND.
A pioneer of the Sufi genre moment was formed back in 2005, by guitarist Adnan Muhammad who is the only constant member of the band. Adnan’s band reached national fame and was ranked no 1 in the battle of band in Kashmir.
Bloodrockz has also started an academy called Band Inn, where now they teach young and then eventually group them into a band.

Sufi rock music has created a powerful impact across Kashmir and this new genre of mixing Sufi lyrics with rock music has become popular among the new generation of the Valley.

Our music is our expression, our voice, we speak through our songs“, Ubaid, 23, lead vocalist and guitarist, POETIC JUSTICE.
Formed in 2004-05 by three friends – Mir Ubaid, Anees Amin and Azhar Hafiz, this band has come up in this league of growing rock culture. The band has been composing songs in English, Urdu and in Kashmiri. It has since grown with new members coming in.

Through Sufi Rock, they aim to not only revive the love for Sufiyana music and entertain people with the new trend but also channel the youths’ energy towards something more peaceful.

Our genre is Sufi-rock and alternative rock. When we first performed punk rock, people merely stared at us with blank faces. We blended our music with Sufi poetry. Since then there has been no looking back“, says Mattoo Asif, drummer, TALES OF BLOOD.
These youngsters do not see themselves as rebels. Music is their passion and also an escape.

Starting out, these aspiring musicians had to learn by observation and had to be their own teachers.

 

The more you absorb music, the more you express”, said Mohammad Muneem, lead vocalist and songwriter of the Pune-based band HIGHWAY-61.
Mohammad Muneem is Kashmiri born and has quite a following. Muneem’s fusion of Kashmiri and contemporary instruments have been featured on Coke Studio, Kappa TV and several festivals across the country. He sings about Kashmiri rearranged folklore, political churnings and the trail of destruction the two decade-long conflicts has left on the state.

Members believe in experimentation, which may or may not fall into any specific genre.

 

With influences of Nusratji, Fuzon, Kailash kher & Junoon we have that Extra edge of versatility of sub-geners and entertaining music lovers of all ages. Moreover we also are into Kashmiri Sufi Rock which is the unique of all the genres”, is the USP of ROOOH, the Sufi Rock band.
Rahul, Ashis, Shivaji, Ramesh wants to be the best Sufi rock fusion band in India and World!

Since music has changed with time, the Kashmiri youths, adapting to the transient times, have got themselves involved in this new trend of Sufi rock bands.

 

 

It stuck with us, we did three songs in Kashmiri. It was never intentional that we wanted to do Kashmiri. It just came to us naturally”, Lead vocalist Khalid Ahamed, PARVAAZ.
A Bengaluru-based band with a lead vocalist from the Valley has produced songs that struck a chord with audiences all over the country. ‘Behosh’, the band’s first extended play that featured a song in Kashmiri was a happy coincidence of the band. There’s no looking back since then. They’ve created renditions of Kashmiri folk tales and poems blended with Western percussion instruments.

With this, they aim to revive all kinds of musical activities, including sufiyana music, and entertain people with the new trend.

You can be as sanskaari as you want, but today’s audience needs something different. Through this, we are trying to keep Sufi music relevant,”

 

There is another face of Kashmir that’s the one that frowns at all that the youth represents. We also had our first all-girl Kashmiri rock band which became a Victim of mindset, PRAGAASH.

The bands are drawing lots of attention, not just to themselves, but also to the Valley.

You’re probably streaming through music in your headphones at work right now. Since music is such a big part of our lives, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you this updated list of rock bands from our very own Kashmir.  The power of music is undeniable. Every short piece of happy or sad music will lift our spirits, connect us and make us one.
Let the music will flow.

MAIN

A picture perfect Spring in Kashmir!

m

 

“Wanda tchali, sheen gali, beyiyibahar”, wrote the Kashmiri poet Mehjoor, which translates to — “winter will end, the snow will melt and again spring will come.”

While the days are getting longer and nights getting shorter and the first signs of life are coming forth after a seemingly endless pale winter it feels like God himself is breathing new life back into his creation. Each season is unique but by far spring is my favourite season.
If the main highlight of autumn in the Vale is the blushing chinars, the pale poplars and not to forget the saffron fields of Pampore, then the white-pink almond blossoms, the fresh vibrant tulips typify spring in the Valley.  Spring does not only serve as a break from the extreme winter conditions in the valley but also adds colour to the Valley, with the grey gloom of winter lifting to reveal vibrant blossoms and greenery.
My heart leaps out in joy to witness colors everywhere after the winter grays and whites and welcome the fresh colorful spring breeze.

Nature is in her finest moods in the valley now, encouraging more new buds to form and once again adding the bloom that has faded away. The entire valley is soaked in the freshness and tempting fragrance of new blooms of almonds, cherries, apples, peaches, pears, pansies, narcissi, daises etc. shooting out of their buds, strong enough to pull tourists from all parts of the world.

As the weather warms up here in Kashmir, there are many fun activities that you can add to your to-do list. Make the most of the beautiful spring if you plan to vacation in this paradise.

Tulip Garden in Kashmir


Come mesmerize your senses in the infamous Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden.

Located at the foothills of Zabarwan range with an overview of the beautiful Dal Lake is Asia’s largest spectacular Tulip Garden with over a two million colorful tulips.
Come make an amazing fragrant memory of spring in Kashmir with your friends and family.

 

m2


Enjoy a breathtaking view of Badamwari (Almond Orchard) 

The pretty blossom of an almond tree on a naked leafless stem after awakening from their winter sleep is an eye soothing view. Kashmiri almonds are famous for their sweet taste and even more famous for its pure white sheen.
Heal your soul amidst scores of beautiful almond blossoms that rests in the foothills of Koh-e-Maraan spreading over 300 acres, in Badamwari.

 

MUSTARD


The sun-gold mustard fields will make you feel the happy yellow and the lively green
To take a look at the true colour of nature, take a drive up and down the yellow carpet of happiness stretched over many patches of earth. The chinar trees standing tall in the mustard fields will caress your soul and spirit in the warmest hug as the sun shines on them.
Found on the way to Pahalgam and many other areas of Kashmir, the sun gold mustard fields is here to offer you the fresh treat of spring.
Locally known as ‘TeeliGogul’, believe me when I say, you must visit Kashmir in spring to make your heart skip a beat while you witness the stunning view!

Dal Lekh

 

Re-fresh, Re-new, Re-awake!
After a cold and harsh winter of Kashmir, spring is considered to be a season of rebirth. Along with the nature shaking off the heaviness of winter, waken up your body and soul with fresh green veggies and rich delicious fruits. Some of the best picks from spring in Kashmir are avocados, apricots, cherry and greens including chilies, coriander, cilantro, beans, collard greens, cucumbers, spring onions and a lot more.

 

 

Welcome spring with the chirps and songs of birds

“In the spring months, these birds of passage also spend some time in the valley before moving to their summer homes.” Sandhill cranes and cormorants arrive here in spring from the Indian plains to spend some time before they also migrate to their summer homes.
Orioles, cuckoos, starlings, nightingales, hoopoes, and doves arrive in spring to bring the Valley back to life with their songs and magnificent colours.

Spring has always been the season of colour and hope in the Valley.
 ‘Kashmir mesmerizes you whichever season you go. More so in spring. It is picture perfect!’

Being a Kashmiri mother

Being a Kashmiri Mother

The truth of living in times driven by media is that it loves to concentrate on the bad things in life rather than the positive ones. And as a result unlike the rest of the country, Kashmir manages to live in the headlines for mostly bad reasons that are visible to the media.
The coverage of Kashmir that the non-residents see is through a narrow lens of media, which is mainly the reason we at KashmiriLife choose to reflect on the daily life, traditions, festivals, art and culture, here at large. With the world celebrating Mother’s day on May 13th, let’s see what story Kashmir has to tell.

To start, let’s talk about our love – our mother and food. Our conversation starts with food and ends with food just as our days.
Our day starts at 5 with the pleasant Azaan heard every morning. We wake up and get ready and our ‘nun chai’ and ‘kandur chot’ (bakery of kashmir) is ready! What’s better than waking up to a scrumptious breakfast every morning? An even better lunch that follows.
Who has the time to worry about what to cook for lunch while having breakfast? Of course our mothers.Mother is the only person who’s ‘pro’ at feeding her children and constantly worries that the child needs to be fed. The one thing they’d never forget to do, is pilling on a few extra pounds on you when you come back home from the hostel as you are never fat enough for her. And let’s accept this who doesn’t crave for mom’s home-made food!

It goes without saying that mothers are creatures blessed with divine qualities of unconditional love, ability to sacrifice and Kashmiri mothers are no exceptions. They pray to the Lord to put them through all the trials instead of their children.
You’d often hear them saying things in Kashmiri like ‘Balai lagai’ ‘Rati chaep lagai’ ‘Zu panun vandai’ to their children which all in all mean ‘may all your hardships be mine’ ‘May all your mis-happenings occur to me instead’.
Though I’m not well versed in a lot of languages but, Kashmiri is definitely the most expressive and sweetest language. Here’s some heart warming phrases you’ll get to hear on a daily basis that mothers use to express love towards us, ‘Zu myon’ (My life!)  ‘Jigar’ (A piece of my heart)  Gobur myon (My loving child) and so on.

When they get mad, we are petrified of them. They scold us, threaten to the extent of ‘Naar di yiman kitaban’ sarcastically which means ‘Set your books on fire’ ,’Paei trath,tche mandchawak aes’ (May you get struck with lightning, you’ll put our name to shame) but here’s a gentle reminder, they’ll not spare anybody if they set a finger at you.
Well, these threats work great.

Nobody can match the warmth of a mother’s embrace. Remember, you never grow up for her. They’d wrap you into a huge bear hug and have a typical Koshur style of kissing. The warmth of a costly Pashmina shawl is no match for a ‘Mouji’s’ hug and kisses. The love is such that you can never miss it and it will definitely warm up your heart.

hug

Regardless of their different shades there’s nobody who makes you feel safer than mothers.
Kashmiri women are adorable! And they make really cute moms. We love them more for all of these qualities.

A very Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there! May God bless them.

Kashmir, a proud backdrop to many Bollywood movies.

While thinking of a topic for this week’s blog, I wanted to come up with a different aspect of Kashmir, since we’ve already explored Kashmiri beauty and culture a lot. Reading the same topics, again and again, may get you bored, which is also part of my plan to diversify your reading.

One day while I was watching the movie ‘Yeh Jawaani hae Deewani’ and saw ‘the trekking trip’ scene, I thought of one of the most famous and widely accredited trekking in Gulmarg, and much to my surprise I learnt that the scene that was actually passed off as Manali in the film was actually our very own Gulmarg. Can you believe it?
This is why I thought why not to write a post about the bonding of Indian movies with the most romantic, tourist-friendly destination of Kashmir.

‘The heavenly beauty of Kashmir could echo perfectly the heavenly emotion of romance’, and why not? The destination of Kashmir has served a proud background for scenes in many famous Bollywood movies.
While the likes of
“Kashmir Ki Kali’, where the scenic Dal Lake became a backdrop to the evergreen peppy song ‘Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra’,
‘Junglee’, Shammi Kapoor’s first colour film was shot majorly in the valley,
‘Jab Jab Phool Khile’ where the story revolves around a Kashmiri boatman falling in love with a tourist,
to Aap Ki Kasam, Silsila” are among others, that romanticised the valley’s natural beauty in the 1960s and 70s, let’s move on to more recent releases that you probably did not know was shot in picturesque Kashmir.

Here then, let’s take you through some of the most notable Bollywood movies set in Kashmir!

  1.       Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

An amazing blend of trek, romance and never-ending friendships create a riot of adrenaline as they set out in the breathtakingly beautiful location of Gulmarg, Kashmir and not Manali!

  1.       Highway

Did the locations of Imtiaz Ali’s, Highway get you moving? Well then, a significant portion of the film was shot in Kashmir, including Aru valley, Pahalgam and the famous Srinagar-Leh highway!

  1.       Jab Tak Hai Jaan

While the scenic beauty of especially the song ‘Jiya Re’ is evidently shot in Kashmir, amidst the beautiful green valley, and houseboats lined up, many scenes were also shot in Ladakh and Kashmir besides London.

  1.       Student of the Year

Thinking of visiting the place where the song ‘Ishq Waala Love’ was shot? Think no more, pack your bags and leave for Kashmir. Yes, the indescribably beautiful snow-covered backdrop is majorly shot in Kashmir!

  1.       Rockstar

A portion of director Imtiaz Ali’s film, Rockstar was also shot in Kashmir. From food served in the traditional tram to Nargis Fakhri’s character and traditional outfit/ jewelry, the director has gone to great lengths to present the culture and tradition of the valley.

  1.       Lamhaa

Madno, from the movie Lamhaa, was shot at various locations in Srinagar such as Pari Mahal, Dal Lake and some gardens.

  1.       Tahaan

A must watch award-winning film shot entirely in the Kashmir Valley. A story of a young Kashmiri boy and his beloved donkey set in the beautiful landscapes of Pahalgam, Kashmir.

  1.       Saat Khoon Maaf

A song from Priyanka Chopra’s Saat Khoon Maaf was picturised in the mesmerizing backdrop of Gulmarg, Jallani House and Shalimar Gardens (in Srinagar).

  1.       Yahaan

This movie was shot entirely in never-before-seen locations in Kashmir!

  1.   Fitoor

Kashmir has always remained a fan of Bollywood, and as a fan, the Valley was once again eager to welcome the film fraternity for the shooting of Fitoor. Don’t miss the awe-inspiring beauty of Kashmir shown in the love story that surpasses social divide.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever!” Bollywood doesn’t seem to get over with the everlasting infatuation with the beautiful Valle of Kashmir. The love affair has only grown stronger.
Pack your bags immediately and travel to the most breath-taking backdrop for romantic scenes in Bollywood.