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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 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?

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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/)

TULIP

Asia’s Largest Tulip Fest Starts From 1st April in Jammu and Kashmir!

kashmiri life | Kashmir Culture , food

 

 

Many of us might not know that the Asia’s largest Tulip garden is in India. Yes, the largest Tulip garden is situated right near the tranquil Dal Lake of Jammu and Kashmir. Spread over a land of about 12 hectares, this Tulip garden is named after the only female prime minister of India as Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden.

The Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden, earlier known as Model Floriculture Centre, was established by Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir as an effort to boost the floriculture industry and eco-tourism in Jammu and Kashmir.
Tulip Garden Srinagar

The Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden, earlier known as Model Floriculture Centre

Encircled by the two other famous gardens (Nishat Bagh and Chashma Shahi garden) of Jammu and Kashmir, the Tulip garden, opened in 2007, is located at the foothills of Zabarwan range.

The Asia’s largest Tulip garden offers at least 70 varieties of Tulips for tourists to wonder at. It acts as a magnet to attract thousands of tourists from all over the world especially, in the blooming months of the flowers. The best time to visit the garden is from March-May but April welcomes the maximum number of tourists following the Tulip Festival. Yes, the entire state of Jammu celebrates this different type of Holi with the different colors of Tulips every year since 2007.

Tulip Garden Jammu and Kashmir Srinagar

Tulip garden offers at least 70 varieties of Tulips for tourists

The Indira Gandhi Tulip garden which is Asia’s largest Tulip garden does not only grows Tulip but several rose beds are also cultivated, which adds to the beauty of the garden. A Tulip flower is usually 6 cm long and each Tulip consists of three petals and three sepals. The garden cultivates various shades of Tulips and some of the popular shades are orange, yellow, white, red, pink, blue and purple. These different shades of Tulips forms all the colors of a rainbow, which is the most mesmerizing sight for the tourists.

largest Tulip garden

Asia’s largest Tulip garden is in India

The Tulip festival does not only boost floriculture and tourism in Kashmir but the Kashmiri culture too. A number of cultural events take place during the festivity and different types of handicrafts are showcased as an exhibition in the festival. It is much delightful when the tourists get tired and hungry after walking on the route of 12 hectare Tulip garden, they get the privilege to taste the delicious Kashmiri cuisines at the food court.

Asia's largest Tulip garden

 Kashmiri artists perform at the Asia’s largest Tulip garden

Farooq Ahmad Shah, secretary of Tourism and Floriculture of Jammu and Kashmir said, this year the mega Tulip festival will be part of an event Bahaar-e-Kashmir which means spring in Kashmir. The festival will start on April 1 and will continue till another 15 days at the Asia’s largest Tulip garden in Srinagar.

So, don’t miss out the biggest flower festival in Asia right in Jammu and Kashmir. Go, book your tickets to Srinagar in April and enjoy the mesmerising beauty of Kashmir and have lots of entertainment with the folk music of the state.