What is the first question that comes to your mind when you think of taking a vacation…which place to go to?
When I encountered such a situation, I planned a trip to Kashmir valley- the heart of India or some of us might call it heaven on earth.
I visited Kashmir with my family during the summer of 2016. We had already booked the trip through a travel agent. We reached Sheikh-ul-Alam International airport and as planned we had a Cab waiting as soon as our flight landed. So our trip began. The driver was a local and knew every little detail and all the famous things to try while we were on the trip. We had booked a houseboat in the famous Dal lake. We went for a Shikara ride exploring the market situated on the edge of the lake and also in the middle of the lake. That’s quite awesome, right? Little vendors take their boat and sell everything from daily requirements to flowers to saffron. Even after this, there is no garbage or littering in the lake which makes it quite clean and clear. The people in Kashmir are way too friendly with the tourists which makes the trip even more pleasing. We spent the chilly evening eating maggi , drinking tea and taking a lot of pictures of the beautiful sunset.
next day, we woke up and packed our bags for a magnificent road trip to Pahalgham- the most beautiful spot in Kashmir. The most popular spot is Betaab Valley and is famous for shooting of various music albums and bollywood movies in the past. It is the perfect spot for nature photography and professional photographers are very rare to find there. Me being a nature lover, took some pretty amazing photos from my Iphone . We had a room reserved in a hotel there. Aru valley is another beautiful spot in the region. The view of Lidder river surrounded by big , green pine trees is breathtaking. One can watch snow peaked mountains from Pahalgam which make it bone-chilling even in summer.
The crows there are gigantic by eating pears and all the dry fruits especially walnuts. We also visited Chandanwari which is the starting point for Amarnath Yatra. Proper safety arrangements were made for the people going on the yatra by the Indian Army.
After an amazing stay in Pahalgam , we returned back to Srinagar and explored local and lovely places in the city. One of them being the Shalimar Bagh with beautiful collection of fauna. It is the perfect place chilling on a sunny afternoon and capturing the perfect shot of different flowers on your camera. Dal lake is situated right in front of the garden which gives it a marine drive look at night. We also visited Chashme shahi, a mughal garden built on the order of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It is a Kashmiri hut with water flowing down from top of the hut inti a fountain pool.
Pari Mahal was our next stop. Pari mahal, a fairy palace where Shahjahan’s elder son killed his brother for throne. It has got a beautiful view of the city line from the roof of the palace.
Next day we took a car ride to Sonmarg, meaning “Meadow of Gold”. And boy! Was it a dangerous road. It was a thrilling experience. On the way to Sonmarg, you will see bike riders with their Harley Davidson and Royal Enfield heading towards Ladakh. It is a challenging road for the riders. The beauty of nature will bind you as you will see various types of mountains on the way like snow covered mountains , mountains with zero vegetation, green mountains etc. On our way, we found some traffic as a large no. of army trucks were on their way to the border.
We reached Zero Point in Sonmarg after a tiring journey. The temperature was dropping way too low and we were freezing, so we rushed to our taxi and put on our jackets. We did snow trekking and admired the exceptional beauty of mother earth. Sleigh ride is a common activity to do besides trekking. After having some fun and clicking some pictures we headed back at dusk and returned to our hotel in Srinagar.
I’ve saved the best for the last. You’re going to love it. Here it goes: On another beautiful morning, we tied our laces and fastened our seatbelts for the most astonishing place i could imagine- Doodhpathri- the mini Switzerland of India.It was our last day in the state and we wanted it to be the best, therefore as planned it was like sweet dish at the end of the meal.
It is not that much crowded because most people don’t know about this hill station and you can spend some alone time with your thoughts lying on the bank of river listening to the magical voices of the trees, mountains and rivers. Cold breeze was blowing . It was so peaceful that the sound of the river calmed my soul and no kidding, it was soul satisfying. It was a experience of a lifetime.
We also trekked after lying around for a while. The forest was very dense and we trekked to the top of the mountain. It was a long way up but we were fully energized because of the breeze blowing. There is something magical about that place that i fell in love with. One can only experience such a thing by visiting such a less explored station.
And for those who think it is not safe to visit kashmir- yes it is a little risky but after doing a background check you can go there as the safety is very good as Army and BSF is posted at every corner.
Our trip came to and end after visiting this dreamy place. I didn’t want to leave as my heart was stuck in admiring this beautiful valley but i knew i was not going empty handed, i had a bag full of memories and a head full of hopes that I would cherish forever.