A trip that will remain in my memory for ever. Kashmir is rightly called 'A Paradise on Earth'. Everyone who has been there, knows it.
Funnily enough it wasn't in our plans at all to go to Kashmir or even anywhere at all for summer break. Suffering from wilting July heat I urged my husband that we should take kids somewhere cool for a short trip. We hadn't planned anything. I thought of Shimla which wouldn't take much time out of my schedule. But a weather check turned out a rainy week prediction. My husband suggested out of the blue we opt for Kashmir.
Things moved fast. One day I was talking to DH about going and by evening we had the tickets booked and by next afternoon, excited and breathless we were landing at Srinagar. After checking in, we took off and enjoyed the shikara ride on Dal lake.
Next up was a fifteen minute stop at Chashme shahi.
And refreshing ..brr.. cold water.
The curving road went back and on towards the lake. A cool breeze had started tinged with the scent of flowers. The road wound round the water and we clicked on the lake-marks that the shikara rower and guide had pointed out.
Nishat Bagh was our next spot. Imagined the moguls roaming the grounds :)
The next day brought an uphill curving road ride to Gulmarg. The slopes were dotted with flowers. White ones looked like snow drops. Delphiniums abounded. Enjoyed the views
During the horse ride, the guide pointed out the sites for movie shots. This is where 'Hum tum ik kamre mein band ho' from film Bobby was shot according to him.
Pahalgam is not to be missed.
After the ride the day before, we were tired of and allergic to horse rides but the trail would take two hours on foot, our driver told us. Still we were brave enough to set off. However it was so steep and we were unconditioned, so were soon out of breath. Plus we couldn't make out the trail by ourselves. The villagers helped but soon the spot was totally deserted.
The trail wound continuously upward. Frightening at places as the edge of the foot wide trail dropped precariously away to running stream below. Too tightly holding on to the horse to click pics so managed only few.
At the end of a grueling half an hour we reached the mini Switzerland. Ah, sheer natural loveliness!
However, the way downward was even worse than up - at least for me! Kids told me they enjoyed it. The horses were stepping on dusty slope with steps for horses carved in spots in between the hardened roots of trees. Horses proceeded step by step following each other. Almost vertically downward or so it looked and I closed my eyes when it became too steep and just prayed. The guide brought us out to vista of Kashmir valley. We looked at it from the edge of the out-curving road.
He aimed us to go right down the dropaway edge and I could only say you mean go down where? Here? Here was no place but air. Anyway his implicit faith in the horse and obvious un-maneuverability on foot had me sighing and submitting. Again hung on for dear life. Though if you tore away to glance at the views they were amazing! Tall green trees. The running stream over the stones way down below. The green slopes. The cool still air which can't be described, only felt. The only thing was you couldn't keep from gasping at the steep downward direction. At least I couldn't. My daughter was blithe later. She thoroughly enjoyed it. And son was also pretty cool. So maybe it's just me getting old!
Then the horse suddenly seemed to go mad and walk right into the river. While I panicked the guide was insouciant as ever. I realized belatedly the animals needed watering.
Later we had to stop for rafting. Which was really out of this world! So much fun. Here's a short video.
On the way back our driver took us to apple gardens.
He asked us if we had tried kehwa, the Kashmiri tea and we said yes, over at Nehru park in the lake. But he sneered at that and took us to a stall by the numerous dry fruit shops lining the road. It was indeed quite different there, tasting great with the crushed almonds, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron and other spices. We went in the shop and bought dried figs and blackberry. Also saffron which Pampore is famous for.
The next morning we went to Shankaryacharya temple. The only pic I have is the sighting we did from Dal Lake as camera wasn't allowed inside.
All in all it was a great trip. Here's some shopping I did. Though I was short of time to do much.
So how did you spend your vacation? Do share.