As a travel agent, it’s not uncommon that I need to travel often. However, the recent visit to valley of Kashmir was little more special. I believe ‘Kashmir’ does not need any introduction, hence, I am going ahead with out doing so.
Initially, our team planned for a trip in the month of March (last days of snow), but it was later postponed to April mid. Normally, it’s onset of spring in April. The plants, trees, fields, gardens all seem to be welcoming you on a fresh note. Ah! Spring is my favorite season to visit the beautiful Kashmir.
The cars were adequately fueled, bags packed and hopes raised as we were about to start our journey, the next day. We packed some woolens too, as it was sill cold weather there. As we started from our homes, heavy rains welcomed us all through the way to Kashmir. It was just not looking like Spring Season as we stepped into the valley 😦 We consoled ourselves, some how and prepared our agenda for the next day.
Some of our guests had arrived in Srinagar. We went to see them at a luxury House Boat, which was pre-booked by us. The House boat was prominently located on the very famous Dal Lake. Dal Lake is the most happening location in Srinagar with a number of hotels on the one side of lake, parallel to the row of house boats, that are made to stand in the Lake. Luckily, that day was a sunny day :). The scintillating view of the lake surrounded by mountain ranges, acted as retreat to our senses. The shining Sun created a golden castle as its rays struck against the water of the lake. The very spiritual vibes started flowing though our body as we observed the Shankracharya Temple standing tall on one peak, facing The Hari Parbat Fort on the other side of the lake. The both shrines hold sanctity in Hindu Religion, and formed important parts of the lives of Kashmiri Pandits who once inhabited the valley in pre-migration era. We felt, what a beginning! 🙂
After making the guests comfortable, we headed to our next agenda for the day. In the evening, weather went worse and it poured again, and continued to pour for the next full day. As we again passed through the Boulevard Road (the road beside Dal Lake), we observed the peaks that were not snowy a couple of days ago, showed signs of fresh snow fall. Soon, we realized, that it could be a wonder time in Gulmarg, where we were supposed to go the following day.
Gulmarg is among Asia’s top ten skiing resorts, located 64 km from Srinagar, at an elevation of 2690 m. It’s world famous for winter sports, like skiing, sledging etc. The resort also draws its attention from the Gulmarg Gondola, which is one of the highest cable car rides in the world (reaching 3979 m). We were stunned as we saw that we could barely locate our ways, hotels that we wanted to see. The meadows had just remained thick white, covered with snow. The sledge business was on high as it was difficult to reach hotels on foot, as the entrance was completely lost in snow. For sure, it was a sight to remember for life as we were standing in Gulmarg in middle of April! The tourists felt themselves luckier as they never expected such a snowy sight 🙂 We decided to move on to Srinagar for over night stay.
Three days had passed, and we were looking forward to have one more sunny day in the coming days. It was fourth day, and our chance to visit a place called Budgam, located 28 km from Srinagar. The Budgam is center to many less- explored tourist places like Yousmarg, Doodhpather, Charar-e-Sharief, Neil Nag etc. Our host in Budgam was a well known figure in the area. As we were new to this place, we let him decide our itinerary for the day 🙂
Around noon, we started towards Yousmarg, about 32 km from Budgam. The road to Yousmarg went through a valley. It was the first time through our visit that we could actually feel the call of “Spring”. Our eyes stunned, senses expanded as we were told that the whole valley just comprised of the almond trees. Wow! So many! We could not hold our cameras back from capturing the sight of the trees just blossomed with lovely pink flowers. Spent a considerable time there till, it was time to move ahead. We stopped by at a Dargah called “Charar-i-Sharief”. Charar-i-Sharief is considered one of the most sacrosanct Muslim shrines in India. The Shrine of Charar-i-Sharief is approximately 600 years old, popularly known as the “Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali”.
From then on, the vegetation changed as we began to gain height. There were tall, thick pine trees on either sides of the road. The view was beautiful, air was fresh and climate, cold. There came Yousmarg, half green (well, pale green) and half white, very much looking like a painted sketch. A small lake in the beginning, appealed us, with clear reflections of snowy and green shades. This was picture perfect sight! The kids were busy playing with clean white snow while we enjoyed some refreshments at govt. owned cafeteria. Yousmarg also has accommodation facilities owned and managed by tourism department. Little later, we started back taking this natural scenery in our mind and a burning desire to come back to enjoy nature’s bounty.
Like Yousmarg, there are many such places waiting to be explored, to be known, to be lived. The next on agenda are- Doodhpather, Doodh Ganga, Verinag, Shopian, Gurez.
Hope the mystic land of Kashmir calls back soon! Till then, we live it through our guests who travel almost every day, with Enjoy Unlimited Holidays 🙂