Saturday, April 14, 2018

A piece of heaven - Kashmir – Part 1


A Farsi Couplet by Amir Khusro

Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.

Translated, it means

If there is a paradise on earth,
it is this, it is this, it is this

We, a group of 14 friends, having spent just over a week in Kashmir, have no doubt that Kashmir is, indeed, a piece of heaven on earth, where we experienced the warmth of brotherhood and unparalleled hospitality. We did not witness a single incident of violence all the time that we spent there despite what is portrayed in the media. The trip was wonderfully organised for us by ScoutMyTrip who arranged for all our transportation and accommodation at a very reasonable cost.
On arrival in Srinagar airport, we were met by the local tour guide and transported to our beautiful houseboats in the Dal Lake. After the 30+ C temperature of Mumbai, the 18C was a welcome relief. Dal is a lake in Srinagar (Dal Lake is a misnomer as Dal in Kashmiri means lake). The lake covers an area of 18 square kilometres with an average depth of 4.7 feet and a maximum of 20 feet.


After dumping our luggage in our rooms in the houseboat, we freshened up and were taken out on a


shikara ride of the Dal lake along the shops selling local handicrafts. The fun part was that while


sailing in the shikaras, we had sales pitches from shikaras alongside selling jewellery, coats and caps apart from snacks and soft drinks!

On our return to our houseboats, as we were getting ready for a sumptuous dinner, there came a shikara 



with a mobile barbecue who dished up some yummy kababs. This indeed was an unique experience for us!

Next day we set out for a tour of the beautiful gardens in Srinagar. The first one was the Chashme 



Shahi gardens built around a spring, in 1632 A.D. by Ali Mardan Khan, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s Governor. It was the Emperor’s gift for his elder son Prince Dara Shikoh.

Our next stop was the Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Gardens that was set up in 1969 in memory of our 1st Prime Minister who was fond of roses. This garden has a collection of about 150,00 ornamental 



plants apart from a huge collection of oak varieties. It also has a rare collection of Kashmiri tropical plants.

And then came the show stopper – the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip gardens! It is the largest tulip 



garden in Asia spread over an area of about 30 hectares.  The garden was opened in 2007 with the aim to boost floriculture and tourism in Kashmir Valley. It is a feast for the eyes! BSNL offers free wifi there to enable visitors to spread the beauty online! After revelling in the beauty, we had some 



some Kashmiri bread with Kahwa (Kashmiri tea) brewed in Samovars.

Next stop was Nishat Bagh, a terraced Mughal garden, built in 1633 by Asif Khan the elder brother 



of Noor Jahan. It is spread over 46 acres and overlooks the Dal Lake.


We missed out on the Shalimar Bagh, considered one of the biggest Mughal gardens. The Bagh was built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his wife Noor Jahan, in 1619.

The untimely rains prevented us from any further forays into the beautiful Baghs and drove us back to our houseboats.

This marked the end of our brief affair with Srinagar as next morning we were off to Gulmarg.

For more pictures visit my Instagram account.

28 comments:

  1. Beautifully described.Anybody reading your Blog will be literally transported to Kashmir.

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  2. Mesmerising images!!!! A Virtual droool. Lovely!!

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  3. Hari OM
    Another very fine trip, Deepak - this one is already looking extra special! YAM xx

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  4. I will love to read more Deepak
    Keep it up

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  5. Described very well. Superb photos!

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  6. Wow! that was an indepth, all encompassing eye opener of Heaven on earth Boss, in a nutshell, one in my bucket list again...

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  7. Beautiful. Brought back old memories

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  8. Great to read your Kashmir trip post. Amazing pics.

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  9. Scenic beauty, good food, friendliness and a pleasant temperature are truly hallmarks of a paradisiacal area. What more do you want? Thanks for sharing this travel section.

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  10. Sorry, I joined the party late because I completely missed reading this post all this while! I am glad we were part of an annual reunion ritual for you and your friends and that all of you had a good time too! These pictures are so alluring and inviting that it makes me head off to Kashmir right now! Been ages since we road tripped Deepak, what say we hit the road?

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  11. Nicely written, it was great reading about your Kashmir Adventure which is indeed a heavenly place and lovely pics btw.

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  12. As usual, your language just transports is to the destination. Beautifully written sir! Kashmir is truly lovely!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Deepak. Glad you liked it.

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