Pahalgam – Aru – Kokernag – Daksum, Sinthan Top, KishtwarTime taken: 9 hoursWe woke up early, went to the taxi stand, and took a cab for Aru.In Pahalgam, unless you have a private car, you are not allowed to drive a self rental, or take any other state’s cab to other tourist places like Aru, Betab etc.The drive is beautiful. And Aru was even more beautiful. We took walks, had breakfast and spent some leisurely time there.
KishtwarI spent 2 days in Kishtwar doing almost nothing. The bike got a well-deserved breather. Apart from a twice-a-day, 2-odd kilometre ride to the local marketplace to grab some food and an even shorter one in order to get her washed, she was left to be.For the first time in a long time, I had the chance to be lazy too (by my standards). The most strenuous activity I undertook during those 2 days was a constant three-way battle between my mobile phone, its charging cable and yours truly. About a week before, my phone had started acting up because of a loose connection in its charging dock. This meant that the phone would initially only charge when the charging cable was placed at a certain angle. This progressed to a situation where it charged only when a weight was placed on top of the part where the cable meets the phone, and by the time we reached Kishtwar it was so bad that it would occasionally charge if I was constantly holding the cable and the phone at a specific angle, and this too would work temporarily. The angle was not fixed, and I remember spending several hours hearing nothing but the beep notifying that charging had begun promptly followed by the one that let me know it had ceased to charge. The noise was so constant that it continues to haunt me effortlessly until this day. No phone meant no mobile camera. This was going to be a problem. So, when I did eventually manage to get it charged, I put it on aeroplane mode so that the charge would be retained for longer. It would from here on cease to be used as a phone and would instead only serve as a camera.When I wasn’t pre-occupied by the battle with my mobile phone, I would walk out to the open ground across the road from where we were staying. The locals referred to this place as a ‘park’ when, in reality, it was more like a sprawling meadow. Apart from being incredibly beautiful, it was a fascinating place to be because it seemed to be the go-to-location in this town. At dawn, it was overrun by the ‘morning-exercise’ brigade. Hundreds of people getting in their morning session of socialising, while a little bit of exercise happened incidentally. The place would be swarming with walkers effortlessly dodging the dollops of horse and sheep dung that was generously deposited all over (or maybe they weren’t dodging it?) without looking down or breaking conversation. The central area was reserved for the more ambitious fitness afficianados, namely those showcasing the progress made in their pursuit to tame a challenging yoga asana, and (my personal favourites) the exponents of deep-breathing exercises. For those who don’t know what deep-breathing exercises are, it’s a cloak provided in order to allow practitioners to not only get away with making weird faces and awful noises in public places but also get to feel good by deeming themselves to be part of the community that actually does physical exercise. Later in the day, the meadow would transform into a cattle-trading market of sorts. Hundreds of horses and thousands of sheep grazed aimlessly, whilst their human folk transacted business on the sidelines (this explained the poop situation). By evening, it would be taken over by the youngsters playing football, cricket and just about anything else that caught their fancy.he
Headquarter of Padder Valley in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.