to Awantipora twice...
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Dal Lake is 11 km from Dharamshala and surrounded by deodar trees. The lake fills a mountain bowl. The words don't do half the justice to the real beauty of the lake. Dal lake is an enchanting and serene picnic spot where an annual fair is held in September. Apart from being thronged by photography enthusiasts, it really provided the elders with a lot of calm and peace.
Later that day, we left for Srinagar- a distance of approx. 90 km. This journey takes the same route we took while coming from Anantnag for few kilometres and then takes a short cut bypassing Anantnag town through well-kept Kashmiri villages and apple orchards. This internal road after a journey of 45-50 minutes comes out on NH-1A near town of Bijbehera. Bijbehera city is famous for the factories of bats. Everyone even little interested in cricket knows about these famous bats from Kashmir. You can stop your vehicle at any of these shops and maybe catch a live demonstration and shop for bats if interested. This time it’s the Jhelum River that gives us company along the way. After approx. 20 km from Bijbehera, we arrive at Avantipora town. Awantipora is famous for the ruins of Awantiswamin temple (dedicated to Vishnu) and Awantishwar temple (dedicated to Shiva)- both of which are in ruins today. These 8th century temples were built by Awantivarman- the king of Utpala dynasty. The Avantiswamin temple is in fractionally better state than the other and one can observe interesting sculptures of Vishnu, Ganga- Jamuna and the king himself among others. Both these temples are now protected by Archaeological survey of India. Entry fee Rs.5 for residents of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Thailand and Myanmar. For others, the entry fee is Rs. 100. Another 13km ahead from Avantipora is Pampore- famous for the saffron fields. We did some quick shopping for saffron and dry fruits at a shop there and sipped a cup of Kahwa- the Kashmiri tea prepared using saffron and almonds. October is the right season if one wants to see the flowers blooming. When we visited, the fields were dry.