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.
Sringar also boasts of a very diverse religious representation along with it's incomparable natural and scenic beauty. I was pleasantly surprised to visit temples, mosques and gurudwaras in close distances of each other. Yet, the beauty and exclusivity of each was better than the other and in a league of it's own. I first visited the Shankaracharya Temple, also known as Takht-e-Suleiman. It was constructed in 371 B.C. and as such is the oldest shrine in Kashmir. The location commands a magnificent panoramic view of the entire Srinagar city. Then I moved on to visit Imambara Hassanabad, which was a developed city during the Mughal rule. It is the 2nd oldest shrine and is a world famous place of mourning and worship of one million shia population of J&K. Like I mentioned earlier, on one side of the Imambara was the Chatti Padshahi Sikh Gurudwara which is a must stop for all the sikhs coming to Srinagar.
Nishat Garden is situated on the banks of the picturesque Dal Lake, with the Zabarwan Mountains forming its backdrop. Also known as the garden of bliss, it was laid out in 1633 by Asaf Khan, the elder brother of Nur Jahan. Designed in Persian style, this is a 12-terrace garden interspersed with fountains, colourful flowerbeds and lush green lawns.
A major part of Sringar and Kashmir in fact, has sprawling lush green gardens with the most beautifully landscaped flower beds and fountains amidst structures which date back to almost the late 16th century. I decided to see a few for myself and visited Shalimar Garden first. Situated 15 Kms from the city centre, it was built by Emperor Jahangir for his beloved wife, Nurjahan. Shalimar gets water from Harwan through a canal lined with fountains. These fountains were the main attraction for the tourists and children alike. Next I moved to Cheshma Shahi, or the Royal Spring was laid by Shah Jahan and Pari Mahal. The spring is famous for refreshing digestive water. After refreshing myself with water from the spring, I went 2kms uphill to reach Pari Mahal. The different views from the 7 terraces Srinagar felt surreal and I stood admiring the natural beauty for many a minutes.
Unlike its more popular counterpart Dal Lake, Nigeen Lake is a quieter, more peaceful & far less commercialized lake to stay on. Lined by some beautifully carved wooden houseboats, you could spot the occasional egret in the water & the many shikaras floating by, trying to sell their wares.Bashir ji, our very entertaining shikara guy, as instructed by Mr. Wangnu, decided to row us down all the way from Nigeen Lake to Dal Lake so that we could not only rest on the shikara post a very welcome ‘dal-chawal’ lunch at the houseboat, but also enjoy the serene beauty of the Kashmiri water bodies.We aimlessly floated for more than 2 hours through still waters, thick layers of algae & endless lengths of lilly gardens – to quickly realize that poor Bashir ji wasn’t being able to steer us through the floating vegetable garden because the wind was against us & refused to let us move ahead. Much to our amazement, totally undeterred Bashir ji broke into some popular Kashmiri songs & kept rowing, ably supported for sometime by one of us, who decided to row along & make the shikara move faster.
Nishat Mughal Gardens
2. The gardens – Situated on the banks Dal Lake, the historical gardens of Nishat and Shalimar are like a historical bonanza for history lovers. Built by the Mughals, these Baghs laden with flowers offer much amusement and joy. Also, the botanical gardens covered with a sheet of tulips are a hot-spot for picnic lovers.
Srinagar - Ladakh Road
Sonemarg valley is one of the most beautiful places on this highway. The drive from Srinagar to Sonemarg is itself a scenic one meandering through golden fields and towering hills. The meadows of Sonemarg are ever inviting for a trek or a pony ride through the gentle terrain.
As a Shopaholic I found this market a perfect blend of modern architecture as well as traditional heritage. It forms the concentric point of modern and traditional life. The central market boasts of modern capitalist influence with its branded showrooms and cuisine specific cafes, but further down the market, there are the narrow alleys which cater to the taste of those tourists who are looking for exclusive Kashmiri shopping experience as I did. It boasts of a variety of products from artifacts to spices to jewelry to name some. Hence, this market stands as an emblem of its rich variety. The market also boasts of famous local cuisines from the Kashmiri khawas to the shawarmas and the kebabs. It is both a shopper’s paradise and a gastronomical delight.
Bandipora is situated on the banks of the Wular, the largest freshwater lake in Asia which is home to a lot of migratory birds. Inadvertent dumping of the polluted river waters and sewage affluence has led to a pandemic growth of algae in the waters of the Wular which is threatening the lake and its supporting life itself. The main source of pollution to Wullar Lake is Jehlum river. Jehlum river carries all the wastes from Srinagar city and other surrounding areas and deposits it in Wullar Lake. Despite being the richest wetland of South Asia and largest freshwater lake in Asia, no steps have been taken to save Wullar Lake. Bandipora is also a stepping town to the higher reaches of Razdan, Gurez and Tragbal.
Srinagar - Leh Highway
To better acclimatize for the expedition, my trek mates and I deliberately flew to Srinagar and planned to travel by road to Leh. But, the minute we landed in Srinagar our cab driver told us about the cloud burst and landslides in the region due to which the Srinagar-Leh highway was blocked. Our trek was to start in 3 days and we were perturbed by the situation and gave up on the Ladakh plans after waiting 2 days. On the 3rd day at 4am our cab driver called up to tell us that the BRO (Border Road Organization) had cleared up the highway. We bundled into the cab and did a straight 26hrs journey on one of the world’s deadliest roads, crossing places like Zoji La (3528m), Dras (3280m) and Kargil(2676m) in the middle of the night. We reached Leh at 7am the next day and were grateful that we had made it to our expedition start camp just in time.
Tulip Garden Srinagar
You can spend a day visiting all the gardens in Srinagar - Tulip Gardens, Shalimar, Nishat and Chashmeshahi. The gardens are well maintained and beautifully landscaped. It is enthralling to be surrounded by such greenery and riot of colors. However, if you want to see the gardens in full bloom, the best time to visit is May-June. When we were there, the flowers had just started to bloom, so even though they did look beautiful, we couldn't see them in all their splendor.
Yousmarg is a land of rolling green hills. I went horse riding through these green meadows and explored the inner secrets of this forest. When I reached the river flowing through its heart, I wasn't disappointed at all. There are lush conifers all around and the silence is broken only by the persistent gurgling of the river rushing through the rocks. Sit back and enjoy Nature's beauty while you sip on some golden kahwa. Let me warn you though, the narrow trail leading to the river is not for the faint hearted. It requires quite some endurance and conquering over ones fear of heights.
National Highway 1D
Day 2 | 3rd August 2015 Enjoy the breathtaking vistas of Kashmir as we start early from Srinagar and head towards Sonamarg through NH 1D or more popularly known as the Srinagar-Leh Highway. Post Sonamarg, the ascend to Zozi La (11649 ft) begins. As we descend from Zozi La, we would finally enter the Ladakh valley. After a brief stop at the Dras War Memorial, we would head straight for Kargil. Overnight at Kargil. Drive Distance – 200 km Drive Time – 8 hours
4th day started from pahalgam iceland hotel toSinthan top one of the less known place but peaceful if we want to avoid the croud the most exiting part is the journey to that place very adventurous nt that adventourous as leh ladakh..passing through kokernag famous garden we can stop and visit and it lies in midway of ananthnag kokernag we can distantly watch the beauty of daksum too every vilage is beautifull..pretty land scapes and sinthan top at height of 12000 feet above the sea level snow painted mountains and we can view the routes to jammu and kashmir divisions from 360 degree view.trekking wil be adventurous very cold breeze even snowfal on the top very few vistors breathtaking views in journey pit waterfalls. Relaxed view
4) Winterfell CafeAs the name suggests the cafe is a Game of throne theme based cafe with GOT miniatures and quotes bringing life to the theme. The cafe is a treat for the eyes of a GOT fan and a very nice attempt to bring the GOT fans under one roof in the Stark motherland. The cafe is located just opposite the the famous Dal lake so not very difficult to find.
Some Information About Roza BalRoza Bal or Rauza Bal or Rauza Bol or Raza Bal, which means "Tomb of the Prophet".There are two tombs inside the Roza Bal (which is small wooden mausoleum) one tomb is of Ziarati Hazrati Youza Asouph or Yuz Asaph (or Asaf) and another grave is of Syed Nasir-u-Din (Islamic saint, a descendant of Imam Moosa Ali Raza, said to be a great devotee of Jesus, who buried here in 1451).As per some ancient records, that indicate that the grave of Youza Asouph or Yuz Asaph (or Asaf) is to be as far back as 112 CE.The Hebrew name of Jesus was Yuza, in Arabic or in the Koran his name was Hazrat Isa or Isa and Issa in Tibetan. Farhang-Asafia, which explains how Jesus healed some leper and then became Asaf (purified or healed) and the word Yuz mean "Leader". Yuz Asaph or Youza Asouph mean “Leader of the Healed" which pointed to Jesus Christ........................................To Read the Full Article and to See the Full AlbumPlease Visit www.BongBlogger.com
Makhdoom Sahib Road
While walking towards Makhdoom Sahib, Tabassum and Summaiya shared with me the episodes of the tragic floods of 2014 when they took shelter in the Shrine of Makhdoom Sahib along with their entire family. Thousands of Kashmiris who lost their homes and businesses in the floods stayed in the shrine for months. A natural disaster that had till now sustained in my memory only as a headline on TV, now unfolded itself in it's full affect.
To end our day we went to Hazratbal Shrine (dargah)- a holy place. It contained the hair of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Being a girl I was not allowed to go from the front gate and I had to go from the back gate. I entered from the back gate and a policeman told me that I should cover my head. I took out my handkerchief and covered it. That man started a conversation with me- he was a polite, humble person. When I told him I was a lawyer he felt as if he had met one of his relatives. He shook my hand so tightly I almost got a jerk and he happily bade goodbye to me saying "phir aana (come again)".
Some things that mesmerised me about Srinagar were the Houseboats and back waters of Dal Lake. A shikara ride till one of the houseboats in the lake is an experience that is a must in a lifetime. As the Shikara passed through the various channels, we passed many houseboats which were managed by sincere dexterity by the locals. Kingfishers and other birds become a frequent sight once past the house boats into the backwaters. The kingfishers sit on the tops of houseboats nonchalantly almost within the touching distance of humans who seem to be equally unmindful of the birds. We moved further into the calm waters of Anchar Lake where we were in a totally different world, no crowd of boats, no motor boat engines to be heard and the mood was different altogether. It felt almost like we actually were in Venice, just with a lot of fauna instead of architectural structures.
We were warned by innumerable blogs and also by the trek leader that today would be the toughest day of the trek. We would reach an elevation as high as 13800 ft, the highest point in the entire trek aka the Gadsar pass. He pointed us at the steep ascent which we were about to climb. For a minute I thought he was joking. It almost seemed that we would be reaching the tip of the huge snow-capped mountain. But when we started trekking in the same direction I started to get all nervous. The ascent was the steepest so far and tiring. I could not move further for more than ten good minutes. If one lost balance they would be welcomed by the boulders or by freezing cold water. Adding to the miseries was the fact I had acrophobia. I stood shivering in doubt if I could reach the top. But there was only one choice. To keep moving further. After a good one and half hour when I reached the top I realized I had overcome my fear of heights! It was a proud moment personally. One can view both the lakes from here and they look lovely. Today was probably the longest so far. I really did not know for how long we kept walking. Time had ceased to exist. All we knew was that we had to reach our destination – the campsite. We met army camps on our way. Interacting with the army was perhaps a humbling experience. To have lived under the same weather conditions the army does, a wave of respect and gratitude washed us all over. Gadsar campsite was the highest point (12000 ft) where we camped. It was an eerie night because there is pitch darkness all around you and you can only see the outline of the mountains. Maybe also owing to the fact we were away from the LOC by a mere 20 kms. But the sky mesmerized all of us and everything was forgotten. The night sky looked like a huge carpet of twinkling stars, constellations, satellites and what not. Not to mention the Milky way!! One can stare at the sky till eternity and not get bored. I now get it when Calvin says If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently.