Srinagar-Manali-Leh circuit is quite accurately called the mecca of travellers in India and if you want to begin your journey now, start it by visiting the paradise of the north. In this post, I'll share my experience at the first pitstop, Srinagar, while travelling along the Srinagar-Leh-Manali route.
My journey along this circuit began in the first week of June 2016. If you're a believer of Indian Railways, I would advise you to take a train from Delhi to Udhampur as I did. With the sunrise, you would cross innumerable tunnels, each getting you closer to the mountains at a distance.
On reaching Udhampur, I had the option to take a direct taxi to Srinagar but to make it to Srinagar before it was dark, there was a rather more interesting route I took. I took a tedious taxi ride from Udhampur to Banihal and hopped on to a local train that dropped me in Srinagar in almost an hour.
Despite every hack I came up with that evening, I couldn't reach Srinagar before 8pm. I waited at the Tourist Police Booth at Lal Chowk for a hotel caretaker who was supposed to pick me up from there. Little did I know that the man would change the way I would look at everything ahead on this journey. His name was Mohammad Amin.
While going to the hotel, he asked me if I was travelling alone and later, suggested me to stay at his house. I was skeptical and asked a few questions about his family. Mohammad Amin lived in Khanqah Mohalla with his wife and 6 daughters. It seemed like a safe bet and I went along with him.
That night at Mr. Amin's house, we found the best way to break the ice with his six extremely shy daughters. We watched the IPL final match together, the family served me kebabs and kashmiri wazwan for dinner and finally, I slept alongside the 6 girls sleeping in a row in a cosy little room. The next morning when all the kids were getting ready for school, the eldest two Summaiya and Tabassum took a leave from school and decide to take me around the city.
That morning watching the kids go to school, took me back in time when I had a similar school routine every morning. Here are some snapshots.
It was now time to head out and explore the new city with Tabassum and Summaiya. That day we visited almost 5 mosques and the girls followed this interesting drill of folding the scarf every time we entered a new mosque.