Mountain Getaways: Romancing with Nature in Kashmi

10th Jun 2013
Photo of Mountain Getaways: Romancing with Nature in Kashmi 1/5 by Mitali Chakraborty
Photo of Mountain Getaways: Romancing with Nature in Kashmi 2/5 by Mitali Chakraborty
Photo of Mountain Getaways: Romancing with Nature in Kashmi 3/5 by Mitali Chakraborty
Photo of Mountain Getaways: Romancing with Nature in Kashmi 4/5 by Mitali Chakraborty
Photo of Mountain Getaways: Romancing with Nature in Kashmi 5/5 by Mitali Chakraborty

Kashmir is the heaven of India. Since childhood I always found myself surrounded by the heresy of such statements and other synonyms such as paradise used to describe Kashmir. It intrigued me immensely that what was so paradisiacal about this state that left the tourists awestruck when they narrated their journeys. They always stuck to a point that one can never get enough of Kashmir and its beautiful valleys. In the month of June this very year I took a break from the urban quotidian life of Delhi and left for the lofty valleys of Kashmir. Experiencing the beautiful locales of Srinagar, and Gulmarg brought across the scenic beauty of Kashmir in its true essence.

I landed at the Kashmir airport on the 10th of June. I was putting up at the CRPF guest houses owing to personal contacts. My itinerary was fixed. As I had a few days in my hand and I had to get the taste of Kashmiri culture, I mapped out three places to visit. I visited Dal Lake, Lal Chowk and Gulmarg in the following days

The true beauty of Kashmir does not just lie in the numerous popular tourist destinations as designated by the tourist department of the state, but a simple ride to these places itself left me enamored. Driving past the Dal Lake, the cool breeze blowing my hair, the sight of the numerous beautifully decorated shikaras and all these in the backdrop of the snow-capped mountains left me breathless. From the boat ride on Dal Lake to the Gondola ride in Gulmarg everything was a virtual delight. Hence, Kashmir was successful in providing me with peaceful recluse from the humdrum city life in its cocooned beauty.

If coming to Kashmir, then a visit to Dal Lake is a must. As I drove to the lake, got down from the car and stood on the pavement bordering the lake, I took in the panoramic view. It left me awestruck. The huge lake with the countless shikaras in the backdrop of the snow-capped mountains created an enigmatic view. Quintessentially as I took a ride in the shikara, the cost of the boat ride depends on the type of boat we opt for. There are beautifully decorated manual boats called shikaras as well as motorized boats. The prices depend according to season from 300Rs to 800Rs. I found myself skirting through narrow lanes, as there were markets and restaurants, sprawling beside me in the lake. It was like a little town was floating on the lake which in turn created a Venetian experience.
Photo of Dal Lake, Rainawari, Srinagar by Mitali Chakraborty
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.
Photo of Lal Chowk, Srinagar by Mitali Chakraborty
It is said that a trip to Kashmir is incomplete without a trip to Gulmarg. If an individual is looking for a true paradisiacal experience of nature, this is the place for it. The quintessential ride to Gulmarg lies in the journey undertaken to it. Situated at a 3 hour car journey, as one drives to Gulmarg, one finds varied flora and fauna fleeting by as the car winds on the spiral roads climbing the mountains. The river with its clear blue water seems to be your companion as one never loses sight of it, flowing noiselessly on its course in the trenches of the valley. The snow-capped mountain that looms on the horizon becomes one's destination. And, the true exuberance lies in reaching this destination.
Photo of Gulmarg by Mitali Chakraborty