Sledging down a mountain slope at close to 30 kilometers per hour with blustery winds and jagged specks of ice numbing your facial senses, your nose could almost break off, you feel. Yet the adrenaline surging through your body wills you on and you buckle down for the ride. Your fingers metamorphosed into popsicles, you hang on to the sledge akin to a skydiver holding onto the parachute cord. As the slope plateaus, you can’t help but feel enamoured by the ease with which this one minute ride intoxicates you, leaving you yearning for more. When you regain some semblance of kinesthesia in your face, you’ll look towards the summit of the mountain and know that in between the snow on your jacket and the short sledge down, you’ve had an experience you won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
The Gulmarg Gondola, named after the town it’s helped make famous, is the gateway to the summit of the Kongdori Mountain. The Gondola takes goes up the mountain to a height of nearly 13,000 feet giving the tourists a chance to wipe the clouds from their faces. When you finally catch your breath at the top, albeit with some difficulty, you lose it all again instantly, looking at the stunning view of the valley below. Breathtaking in the truest sense of the word. I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else, you say to yourself.
Any trip to Kashmir is absolutely incomplete without a tasting of the ‘Wazawan’, a collection of all the delectable Kashmiri delicacies. Though, if you’re a vegetarian a meal in Kashmir can get over pretty soon. Almost all of the ‘Wazawan’ comprises of mutton preparations exclusively. Different cuts of mutton, cooked in different gravies all enthralling the gastronomic senses. In many ways, every Wazawan meal is a journey in itself taking you from the purely minced meat of Srinagar to the rough cuts of Pahalgam. For all the political and social instability that has marred Kashmir for the best part of two decades, the allurement of Kashmir has largely stayed intact. Like a princess whose father’s kingdom got invaded and captured, Kashmir had receded into a dark corner of solitude. Now, however, Kashmir is back in the mainstream regaling one and all with its timeless charm and elegance. Kashmir is here to stake its claim again, almost in a Daenarys Targaryan-esque sort of way. This ‘Heaven on Earth’ was only forgotten, not lost.