Post cards from Kashmir

Back in 2012 when I was planning my maiden Ladakh trip on bike one of the first decisions I had to make was whether to go via the Manali – Leh highway or via the slightly longer but more scenic National Highway 1D which starts from Srinagar and goes all the way up-to Leh. I decided to go with the later because, in addition to the ascent in this route being more gradual (and hence less chance of being stuck by AMS or Acute Mountains Sickness), it also presents the traveler with fantastic views. Another reason for me to opt for the later option over the former was the Dal lake, which I have been wanting to see since quite sometime.

First view of Kashmir Valley

First view of Kashmir Valley

The first ‘view’ I remember from the trip is undoubtedly of the valley (another name unofficially used for the Kashmir valley). After hours of riding through a mix of good and bad mountain roads, tired and exhausted, when I finally got the ‘first view’ of the beautiful Kashmir valley below, all the tiredness and exhaustion vanished in an instant. With its green carpet of paddy fields and tinned-roof houses constantly exhaling the white smoke, it was a sight which can be hardly put to words.

srinagar leh highway

Colorful vehicles colorful surroundings

Everything about the Kashmir valley has it own charm, in a very bright and colorful way. Even after I moved ahead from the view-point which from where I had the first glimpse of the Kashmir valley and proceeded towards Srinagar, the colorful surroundings always kept company.

pathankot srinagar highway

Signs of urbanization – Kashmir

The lush green fields on both sides of the road, ready to be harvested were something that filled my heart with absolute joy and it was very much evident (but which only I knew about 😉 ) on the ear to ear grin I had almost the entire stretch up to Srinagar 😀 .

The Green tunnel Srinagar

The Green tunnel – Srinagar

Okay! Let me ask you something. Has something like this ever happened to you?

You are driving / riding towards your destination, completely oblivious to anything but the beauty around you. Totally overwhelmed by it, so much so that, for a moment or so, you even forget about the vehicle you are in-charge of totally lost in the surroundings and then suddenly, you come across something which is even more beautiful and jaw-dropping?

Something you were not expecting or have totally forgotten about until all of a sudden, it shows up (or rather you show up in front of it) there, right in front your eyes. This is what happened to me when suddenly I found myself riding though the grand and beautiful green tunnel. The green tunnel is located just outside the town of Anantnag. A shady stretch of tall poplar trees, some two kilometers long.

Too bad I was so lost in its grandness that I could hardly manage just a couple of shots 🙁 .

Shikaras in Dal

Shikaras in Dal

On reaching Srinagar, I knew where I had to go before I do anything else there 😉 . The Dal lake, to say the very least, was way more serene and beautiful than I had expected it to be. This being one of the most famous touristy places in entire Kashmir, I had expected the place to be teeming with lost-in-love couples but it was quiet the opposite. But calm and peaceful it was!

Fountains in Dal Lake

Fountains in Dal Lake

There is more than one aspect of the Dal. One that caters to the tourists and many others that cater to the people staying in and around the lake.Actually, there is an entire population based around the Dal and the lake provides for them in more than one way. I was lucky to get a peek into this hardly-seen aspect of the Dal.

Locals fishing in the Dal lake

Locals fishing in the Dal

In the evening, when I returned to the Dal after a quick break at the hotel, this beautiful lake showed me it’s another beautiful face. With the sun starting to go behind the mountains, the colorful lights of its house-boats turned Dal into something even more beautiful from what I had witnessed in the daylight.

Dal lake at dusk

Dal lake at dusk

Half and hour or so more and the day finally gave it to the night. The boulevard on the banks of the Dal became a chaos of light and sound, with the unruly traffic Srinagar is known for but one look back towards the lake with its lined up and brightly- lit houseboats and, the lake which has by now changed its colors again, mesmerized me once again, making me oblivious of all the chaos going on right behind me.

This is what the beauty and calmness of the Dal, even amidst all the chaos can do to you. It can make you oblivious of everything around it and make you get lost in it.

dal lake at night

Dal Lake at night

From wherever and whichever angle I saw the Dal, it looked equally beautiful to me. Be it from the banks of the lake, from the shikaras or from the pari mahal.

Dal lake from Pari Mahal

Dal lake as seen from Pari Mahal

 

Have you been to Kashmir or looking forward to go there? What all would you like to see and experience there?

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12 thoughts on “Post cards from Kashmir

  1. This was in 2012 and your written this experience now…quite a lasting memory. Thanks to you bloggers I am knowing a bit about these places Leh and somewhere else another person went to Manali to see the site of the Himalayas… I always expect the place to be snowy and people wearing coats… I have seen a 1950 or 1960 tamil movie taken in Kashmir and I think the lake where they did boating was the Dal lake. Well… nice journey I felt what you conveyed, the lighted houseboat beauty and the green tunnel… I am beginning to realise the greenery is there nearly in al mountain regions but one thing you get mountain sickness as well like sea sickness?… I did not know that, I think I am immune to mountain sickness then(:…really well written Rajiv… it is really god you have done these things in your lifetime, goodday.

    • Thanks Maria! That lake with house boat in the Tamil movie can very much be the Dal Lake, afterall it owes much of its popularity to Indian movies. AMS is quite different from Sea sickness and can be fatal relatively quickly if not taken care in time.

      About greenery, Kashmir in summers is green whereas is grey!

  2. Good that you got to explore beautiful Kashmir, but that region only is terrorist affected right, the recent episode in the papers that happened after Abdul Kalam left the world… I am sure nice food there too I can see some food photo blog down somewhere… nicely expressed, can see your experience of enjoying the beauty here visibility…

    • Thanks Arun, the Dal is really beautiful. Whenever you visit, don’t just see the touristy part of it, take a peek on the ‘other side’ as well and I promise you will not be disappointed.

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  4. I love that picture of the Green Tunnel 🙂 What’s the situation now in Kashmir? I understand that tensions resumed again and curfew imposed..is it safe for travellers?

    • I loved the green-tunnel too Kat. For travellers, it was safe always and it is now. Just that businesses were closed. Since last week however, things surprisingly are quite calm. I hope peace prevails.

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