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.
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 hard put to words.
Everything about the Kashmir valley has its own charm, in a very bright and colourful way. Even after I moved ahead from the viewpoint which from where I had the first glimpse of the Kashmir valley and proceeded towards Srinagar, the colourful surroundings always kept company.
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 :D.
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 through 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 kilometres long.
Too bad I was so lost in its grandness that I could hardly manage just a couple of shots :(.
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 quite the opposite. But calm and peaceful it was!
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.
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 colourful lights of its house-boats turned Dal into something even more beautiful from what I had witnessed in the daylight.
Half an 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 to 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 to everything around it and make you get lost in it.
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 Mmahal.
Fancy heading to Kashmir? Check out these Kashmir Tour Packages and see which one suits you best.
Have you been to Kashmir or looking forward to going there? What all would you like to see and experience there?
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