No amount of political heat and cold waves can cut off Kashmir from a traveller’s bucket list. For Durba Ghosh and Rudresh — avid travellers — Kashmir was a unanimous choice when it came to deciding their honeymoon destination. A backpacking trip just added to the fun and adventure. In a guest post, Durba Ghosh shares their travel tales with us…
Our first rendezvous with the celestial landscapes of Kashmir was in Srinagar. Since we were on a backpacking trip, we left all our accommodation and logistics to last minute. We hired a sweet little house boat, at a quaint and pristine part of Dal Lake. Decorated with old-style Kashmiri fabrics, long windows overlooking the lake and mountains, sounds of birds chirping all day long and an extremely courteous host; simply put, we loved our stay here.
We had planned to stay at the houseboat only for a day; however, our love for the rhythmic and tranquil feel of Dal Lake prodded us to maintain it as our base. We dedicated one day each to Sonmarg and Gulmarg, travelling by a cab from Srinagar, where we stayed for 4 days. Gulmarg with its gondola rides is a must visit. Although the queue to get on one requires hell lot of patience, the wait is totally worth it. There are two levels in Gulmarg, till which the cable cars drop you. We love snow, and we love adventure, so it was a no-brainer that we will go till the second phase, which is at a height of about 14,000 ft! It was freezing cold and there were small white balls of cotton pouring from the heavens. There is also a ski option available at Gulmarg. Sonmarg on the other hand is much of a wilderness with untouched beauty. But, one will have to cross past all the porters and find a way of their own to explore this beautiful landscape. We went on a trek on the snow till the point we couldn’t go any farther. The view was one which we will never forget in our entire lives. Lofty Himalayas, snow everywhere and high rising trees, with the soft sound of water seeping under the glaciers, Sonmarg is a nature lover’s paradise. Our next stop was Pahalgam, which has a number of trekking options. We ducked the porters again and managed to find our own way upwards to the mini Switzerland, with its vast open land patch, locked by high rising pine trees, while a stream flows by. There are various different valleys to mesmerize the senses, however, one will have to take a local taxi to explore. We hired a small bunglow in Pahalgam. The stay was very homely, with fresh cooked food. The view from the window was like wallpaper.
Although we gorged on a lot of Kahsmiri dishes throughout our trip, our favourite has to be their preparation of red spicy gravy with minced mutton balls. It was rich, delectable and extremely tasty. We had it at a local restaurant called Shamiyana in Srinagar, thanks to our zealous driver. The place was decorated in traditional Kashmiri motifs like painted glass panes, designs with mirror pieces and its namesake – shamiyanas or traditional lamps from the Mughal era. The restaurant is located right opposite Dal Lake, so a walk along the boulevard after a scrumptious meal added to the experience.
Don’t Miss: House boat stay and the Gondola ride in Gulmarg. It can be quite taxing, but do make sure that you visit Gulmarg and experience the gondola rides. The scale of it will pleasantly surprise you. However, beware of the porters and vendors.
Don’t leave Home without: Cash, because working ATMs are a bit hard to find. Do not forget sunscreen, because high altitude sun rays can really damage the skin, even if it is freezing cold. Of course, leaving back your warm clothes will be a tad bit stupid. So, make sure you stock up on enough pullovers and jackets and caps.
Approximate Cost: Rs 60,000 for two