Posted by: miilee | June 10, 2010

Beautiful Srinagar!


May 8th, 9th, 2010

We got done with the journey from Jammu to Srinagar on the 8th. We reached Srinagar late afternoon on the 8th. After a good meal, we headed to the Srinagar hotspots; Shankaracharya Hill, Pari Mahal and Nishat Gardens.

Each place was beautiful in its own right. As a challenge to myself, I climbed up the Shankaracharya hill steps without a break and it was fun! I got totally out of breath but the fact that I could do it told me I was in better shape than I thought. However, as I stood at the very top and was just gloating about my health, I saw a man well beyond his 60’s easily lopping over the steps with apparent ease. He wasn’t even out of breath! I told myself, that unless I can do that even at my age, there was no reason for me to gloat. Lesson learnt.

Then after that, we went to Pari Mahal which was splendid, overlooking the Dal lake. Originally, like any Mughal garden, Pari Mahal too is built on levels as a reflection of the levels of Heaven. Jannat (Paradise) they call it. And truly, it was Jannat that we saw there. Again, the original garden was designed around a natural spring but due to several reasons, that spring no longer ran down the center of the garden. Yet, it was a well-kept and beautiful place. The Nishat gardens on the other hand, were something out of this world! It had a whole range of hues to display in the twilight. And all over, so many flowers that I was on the verge of going insane! The constant spring running through the middle was just as alive and energetic as it must have been when the garden was made centuries ago. There is something I wrote when I was there. Thought I’d share it here:

I’d almost forgotten what a real garden is supposed to look like. Fountains, trees, flowers and a whole lot of open spaces spread over levels of land. They are supposed to signify a peaceful mind; a mind none-the-less active. A well sorted, open way of thinking, with a myriad of colours in thoughts and, like the flowing water, a perennially active chains of thoughts. Sitting in a garden, one should be closer to enlightenment than one is in any other place.

We have a close tie with Gardens; since, after all, didn’t all of humanity begin in the Garden of Eden?

A Garden should be a space that brings out the most poetic side as well as the most spell-bound, speechless side in one, at the same time.

It must be a reflection of Paradise. And that was one thing that the Mughals got right….. They knew how Paradise looks….

In all, I guess people there take their flowers very seriously because I didn’t see a single compound which did not sport its own healthy variety of flowering shrubs and bushes, all jostling for space. Our hotel itself had a maddeningly awesome garden with roses the size of my face!! I went crazy with my camera! Here’s Proof:

The Pari Mahal

The Nishat Gardens

This is the nishat gardens again... That's the natural water spring...

That's Dal Lake by morning

And that is the lake by evening...

The Himalayan Bulbul... One of my first good Birding pictures..

Now for a few of those flowers.. …

Beautiful... isn't it?

Mere grass flowers yet enchanting...

....

Pretty!!

This one really was the size of my face! No kiddin'!!

I love the light in this pic...

Walking through the Dachigam...

The whole group... taking a break halfway through Dachigam

Anyway, so the second day in Srinagar, on the 9th that is, we paid a visit to the Dachigam National Park. It’s a very well-kept sanctuary and home to a lot of birds and animals. However, we weren’t expecting to see too many mammals since all of them move to the upper Dachigam area for the summers and we had permits only for the lower area. But yet, we did see some magnificent birds, and even chanced upon a whole bunch of Grey Langoors. Besides, we even stepped into the icy cold Lidder river just for fun!! As is ritualistic for me, I drank from the river by lying flat on my front on some rocks and dipping my head into the water… it was AWESOME!! Crystal clear water right from the glaciers!

The Lidder River...

The Grey Langoor... barely got a shot of the fellow...

Once out of Dachigam and after feeding ourselves, we headed for the museum and found out that it had closed half an hour ago. But the man there opened it for half an hour just for us! The museum done, we then headed for the Dal lake where almost everyone took the shikara rides. I didn’t for two reasons. Earlier in the day, I’d seen a pure white shikara and it was so beautiful that I didn’t feel like sitting in any of the gaudily coloured ones being offered. Second, I’m not really a ‘girly’ type but a shikara ride is the ultimate in romance for me. I wasn’t about to take one unless I had someone special to share it with me… so, I went on and purchased a new memory card since I was gonna need one soon for my camera.

The Himalayan Woodpecker....

The Shikaras that were entertaining tourists...

And the White Shikara that had taken my heart away....

Post the shikara rides, we got a bit of worrisome news; In some region of Jammu, a youth had been killed in police firing and as a mark of protest, the whole of the valley was to observe a bandh on the next day, i.e. the 10th. Now, a bandh (strike) is serious business here and we were warned that once it begins in the morning, we wouldn’t be allowed to cross the district border. So, we hurriedly visited the remaining spots for the day;  the Abdullah memorial which is the tomb of the founding leader of Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah. Then the Hazratbal Mosque where it is said to house one hair of the Prophet Muhammad.

We had to hurry back to the hotel so we could eat quickly and turn in early enough to wake up at the crack of dawn and leave the valley before the bandh could begin the next day. When we got to the hotel however, we were welcomed by some of the most appetizing fragrances I’ve ever had the pleasure of inhaling..

As a treat, our staff advisor, Sudhakar sir had arranged for a mini- wazwan to be served!! For those who don’t know what a Wazwan is, it is a traditional Kashmiri royal feast preparation. We had three non-vegetarian dishes and three vegetarian ones served for us out of the whole spread of some 20 odd preparations. And oh what food!! The two lamb preparations, Rishta and Gushtaba just blew me off my feet! They take their spices seriously and that, put together with supreme quality meat was by far the best dinner I’ve ever had!! (I’m still salivating all over my keyboard at the very thought!)

Anyway, once fed to bursting point, we hurried to our rooms and packed our bags to be loaded onto the bus by night so we can just run the next morning. The onward journey was to be a long one. We were to travel the whole of the next day to get to Kargil by evening. Then, after a night at Kargil, travel the whole of the day after that to get to Leh. We were to keep our toiletries and a set of clothes with ourselves since there was a chance that we wouldn’t unload our luggage at Kargil. It was gonna be a tough task; the next two days. But we knew enough about Ladakh- Leh to know that even if we traveled a whole week, the place was gonna be worth it all. So some of us packed up the bus top with our huge bags and went to bed.

Anticipations were running high when we went to bed that night. For the last time, we were to sleep to see a dream land…. a day’s wait and we knew we’d be roaming in a dreamland in broad daylight…… even then, none of us could have anticipated the full impact of the beauty of what we were to experience….

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Responses

  1. Amazzing !! Absolutely Amazing writeup and pictures.. Love it..

    • Thanks… the place is so much more beautiful than this!!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sandy, Maithili Desai. Maithili Desai said: Beautiful Srinagar! : http://wp.me/pDvVG-9X […]

  3. Heaven ….
    and beautiful captures ….

    • Thanks…. You’ll love srinagar… actually, you’d love the whole of kashmir!

  4. Excellent pictures.. really splendid view..

    You are having fun of your time 🙂

    Enjoy.. I will definitely go there…one day..

    • well, i sure am having an awesome time! And do visit there… it’s the only heaven known to man!

  5. I love images…
    keep posting more..

    http://wherecity.blogspot.com

    • I’ll be using more with my new posts.. 🙂 Glad you liked the blog… please feel free to share it.. 🙂

  6. i wish i could go there 😦

    • The first opportunity you get… GO!

  7. love ur post…

    Beautiful Pics.. love them 🙂

    • 🙂 Thanks… 🙂 I’ll put up the next soon…

  8. The images are awesome! 🙂

    • Thanks! Glad you liked them.. will update the blog with the next part of the trip soon…

  9. Millie nice!! Bina ghumne ka apne pura kashmir ghuma diya…

    • lol…. ab aap ko kya batein….. agar aapko mera blog pasand aa gaya toh kashmir se toh pyaar hi ho jaayega… seriously… it’s too beautiful to be true!!

  10. Bliss!! No doubt that its heaven.. nd love d way u described everything.. 🙂

    • 😉 will update the next post on saturday… bit busy with office right now…

  11. Quite amazing indeed. And Beautiful photography. But some things are better experienced than read about. So I guess I will have to plan a trip to this area in a short while.

    • Please do!! go as soon as you can!! one can’t miss this city!!

  12. Some really nice photographs you’ve taken! Naaaice!

    • thanks!! Glad u liked them.. 🙂


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