Saturday, April 23, 2016

Valley Memories

Prominence of Green is hard to miss. Airport cushions, Sign-board on shops, Bill Board advertisements- come with a Green backdrop. Javed, our 1st local escort drives us through the famous Amar Singh College of Srinagar.
Like any other Indian citizen, he asks for better roads, talks of tax payer’s money and better civic infrastructure. We gradually ask him, about the security concerns of the State and he is quick to retort, it is a media glorified issue. He insists there is more normalcy than what is projected. We try best to empathize with his assurances, but the presence of CRPF stationed at various locations, silently tell a different story.

Amid conversations & moderate showers in sub 12 degrees temperature, we reach "Dal Lake". Luxury is not to be hurried, and "Dal Lake" forces you to slow down.
A quiet sail on a Shikara connects water-borne houseboats to concrete roads along the Lake. "Nazira Palace" our houseboat, is our home for next 3 days. Zuhoor-our Houseboat manager greets us each time as we step out of the Shikara and step in to our Houseboat. Be it Maggi +Toast for Breakfast or Kashmiri Pulao with Dal Makhani for dinner, food in House-boat is served steaming hot. Zuhoor ensures, we take the food, while it is hot.

We would not have brushed up our negotiation skills, had it not been for Driver Wasim's cautions. Pony Riders and Sledge Owners of Gulmarg & Sonmarg, earn their living from its domestic tourism. It needed some bargaining to get a fair deal.

The following day, we have Younis driving us down to Pahalgam. En-route Pahalgam, Younis talks about 2014 Kashmir floods, introduces us to Kashmiri Kahwa. Each time we drive past a Dargah or a School, he mutes the car audio & silently drives on.

By Day 4- we are already familiar with words like "Phiran"and "Wazwan". We have tasted the Kahwa, felt the Pashmina Shawl.
Khyber Cement hoardings on the skyline of Srinagar- introduce us to a new word, as they read - "Mazbooth Tameer, Mehfooz Kashmir".

Charms of the Valley continue to surprise, even as we reach the airport for departure. There is a Multi-layered baggage screening, prior to security check.  But what blares louder is the message that an average local tries to convey.
From Javed to Younis, from a hand-loom vendor to a Pony Rider, they all have 1 common understanding “The Valley thrives on tourism of snow-capped mountains, let not security concerns ruin it".
With this message, we fly down to the warmth of Chennai.


magiceye said...

Loved the narration! My dream destination! Hope to visit soon!!

Cloudia said...

What a pleasure to travel with you. and I see my good friend Deepak is here!

Shilpa Garg said...

Aah! This post brought back so many memories of our stay in J&K. Srinagar is beautiful in every season. Though it's been 6 years since we left Jammu, Kahwa still features as a night time ritual drink during winters at our home. I miss Kashmiri food prepared by our landlady there. Loved reading this post :)

GreenComotion said...

Hello there!
Thank you for visiting me to today and wishing us well.
The snow covered mountains in your photos and the boat with flowers are all very beautiful.
I would like to visit Srinagar someday.
Have a Happy Week!
Peace :)

SG said...

Thanks for the wonderful travelogue. Never been to Sri Nagar so far. Will visit there during the next visit to India.

Amrita said...

Wow what a beautiful post..... May the valley prosper.