Saturday, June 5, 2010

Periods of ‘Paradise on earth’

"agar ruhe jamin asto, ami asto ami asto..."

The place we cherish in movies of late 1960-70s with the beautiful meadows, snow peaks, gardens, lakeside views and floating ‘shikara’. Serenity turned into the battleground of contradiction and strategies but valley is still fresh wrapping up the fragrance of chinar. Kashmir -‘heaven on earth’ keeping pace with the process of healing wounds. Well keeping this travelogue ahead I am little melted with the situation of the state but united prayers are still with the Kashmir.

It was much awaited and full of curiosity trip to Srinagar and its surrounding.

I heard a lot from my dad about his golden time spend at Srinagar. This is my second visit but for my ‘free-flyer’ attitude it’s mature and more filled than previous visit. The point of concern is situation and I was little alert about the month long strike of state roadways (J&K srtc). Srinagar is well connected during summers and the confidence of private transportation keeps my hope alive.

Jammu is connected from Rail and bus services round the year to the parts of India and strategic point to reach far parts of Kashmir.

From Delhi it I comfortably reached to center point Jammu from where I booked my seat in sumo taxi to move further, everything goes projected. Through NH1 Nagrota gives the first presence of armed security. It is about 300km stretch up to Srinagar with broad serpent like road. Sitting next to driver seat I was filled with curiosity about the unpredictable journey. You can’t take sleep although drive shared his experiences and green heights made me sheer viewer. Convoys of army trucks and ‘bhedu’ (sheep) keep tickling. Two-three or up to five stoppages are necessary to take meal and tea. Relishing sumptuous globally known state dish rajma-chawal and local chai dhaba before Jawahar tunnel were energy boosters that switch me on relaxed mode.

Driver (or the pilot at that time) said after crossing 2.5 km Jawahar tunnel the other will be vibrant full of colors and scenery will be greener, slow and steady full of security we crossed the admiring tunnel with the interesting ‘once upon a time’ stories of our pilot.

Through the vista of pir panjal en route Udhampur, Kud, Patnitop, Ramban, Kazigund, Anantnag it was busy road. During winter sometime road blockage created chaos to army and public the passing summers is the time to storage the important product.

Secluded about for hours in taxi on voyage of mountains, great tunnel, golden plains, horrified rifts and saffron field takes me finally at the high heel evening of Srinagar. Bit tired I choose to halt at the surroundings of the nucleus of attraction ‘Dal Lake’ at effective cost.

Charm of watching Dal Lake in golden seconds of dawn stood me up at around 5.30. Day as usual serene with full throw, children’s waiting for their school buses, morning walkers and shikaras doing their daily activities. A dose of tea in the morning dragged me to a chaiwalla who spend his time with ups and downs shared his experience. People are very friendly and optimistic about the future.

Dal Lake and Nageen Lake is favorite place to calm down and lifetime experience of gliding in the evening looking at the hari parbat and shankracharya tower.

Day 1

The popular place of local sightseeing are Shankracharya Temple, Nehru park, Pari mahal, Chasma shahi, Shalimar Bagh, Nishaat Bagh, Botanical garden and Hazratbal mosque and Dal lake. These bagh are world known that have rare species of flowers grown in different season. Shankrachaya temple is situated on the heights also known for DD telecast centre. Hazratbal mosque or Dargah sharif is made by white marble on the banks of lake and shrine after preserved sacred hair of Prophet Mohammad. The local sightseeing can be done in a day while good shopping I should refer is kashmiri handicraft, shawls and caned products. Later in day walk along the bank side of lake praised sparkling house boats and came back to hotel after meal.

For food I only know traditional wazwan, yakhnee, rogan josh and dum aloo and different seek kebabs but I loved the fresh bakery products with kashmiri chai kahwa.

Day 2

Next day I leave early morning and pooled a taxi to Pahalgam which is about 90 kms from Srinagar and situated near to lidder stream. Pahalgam is main course for Amaranthji yatra via chandanwadi, baisaran, sheshnag, panchtarni which is once known as shepherds place. Few favorite places are gettable by pony. I walked around the market which was filmed in film Roti and then ancient stone made shiv temple. Such a picturesque view of river and surrounding heights reminds me the days of praising the picture which we always say heaven.

Day -3

‘Switzerland of India’- Gulmarg originated from ‘Gaurimarg’ is favorite place for ski resort and winter games. I enjoyed widespread meadows, horse riding and Rani temple or shiv temple.

Day -4

Martand temple (Hindu mythology sun temple) and Matton sahib gurudwara are situated religious place near Anantnag. Matton sahib is the centre of faith for Sikhs for snan in natural springs of Gurudwara of Guru Nanak ji. My parents often told me about their visit to pilgrimage kheer bhawani temple of tula mula, Ganderbal dedicated to Ragnya devi. Surrounded by the mammoth chinar trees it has been a tradition among the Kashmiri pundits to visit the Bhawani on all the nine days of the navratras. The day dipped in holy rituals and faith.

Well the best part of my journey is taking look of the apple trees without any cost and fresh plucking apples with my hand. Mornings are dedicated to azans praying peace and prosperity. At last I am really thankful to the armymen (salute) who every time I found helping, smiling and doing best of their security job; ‘salaam’ to the kashmiriyat for keeping fragrance of Chinar.

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