One of the most turbulent and violent and yet starkly beautiful region in the world with a diverse geography and culture are the badlands of Jammu and Kashmir, the crowning glory of India. To say that nature has blessed this land of snow-clad mountains and endless meadows of delicate flowers is an understatement. But along with this blessing has also come the curse of insurgency, terrorism and instability.
As a girl from Kashmir, I have got a chance to travel extensively in the region and honestly I would say Kashmir rivals any Alpine destination in Switzerland or France. Covered in lush, green fields and roaring rivers this is a beautiful land dotted with auburn-gold chinars and beautiful people who welcome all with arms wide.
Anyone planning to visit Kashmir can explore it in three parts; the culturally rich jewels of Srinagar, the wild and isolated Pahalgam and, the rocky desert region of Ladakh. All the places offer breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains and valleys. Spring season is the best time to visit Kashmir. The country side is in full bloom and the nomadic herders bring their cattle to graze on the slopes.
Srinagar the central hub of cultural activity offers a wide array of activities that can indulge in while you’re visiting. Dal Lake, a popular spot for the love birds, the Mughal Gardens are the most beautiful places. When it comes to food, there is no place like Kashmir; if you’re counting calories this isn’t the place to be. Kebab’s dripping in ghee, succulent gosht, gustabas, rogan josh, yakhiyn are the most delicious dishes that are offered.
If you’re looking for a place for some quite soul-searching, a trip to Ladakh is for you. You can choose to go by car, though the wicked hairpin curves might cause motion sickness, the breath taking views are worth it. For bikers, Ladakh is an incredibly popular destination.
The highest motorable trek, the Ladakh trek is the most famous of all. A cold desert, Ladakh is sparse in its beauty. There are bare lands dotted with various monasteries or Gompa’s. A visit to Thikse Monastery when in Leh is must and, while in Ladakh you can also pick up prayer wheels, singing bowls and, semi-precious jewelry from roadside stalls.
For those who have been planning to take a visit, summers are a perfect time to get away from the stifling heat of the Plains and escape to the North. To enjoy the most, keep off the crowded classic road and go on exploring some of the offbeat places.
If I could offer you one tip, Sunscreen would be it. A good sunscreen is essential. Right, you’re not travelling to a desert but the snow clad mountains reflect maximum amount of sun-rays and, the sun rays reflected is so intense that it might burn. The higher you go, the harsher the sun becomes. To protect yourself from the sun rays, goggles and a headscarf is more than necessary.
Kashmiri weather is pleasant in spring, but because of the snow capped peaks and high altitude, the nights are chilly. As the sun sets, the wind drops and so does the temperature. You’d need your winter-wears even in summer. Moisturizing Cream because higher the altitude, lesser the moisture and therefore dry chapped skin.
The heavenly taste of the Kashmiri cuisine is directly proportional to its calorie content. Rich in calories and spicy in nature, the cuisine might not suit a few and may cause indigestion problems. Carrying some basic medicines for digestion and a first aid kit is highly recommended. Because, no matter how much you try, you won’t be able to control yourself after savoring the rich delicious dishes.
If there’s one thing that travels with you, it is your shoes. A good pair goes a long way in life and it is better that you get the best one you can find. The journey is too long and if you do not want to end up with a twisted ankle, get yourself a good shoe or just rent a pair there, cause not for nothing are those numerous shops doing business.
Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast | If there is a paradise on earth, It is this, it is this.