We have been wanting to visit Kashmir for a very long time, specially because I have someone there who calls me his daughter, a Kashmiri gentleman I have known for ever. We finally made a hurried plan and visited in October.
Kashmir valley is a valley located between the Karakoram and the Pir Panjal Range and is around 135 km long and 32 km wide, formed by the Jhelum River. Here is a satellite view of the range of the valley surrounded by Pir Panjal range. It is a magnificent and awe inspiring site when one is approaching Srinagar airport by air.
We landed in Srinagar and the plan was to spend 3 days in Srinagar, then spend a few days each at Sonemarg, then Gulmarg and then Pahalgam – finally being back in Srinagar for two more nights.
We landed at Srinagar in the afternoon and our first glimpse of Srinagar was a bit disappointing, it was not as pretty as we had imagined it to be. The roads were ok but the locality was quite unkempt and not very clean.
We finally reached our hotel which was located at an area called Rajbagh, which is supposed to be an upscale residential area of Sringar. The hotel was called Miraje – the young owner Mr. Omer Shah likes to believe that it would be more like “my home in the valley” to his guests and tries to manage it like a small boutique hotel. The hotel has only 15 rooms and you get personalised service. We had a very nice room given to us and the service was very good. It is unlike a star hotel and a little more like a guest house with facilities of a hotel.
we rented a car from the hotel for the entire trip and thus started our Kashmir Valley tour.
Day 1 was spent on visiting my “abbu” Ali Mohammad Gani at his home and meeting his lovely family and then spending a bit of time at the Nigeen Lake. This Lake was originally part of Dal Lake and is now separated by a causeway. This lake is located to east of the city, at the foothill of the mountain Zabarwan.
Srinagar is defined by Dal Lake and it remains as its heart centre. hundreds of hotels thrive on its side, thousands of people live either on the lake on houseboats or do business on it on either shikaras or boats, much to the detriment of the lake and its ecosystem, but it also provides hundreds of people its much needed livelihood since the valley is hugely dependent on tourism.
We then visited the famous Jama Masjid and the Dastgir Sahib Khaniyar mosques. Dastgir Sahib is a shrine built in the 18th c, housing the relics of a saint. It consists of a square building containing the relic and a few ancillary rooms, and a rectangular building that wraps around the square one on two sides.
The parathas are as huge as the huge plate on which they are kept.
The Jama Masjid was originally made of wood and has burnt down thrice and has been rebuilt thrice. Right now the inside of the mosque are still wooden with approx 699 wooden pillars supporting the wooden ceiling with beautiful intricate work on them.
The first day was satisfying and a bit tiring too. We ended our day with Kashmiri saag and rajma at our hotel and curled up under the blanket. The next day was the Garden day and a birthday to celebrate!
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