Kashmir – Heaven on Earth

As a person who has lived in the Tropics, snow and snowfall were always a fascination. As a child, I had so many questions of how does it feel to hold the snow, to feel the snow on your cheek, how cold does it get, do we freeze, how easy or tough it is to walk on snow and so on. As Indians, the only snow we see is in Bollywood movies and I always wondered ‘don’t these actresses feel cold?’ If you are an Indian, you would exactly know what I mean. For all others, you need to check out Bollywood songs shot in snow.

Then one day suddenly, my husband surprised me. He said, “Lets turn your fascination into reality. Lets go on a vacation to the most beautiful place in India, Kashmir”. We immediately booked our 5 day trip through one of the tour operators in India. We visited 3 beautiful cities of Kashmir valley, viz. Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam during Christmas.

Kashmir is fondly known as Heaven on Earth or Switzerland of India because of its beautiful landscapes, snow-clad mountains, clear glacial rivers and flora and fauna. I have listed our itinerary through some lovely memories.

Destination 1 – Srinagar – Summer Capital of Jammu and Kashmir

This is how Kashmir welcomed us! View from the sky

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Morning Frost at Dal Lake, Srinagar

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‘Shikara’ Ride at Dal Lake, Srinagar

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One of the major attractions in Srinagar – Houseboats. Houseboat, in a layman’s term is a home or a place to live on a water body. They are stationary and are generally very close to land to provide basic utilities. Houseboats in Kashmir are fully equipped with electricity, geysers, toilets, beds, food, kitchen supplies and television sets.

House Boats

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Beautifully lit dining area of a houseboat

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Dal Lake Bazaar known as ‘Meena Bazaar’ – Looks like India has their own Venice

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Kashmir Willow Bats are very famous in cricketing world. Indian cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh to name a few are said to have used these bats.

Ruins of Avantipur Temple – The temple stayed buried for centuries until it was excavated by English in the 18th century

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Destination 2 – Pahalgam

One of the most picturesque valley I have seen so far. Fell in love with this beauty as soon as I landed here. It was also the night of Eid, one of the major festivals celebrated in Kashmir. Even the nature was celebrating with us. Some of the glimpses of Pahalgam’s beauty through my lens

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Snow adds a bit of color to the otherwise grey landscapes during Winters. Its nature’s way of playing with colors

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We tried to add a dash of color as well

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Met this cutest gypsy girl while wandering on Pahalgam roads

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Not the best quality picture, but this how mountains glittered under the full moon. Beautiful and ghostly at the same time. An experience not be missed.

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Guess we learned the gradient style from nature

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Destination 3 – Gulmarg

After a valley it was time to cruise some altitude. Gulmarg is one of the hill stations in Kashmir at an altitude of over 13000 ft. It receives an average of 14-18 meters of snowfall every year, January and February being the peak months for snowfall. Automatically making it the heartland of winter sports in India. Luckily, when we were there, sky was clear and sun shone bright giving us some beautiful bright snow pictures

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We played like kids in snow. We felt the same excitement when a kid feels when he receives a new toy and plays with it all day long. We wished to never leave this place because it was so (just for the lack of words to describe the feeling) ‘beautiful’

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Skiing is one of the major winter sports at Gulmarg. This place attracts amateur as well as pro skiers from all around the world during the months of January and February.

And not to ski here would be foolish. So I tried my skills at skiing, but it was disastrous. I fell(almost had a split), I bumped into people, my one leg bumped into my another leg(sounds funny but yes it did happen), but even after all this, it was an experience which I might never forget and given an opportunity I would love to do it again.

My trainer (in white) was happy posing for cameras. Dude, you are supposed to teach me!

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Loved ‘cozying’ up a bit with my favorite person

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Santa Claus is coming along, riding on a sleigh (The only difference, there were no reindeer to ride it)

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Gondola Ride

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Icicles – I love how nature keeps itself interesting and amazing

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Kashmir is the most beautiful place in India. I had my apprehensions about this, but after visiting this heaven personally, I am certain this place is not at all over-rated. People in India believe Kashmir should be visited at least twice in a lifetime, one during winters and second during summers. Kashmir is beautifully different at both times. So Kashmir, hang-on I am not done with you yet. You will soon see me in the months of April through June some day.

Philosophically, it is said that not everyone gets everything. In case of Kashmir you might wonder if God has been very generous because it does have everything, beautiful people, snow, rains, rivers, lovely flora and fauna, delicious food and spices and purest of air to breathe in. But unfortunately as it is rightly said, one thing people here do not have and constantly crave is ‘PEACE’. Kashmir is one of the disputed lands that is administered between three countries, India, Pakistan and China. One of the rarest places where you will find Army personnel on roads restoring normal life after regular conflicts between civilians and armed officers. I really hope politics stays out of this heaven because it will be very difficult to create something like this from the scratch.

Keep traveling, keep living !!!

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