Monday, April 2, 2012

Kashmir Trip -2

After a few days at Sringar, we went on to Phalgam , a super gorgeous hamlet with gurgling mountain rivers flowing through it. We stayed at the Railway Guesthouse built just next to Aru river amidst idyllic scenery.The river water was icy coming from the melting glaciers , it was difficult to touch the freezing water even for a few minutes.The river was shallow , fast flowing and one could see the rocky stream bed through the crystal clear water.The colorful pebbles were a delight and I collected a large handful.
There was nothing much to do except take long walks,have simple fare at the small roadside tea-stalls but the mountain view was awesome! I was fasinated seeing the river during the day and hearing it gurgling through the night!
Back in the sixties Pahalgam was a sleepy hamlet and a base for visiting Gulmarg, Khilanmarg by horseback as there were no roads in that area. Now of course many hotels and resorts have mushroomed ,several types of adventure sports are also held here.
A trip to Chandanvari was mandatory and we all went on horseback to have a look at the snow filled valley.Being a skilled rider my Father enjoyed the horseride and did not need the services of the horse owners to control the horses. The small mountain ponies were sturdy , sure-footed and easily traversed narrow mountain paths hardly a few feet wide with hundreds of drop on the other side.I remember grabbing pieces of snow from the mountain sides and greedily sucking on it!
Chandanvari is a valley covered with snow round the year and a popular tourist destination. We were lucky to see a film shooting going on featuring top heroine called Rajshri directed by her father the legendary V. Shantaram. My Mom was thrilled to bits,as she was an avid movie buff!! I also took a tumble on the snow slope and was saved by a nice lady, that was enough adventure for a five year old!
Next day my elder brothers went off to see Khilan Marg while my parents rested, I was conveniently left behind and happily played beside the river.
Kashmir is a state by itself in the great Himalayas and one requires at least ten days to have a glimpse of the awesome sites and beautiful valleys.Gulmarg has a cable car which can take one to greater heights and snow views. Now almost all popular tourist spots are well-connected by roads. The Kashmir valley is still lushgreen and beautiful as Emperor Jehangir's saw it hundreds of years ago and said,-"If there is Paradise on earth, this is it, this is it, this it!"

We had to end our Kashmir trip at Srinagar and again spent a few days shopping and seeing the local sites.We bought a number of local art and craft items like a model of a houseboat , shikaras,papermache boxes etc. My Mom had a superb collection of silk saris , a few Kashmir silks were added to it and also a few embroidered shawls!!The handmade wooden houseboat graced our drawing room for years , a rememberance of our exciting Kashmir trip.
I always try to visit Kashmir Emporiums and stores selling Kashmiri handicrafts for a fragrance of long forgotten memories of our summer trips.

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