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Jammu & Kashmir, India – Blessing in Disguise

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I would like to acknowledge that by the grace of God, I am born in a family who feels travel experiences are a perfect way to blend into the soul of knowledge and contentment. We had a planned family trip to this heaven on earth in May 2016. 

India’s northernmost region which wears the crown of mighty Himalayas and attire of resplendent valleys and swiftly flowing streams decorated with the bewitching gardens. Parallel to the natural beauty, the place basks in Sufi spiritualism and rich heritage. For that matter, I can say Jammu & Kashmir is a perfect balance between being stuck in time and brindled modernization, which has kept it untarnished. 

We landed in Srinagar early morning welcomed by the beautiful distant sceneries as we had the first glance through the glass windows of the Airport. Our tour was handled by a local tour operator. The chauffeur was waiting for us to take us to the accommodation first, which was a houseboat amidst Dal Lake. The drive till the same had a magical effect on me since the city was in its most naked self (the everyday routine of the hustle and bustle was yet to happen). The peace complemented by natural beauty was really immersing. From outside to inside, the houseboat was drenched in the local culture. The staff had been extremely warm and hospitable with a sweet Kashmiri accent. Post breakfast, we headed to explore the gardens. We visited Shalimar, and Nishat Gardens, Chashme Shahi, Pari Mahal, and Badamwari, followed by seeking blessings in Shankaracharya Temple. I couldn’t stop embracing the beauty of local flora. It was surely a treat to the eyes. We also consumed water from the natural spring in Chashme Shahi, which is believed to have medicinal properties. Early evening was meant for boating in picturesque Dal Lake onboard a flamboyant Shikara. We ended the day with a hearty Rogan Josh delicacy for dinner. 

The next day was dedicated to Gulmarg. It is famous for its exquisite valleys, alluring and fascinating slopes. It is located 56 km north of Srinagar at an average altitude of 2650 m. Gulmarg is also a perfect destination in winter if you are a skiing enthusiast. We also enjoyed the two-stage gondola ride. Public conveniences for the tourists were all available there. The second stage was under the blanket of snow, even in May, with a pleasant cold atmosphere. The panoramic view, along with the sweeping clouds, was breathtaking. 

In the latter days, we visited: 

Sonamarg: It is set in a valley amongst enthralling milky white glaciers, pristine lakes, and flower-laden meadows. It is located at an altitude of 2740 m above sea level and is 80 km northeast of Srinagar. The scenic privilege was pampering our senses. We also witnessed Zoji La Pass located 9 km from Sonamarg. It serves as an important link between Kashmir and Ladakh. 

Pahalgam: Located 95 km from Srinagar at the height of 7200 ft, Pahalgam is associated with the annual Amarnath Yatra. It stood at the conflux of Lidder river and the Sheshnag lake and surrounded by thick green pine forest foliage. We also had the escapade of magnificent Betaab Valley. 
The trip was all about engulfing in the wonders of nature. I felt to be close to the deity and asking the way it brainstormed to create this marvel on earth. We also shopped souvenirs such as Pashmina Shawl and local handicrafts.  I wish to go back again, but this time in its tranquil winters.

Author
Vindhya Pandey