Thursday, January 2, 2014

Srinagar: Heaven on Earth

Amir Khusro said the following about Kashmir:
"Gar Firdaus bar rue zameen asto, Hameen asto hameen asto hameen asto"
It means, if there is heaven on earth, its here its here its here.

You have to be in Kashmir to realize the true beauty of the place. We (I and my wife) had only heard about this place in stories and seen it in the movies. We always wanted to be there. Finally, it happened towards the end of November 2012. I and my wife were in Srinagar for six days.

Zahid, a friend, stays in Srinagar and he helped us plan the trip in the most amazing way. To an extent that now we can guide others to visit Srinagar. In our six days, we visited:

Dal Lake: The urban lake, which is the second largest in the state, is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir and is often called the "Jewel of Kashmir" or "Srinagar's Jewel." The lake is accessible from several ghats made on the bank spreading across the Boulevard Road. We stayed in a hotel on the Boulevard Road with a CCD near by and the majestic lake in front. The first day, we wanted to just roam around and explore the lake and near by places. While roaming around the lake, we halted in almost every five minutes to take some pictures. It was as if every sight was like a screensaver. We drove to the Nishat bagh and took some pictures. But this garden becomes out of the world site in full bloom season. We managed to take some sunset shots along with a few landscapes while we were there and moved on. On Zahid's recommendation, we took a shikara ride after the sunset. It was furiously cold however, the beauty of the lake and the entire experience of the night ride in Dal lake was just mesmerizing. The lake was colorful with reflection of houseboats and shops. The entire lake is very peaceful in the night. one can listen to the sound of water touching the shikara. Simply superb! As an extension of our stay, we spent a night in the houseboat as well. It is a service apartment on the lake. Everything, food, drinks, jewelry, blankets, bedsheets, and of course saffron is available for sale. There are many shikaras selling this stuff across the lake. The temperature that night went down to 0 degrees and the next morning we could see a thin layer of sleet on the houseboat. it was very beautiful, thin layer of fog settling down on the lake with the reflection of sun in the center, we just wanted to stay there for a bit more.