Left Mumbai by Jammu Tawi (Swaraj Express) on 14th May 2007 at 7.55am from Bandra terminus… reached Jammu at around 4pm the next day. Went to a dharamshala… had bath… a small session and them off to the market… good walk of about 45minutes (one way)… then dinner and off 2 bed.
16th May, early morning 5.30, left for Srinagar. It started raining in Jammu, with strong winds… finally cold weather!!
Reached Srinagar at 8.30 in the night. On the way went 2 Marthand (tomb of some Badshah). Jawahar Tunnel… connects Kashmir valley to India. Green Tunnel… a beautiful road with trees o both sides leaning on d road forming a tunnel. The landscape from Jammu to Srinagar was varying… mountains, greenery… tall pine tress also some amount of deforestation was apparent. We could also sense certain kind of gloom in the air… quite misfortune!!
17th May, our day starts at 7am… we leave for Parimahal. A seven leveled structure built by Shahjahan’s son, Parimahal was an important centre for Sufis. There is an old myth of this place being an abode for fairies, hence the name. Sufis wrote and studied here.
A picturesque view of Dal Lake, Shankracharya temple and the city. The colour green is heavenly… Garden of Eden.
A visit to Shankracharya temple built by King Gopaditya in tht 6-7th century AD.
Mughal Gardens (Nishat), a part of 3 gardens tended by Mughals. Jahangir fell in love with Kashmir and to enhance the beauty of this place tended beautiful gardens.
Tomb of Sheikh Abdullah, a beautiful mausoleum of white marble by the Dal Lake. Sheikh Abdullah, father of Farooq Abdullah was a headstrong leader and the man behind the union of Kashmir with India.
Hazratbal, is the most important mosque in Kashmir. A relic (hair) of the Prophet is preserved here. In 1963, when this relic was stolen the whole of Kashmir valley was in a mayhem with lot of violence. Later the relic was found and restored. Now, it is shown to the public only during festivals. Head scarf essential for entry, women not allowed in side the main hall.
University of Kashmir…
Shikara ride… in Dal Lake… peaceful, joyous and loads of fun!
18th May, Wular lake, village of Watlab. The largest fresh water lake, original area 53sq.km. Now, some 35.7sq.km. Shrinking due to disposal of waste, growth of weeds etc. and is surrounded by Pakistan and China. Got a glimpse of rural Kashmir… calm and serene environment friendly locals with heavy military presence. Kashmir is the largest producer of Basmati rice.
Shrine of Hazrat Baba Shakur-ud-din Wali also known as Topandaz-e-Kashmir. Spiritual history in Kashmir goes back to Nand Rishi. Women spend a lot of time in shrines in Kashmir.
Talk with Dr. Omkarnath Wakhlu and Mrs. Wakhlu ( MLA)… Kashmiri Pandit couple… were kidnapped in 1991. firstname.lastname@example.org
Shopping… thn Wazwan… a 28 course Kashmiri meal… we veggies had a 4 course meal… yummmyyyy….!!
19th May, Charar-E-Sharief, Shrine of Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani.
Nand Rishi… “Nand” means someone who doesn’t harm any living being. Nand Rishi ate only dried grass and fruits that have fallen down. The Shrine consists of his grave along with some of his close friends’ and disciples’.
It has been burnt down 6 times due to various attacks. The latest structure was built in 2001. Walnut tree wood is used for inner structure and architecture.
Kashmir has 4 meadows: Pehlgam, Sonmarg, Gulmarg & Yousmarg.
Pehlgam is a flatter meadow surrounded by rivers. Sonmarg come on the way to Leh. 90% tourists visit Gulmarg and Yousmarg is the least known meadow. It is known as ‘Meadow of Jesus’. In winter, all these meadows are covered in snow and are important skiing destinations. Yousmarg - Tributary of Jhelum runs around it. Locals call it “Doodh Ganga”. 4 different types of pine trees grow here. It was a first good walk since reaching Srinagar. A harmonious blend of mountain, pine trees, lush green meadow, gushing river, bright blessed day… awakens a sense of delight!!
Gujjar community at Yousmarg… migrant community, lack of educational and medical facilities. UNICEF’s Mobile School Program.
20th May, Sonmarg, on way to Kargil. Breakfast stop at Sonmarg… a beautiful village surrounded by meadow and mountains with river Indus flowing alongside. We had ‘tsut’ (Kashmiri naan with sabzi). And ‘kawa’ (Kashmiri black tea). Both were delicious!! During winters Sonmarg is covered with 4-5feet of snow, locals move to the lower plains. Basic income in this region comes from tourism and handicrafts (shawls, carpets, curtains etc). we left Sonmarg at about 12.30pm due to convoy and then there was traffic!
Luch at 3pm at Drass. The way towards Kargil was very scenic and visually enchanting. Tempreture was around 15*C in d afternoon! The highest peak near Drass is Tiger Hill, which was captured by Pakistani Army in 1999 and later reclaimed by Indian Army. Kargil war extended from Drass to Balatic, a stretch of 140km. All along the way river Drass was running parallel giving us company.
Sonmarg- 9,000 feet
Zojila Pass- 13,200 feet
Drass- 9,800 feet
Leh- 11,000 feet
Siachen Glacier- 17,000 feet to 22,000 feet. It takes about 11,000 crore of Defence Budget to maintain this territory. Harish Kapadia, famous mountaineer from Maharashtra proposed the idea of Peace Park at Siachen.
21st May, Kargil to Leh. Chamba Statue at Mulbek. 2000 years old statue. Lamayuru Gonpa monastery at 12,000 feet. Drass river meets Shingo river along the way. Lunch at Khalchi village. We ate ‘thukpa’ (a Ladakhi dish of noodle soup with vegetables).
Dharma Wheel Monastery of Alchi- 3 Oldest monastery in Ladakh, it developed in the village unlike other monasteries. Islamic influence on Ladakhi art. 3 different temples. River Indus flowing besides it. Evening visit to Pathar Saheb Gurudwara. Guru Nanak’s foot print and body is embossed in a rock. This place is maintained by Army.
22nd May, Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery, Shey Palace & Shanti Stupa.
will put more by tmrw...