Chasing the adventures in kashmir

Once the name of Kashmir comes in mind, abruptly pictures of beautiful valleys begin to form, mountains covered in snow, rivers gushing through the green valleys & orchards sprinkled with delicious red shining apples.  The paths which lead to the higher mountains are laced with wild flowers, berries, clustered pine forests &  cherry trees dappled with laden  fruits.  As one looks through all the directions far in the horizon mountains wrap around beautifully  protecting & covering this valley with their towering heights.  The adventures in Kashmir are worth to explore as the beauty is glorious and overwhelming. Today I am going to take you through some adventures in Kashmir.

Horse riding: When you travel to places like pahalgam & sonmarg you see many people with horses or ponies. horse riding has been a very old activity in Kashmir. galloping on a gentle beast through the beautiful serene meadows of gulmarg or baisarn & Dabian in pahalgam is a wonderful & exciting experience. It is a experience which is tricky and bumpy exciting like a roller coaster ride.

horse riding

horse riding in kashmir

 

 

Skiing: Every year in winter as Kashmir people prepare to face the challenges of cold winter & brutal snow falls. it brings joys & happiness to some adventure lovers who like to ski in the mountains. The best place to do skiing in Kashmir is gulmarg. gulmarg has a variety of natural ski slopes. the temperature is perfectly fine to turn this small hamlet in a fairyland. skiing can be done from December to end of march. the cost per day for skiing can go up to $50.

skiing in kashmir

Snow skiing in gulmarg

Water skiing: Older people take pride in relaxing in the shikara & musing on the mountains while the young want to enjoy the speed and zip through the lake. water skiing will make you energetic & give you a great experience. If you are doing this first time. you will stand on a plank of wood which is roped into a speed boat as the boats starts & takes off  you
zap through the surface of water. you will glide, plunge and surf on the water. you can also capture some amazing views of  the lake. this activity is mostly done in summers.

water-skiing kashmir

Water skiing

para gliding: it was introduced few years back in Kashmir. the is no better way to capture the mountains closely than paragliding. the flight starts from a small village in srinagar called dhara. it is a short flight where dramatic views of  dallake & zabarwan mountains can be photographed. it cost around 50$ per person.

paragliding-in-srinagar

paragliding in kashmir

Trekking: trekking in Kashmir is a blissful experience & really for people who love to be in the lap of nature. there are many trekking routes, you can opt for short treks which last for 3 to 4 days. you will visit many sights & there is no better way to see the real beauty of Kashmir.

trekking in kashmir

kashmir trek

River rafting: On the way to Pahalgam while you drive along the lidder river relishing the quintessential village life. you will come to rafting point here one more adventure of  a lifetime starts.  river rafting will entice you on a nerve breaking adventure as you take on the rapids the fury of gushing river will overpower you.

river-rafting-in-pahalgam 21

river rafting pahalgam

we will keep you updated for more upcoming adventures of kashmir tour, visit our blog again

A view from the houseboat

The wind flutters amid the boats and raises waves which hit the toe of boats and pop them in air. Nazeer pulls a rope to make a knot to the pole half drilled into the land.The wind blows through the colorful flowers pots making the flowers stoop and sleepy, then billows the crewel stitched curtains of houseboat which float in the air like large birds. Nazeer in his white kurta pajama wearing a skull cap that matches his dress & provides contrast to his black beard.

pencil sketch of Dal lake- Anonymous

Wind whiskes from the windows of houseboat whirling through the drawing room spreading the scent of flowers that lay hanging in the wicker basket. “This time of the year it seems like it’s winter” says nazeer. “No tourists have come since the flood of last year”. Nazeer whims and looks at the top of hill where a temple of shankracharya is located. The clouds loom ominous above the temple and wrap around it till it becomes invisible, and then Nazeer turns and goes towards his family who live in a samaller boat and they have made a kitchen in a hut which sits on stilts. “Make some chai” he called someone A “khawa indeed”. A gentle rain began to fall and produced a melodious effect as it struck the wooden roof of the boat. Tip, tap, tip,tip. lala, lala, the voices coming from the corridor of houseboat, a door wide open, there a beautifully carved walnut wooden table, here a wall hanging showing birds of Kashmir a mynah, kingfisher, parrot and pigeon. The wind outside began to make fierce noise as it hit the wooden deck of houseboat. The forest of shankaracharya abundantly green, clustered with pines and mulberry trees made the water of dal lake look green the shikaras carrying people to ferry them to houseboats. Nazir sits down in the drawing room and we talk.

water color painting of dal lake by seema ghiya

water color painting  of Dal lake by seema ghiya

It was a drizzle and it has stopped, outside the temple on the top of hill looks clear now, we talk about many things the advent of houseboats how they are connected with the history of Kashmir, about the guests which stay in houseboats. About the people who are trying to save this lake from becoming a thing of past. The rainbow looks clear near the zabarwan mountain spreading and its colors mingling in the heavy air. A large group of birds fly above us they seem to come from the forest, there a fisherman leaps in a shikara and throws his net into the green water. Nazeer tells of the Europeans which were visiting to dal lake and they were staying in their houseboats for months and now the tourists they get are from many parts of india. They stay for “only a night”. ya “only to see how it looks like staying on water”. Nazer answers a phone call “Ha dada aap ka kambra hai” “bas mazai mai” he has some Bengali tourists coming from kolkatta. The rates of the hotels rise every year in Kashmir but it’s these houseboats which provide economical prices though they have all the amenities of a deluxe hotel. But don’t know why the tourists choose hotels instead of houseboats. Like nazeer most of the houseboat owners get customers who stay for one night only. So everyday they have to look for new clients. They get booking from travel agents or the client referrals. The shikara walla also bring customers.

oil painting of dal lake by donna jolly jacob

“There are only three to four months of season in Kashmir & rest of the year we have to stay indoor or leave to other parts of india to seek work or sell handicrafts. many kashmiris take shops in goa & rajasthan in winter”. “No work here during winter” grins nazeer.

The boats steer carefully through the narrow channel made between two houseboats. Lotus pads grow in clumps and a boy makes a bait of meat piece and places it precisely amid the lotus.The cranky noise of the planks slither as one walks on them bubbles coming from the water there a fish leaps among the lotus the boy overjoyed in ecstasy jumps from one plank to another and holds the fish on line in the air, removes the hook throws fish through the kitchen window.

Nazeer has a warm smile his son has caught a big fish with a piece of meat. Akib studies but he is fond of fishing. I talked with nazer about the future of the their children. He told me that. The houseboat people are known for their hospitality, it was his grandfather who was working as a cook with English and they had a houseboat so this is going through generation to generation. When he was a child he used to sell fur hats and postcards to tourists. Now his son’s will take over the houseboat business when they will grow up. The question is how long will the houseboats last and how long the lake will stay fresh and beautiful. The houseboats and lake go together hand in hand. “If there are no houseboats the lake will loose it’s charm and if there is no lake the houseboats will die away”. So both are precious for each other. What government will do to save both of them remains a question.

Painted by colonel George strahan

A view of mountains from Dal lake Painted by colonel George strahan

Soon the sun began to set leaving behind a beautiful orange color in the dusky sky, Nazeer’s reflection in the green water ripples with every passing wave. The birds come again and sit on the hem of a colored shikara, the top of temple of shankaracharya moulds in the darkness & becomes half invisible. There the birds made a splatter in the water and fly away.

Ladakh, a visit to monks and monasteries

A visit to monastery in leh is a very good experience for all travelers, life becomes dormant here in winters and many people migrate to other places or get holed in the trenches under their mud houses. After the winter passes sunshine  brightens the atmosphere. A herald of the spring lures in the air to paint this solitary town of leh with green and yellow colors of sunflower. The aura of burning oil and incense fills the halls of monasteries and deities clad in shinning robes stare in the opposite mountains visible from the broken window frame. From the myriad colors of heaven are formed the dappled prayer flags which are roped outside the monasteries and ripple there in every weather to send prayers off to the mountains.

thiksey ladakh

Looking at leh town from the edge of thiksey Monastery. photo cc. Michele

There lama’s dabbed their eyes and  bald heads with saffron water getting ready for the prayer ceremonies and the calculating lama fleeces through a rosary under his folded robe. The peaks of mountains look like jewels shining in the distance and brim the mustard fields with their shade, A rippling wind make noises as it touches their peaks, Monks marooned in their robes gather in the main hall of the monastery and begin to chant holy scriptures & drink the salt tea. the old monks beat the drum and  their eyes meet the panoramic views of the mountains and mustard fields below. In the soaking light monastery looks like a treasure house with old artifacts.

hemis monastery

Deity of guru padmasambhava at hemis monastery

Travelers attention is taken by the deity holding weapon of destruction in one hand and human skull in the other hand with thick round earrings on his ears and looking in anger as he wants to come to life and enjoy the world outside which is full with the flaring charm.  village people come with their offerings to pay tribute to the deities. In the distance i see yaks trundling in caravans on the Zig Zag trials carved on the bare mountain carrying loads of vegetables and other stuff which people bring from villages to sell in leh market. As i pass in the leh market a row of street vendors selling dried apricots, raisins & apricot oil. few cars with tourists looking for every opportunity to click the local people especially who are dressed in the local attire & jewellery of which ever westerner becomes envious. The lines of shops in leh market sell shawls, woolen clothing and jewellery from ladakh.

monks at tiksey monastery

monks having a leisure time out side the monastery photo cc. kachwaha

The cloud passes with the wind coming from mountains and striking and wrapping round the monasteries fluttering prayer flags fly like large colored butterflies make ruffing sound as a monk walks up the stairs with a smile and carries a hot tea cattle, there water soaks the mustard fields. The grey land matches with the color of mountains and the river cruises through the farming land. The lamas who has spend most of the time in monastery sped their daily chores early and then pray and do meditation. inside a monastery a table carved with the colorful dragons and thangkas displayed on monastery walls.

Monk inside the hemis monastery, hemis is one of the richest monastery in ladakh.

Monk inside the hemis monastery, hemis is one of the richest monastery in ladakh.

On a rough terrain a wind blows the dust and the outer ridges of mountains form a curving terrain. The deep sunken eyes of a monk tell the story of a devotional life which a person has spent, a prime of youth in the mountains. There a monk blows horn & trumpet, and with the beats jackdaws flutter their wings and the prayer flags whirl in the smoke coming from the monastery kitchen where hot dumplings and thukpa is being prepared. In a polo ground of leh an effigy of ravanna is burned to celebrate the dusshera by migrant laborers & people from different places of India & Nepal. The leh market with small tea shops where hordes of youth come and gossip over tea. on the pavement of the side of street vendors sell apricots,dry fruits, momo’s and spices.

monks and monasteries

Monks blowing horns outside the monastery.

In winters the temperature drops in minus and the life gets tough and boring due to the cold, electricity also is very limited. Monks go on their sojourns to faraway villages for religious teachings and ceremonies. Stark mountains get decorated with snow and the river freezes near it’s banks, willows turn into poles of icicles &  the snow leopard dances on the tune of the trumpets.

Post written by tanveer badyari. Enjoy ladakh tour packages under the expertise guidance of tanveer.

visit: kashmir ladakh tourism

Random photos taken in srinagar

Dear friends, this post is a set of photographs taken during my long strolling hours in srinagar kashmir, some i have clicked and some are yet to be clicked. though, they are lingering in my imagination.  I hope you will enjoy these photographs and hopefully they will inspire you to come to kashmir and witness this absolute beauty with your own eyes. shedding some light on the srinagar city, two water ways one river jehlum and other dallake are the lifeline of this amazing city and we can say the whole city is build on these two water bodies.

evening skies can't get better than this,

evening skies can’t get better than this,

the above picture taken during a evening walk on the banks of dallake, the color of sun are melting in the lake. awesome!!! the real beauty unfolds when a person goes on a shikara ride around dallake. the houseboats provide a warm homely atmosphere with spectacular views all around them. these houseboats which have become a emblem of Dal have until this time served scores of foreign tourists, Bollywood stars and many legends. every tourist coming to kashmir stays in houseboat to experience their age old grandeur.

houseboat in dallake.

a houseboat in dallake.

.a shikara ferries tourists to the houseboat The real beauty of srinagar and kashmir has been encapsulated in the thoughts of poets who have wandered around pine clad meadows and whistling brooks to witness and testimony the offering of nature, a beauty so sublime and magnificent that even the creator has taken  pride in creating this marvel of a valley called kashmir. autumn in kashmir Above picture at zabarwan hills, depicts the surreal beauty of autumn in Kashmir, when the whole valley gets in a new color. autumn sets tone for winter and hence people start to make arrangements for cold winters, they gather the foliage and burn it to make coal. Autumn is a harvest season when farmers stay bust all the time reaping and singing in their fields. after the harvesting is done many people tie marital knots to their children, it is also called season of marriages most of the marriage celebrations take place during the months of sep-oct. whole family gets busy in preparations to cater to the large crowd of neighbors and all kith’s & kins. special cook called “waza” is brought to the occasions to make the delicate cuisine of wazwan all prepared on fire wood. below is the picture of a favorite item in “wawan” called “tabakh maaz” which is made of fried lamb ribs in ghee. the ribs become crispy and melt in mouth with aura of spices. this item is served in the starting of the feast.

a delicacy called wazwan

a delicacy called wazwan

stay in touch with me on twitter and google plus  more photographs coming soon. We will also be leading photographic tours to  ladakh in September  2016.  This workshop will be conducted by expert photographer & teacher. Mr Neil A White. view our more services here ihimalayan.wordpress.com/services/

srinagar tourism (a tour of the city)

Most of the modern cities have a lot of history behind them, same goes with the beautiful srinagar city the capital of orchid state of India, kashmir. The city of Srinagar was formed on the banks of river jehlum. many temples and mosques were also erected on the shores of this river forming a cultural civilization & brotherhood among the Hindus & Muslims. Today srinagar comes alive on the banks of famous Dal lake. Illuminating among the sprawling markets and wounding river. It is a city center were the past & present meet, the modernity and history goes hand in hand. The boulevard road is a beautiful drive way facing the Dal lake. A waterfront with huge lane of shops,restaurants where people go to eat or shop after a long day of sightseeing’s.

hazratbal srinagar

hazratbal shrine srinagar

 

Since a long time  Dal lake has been a center of attraction for many people,  dotted with gondola shaped shikaras floating on its clear and transparent  mirror like waters. The views of the lake become more attractive when seen from the thakthi Suleiman hill also call shankracharya, or from the ramparts of pari mahal “fairy palace”. below the pari mahal is a tulip garden in srinagar which is in the riot of colors during the coming of spring in April.

tulip garden in kashmir

tulip garden srinagar

As the lake gets busy by the day, early morning walk is recommended for the tourists who stay by the boulevard road, during this time of day they can see many interesting sights like shikaras filled with vegetables, flower sellers in their bright colorful boats, fruit vendors carrying the fruit of their orchards as the sunlight begins to gleam on the lake and its people.

enjoying a shikara ride in dallake

enjoying a shikara ride in dallake

The old part of the city called the down town seems falling apart,  it has still some old buildings which represent the typical architectural mastery  of kashmiri craftsmen. The wood carvings with motifs taken from things which are unique and found around kashmir. Old part of town has become much older now and need a change desperately.  streets are narrow and occupied by many shops and markets. The bazaars are mostly crowded by local people who buy day to day stuff. Many  well known  shrines are located in down town area, one  shrine of “khanqah” of shahi hamdan must be visited by every traveler to kashmir.  It’s doors and windows are beautifully decorated with wood carving and the wooden cornice of the plinth is exquisite piece of workmanship. The valley with its rich heritage has always attracted many great saints who came here to spread Islam. these holy men built some of the best shrines in Srinagar and other surrounding areas.

inside a sufi shrine in srinagar

inside a sufi shrine in srinagar

 

Jamia masjid is another piece of architectural beauty, it has got a very long history, wherein  it got burned down & rebuild many times. The strong beautiful pillars on which it stands are all trees. Kashmir tour can be best enjoyed during the spring and summer season then the colorful flowers bloom in the gardens and the shepherds take their flock of sheep to the pasture in sonmarg and pahalgam,  Srinagar  is best place for the people looking to spend their leisure holidays somewhere where they can find solace. The cool weather and moderate climate provide relief to the tourists who come from hot Indian states. Srinagar Kashmir is a heavenly place on earth yet to be discovered by many many people.

 

A Postcard From Kashmir Valley

A visit to kashmir valley will make you yearn to com back and spend your vacations amid the beautiful scenery of lakes and rivers. It has been praised highly from older times by the travelers and mughal princess who traveled here to preach Islam.  The most significant contributors of the heavenly beauty of kashmir are it’s calm lakes and huge green mountains which border it from other neighboring states. The valleys unfold their rustic charm as one  walks through them. The village people are always very friendly and good to talk with, they are very inviting & love to welcome foreigners into their homes. kashmir  is strikingly most beautifully located place in northern parts of India. A short description given by many travelers  who had been there  goes like this, “valley with green mountains and fresh water lakes”. not only that, the cool climate of Kashmir is soothing for health.

kashmir trek

picture taken during kashmir trek

Da lake

The beauty of Dal lake

Kashmiri beauty has been inspiration for many people,  Poets portrayed this beauty versed in words like pearls praising it’s heavenly grace and grandeur. Kashmiri people provide a great hosting experience they are very good natured sophisticated folks. Dal lake is the center of attraction, the most happening place in kashmir known for it’s wooden houseboats. These houseboat provide good accommodation. The green forest opposite the dallake is crowned by ancient Hindu temple of shankracharya. lot of devotees walk up to this temple in early  morning as the devotional songs vibrate and eco among the pine trees. The streams of Kashmir provide soft murmuring sounds and bless the visitors with it’s holy waters.  Hill stations of kashmir are not far from the srinagar city. A person traveling to Kashmir can make Srinagar his base and then visit the places one by one each day & come back to Srinagar for night stay.

Dallake

A vendor selling goods to tourists on the lake.

kashmiri carpet

Kashmiri handwoven silk carpet. intricate work, this carpet takes years to get completed.

Kashmir cuisine is very unique & diverse, The mutton kebabs and meat balls known as rista and gushtaba are prepared in spicy curry and curd. The other dish is called tabakh maaz these are lamb chops crispy fried in the ghee.  Wedding in kashmir for sure is a grand feast where hundreds of people and relatives are invited  for a luxurious gala dinner.  Then  team of cooks arrive in the house and cook on fire logs. It takes them whole night from evening to dawn to make the dishes ready because next day is the day of marriage. men and women eat separately in two large halls. Then the food is served in one huge plate called trami and four people eat in same plate. All the mutton and chicken are served in order and people are busy eating this is a rare experience to watch.

A view from My tent in Kashmir

A view from My tent in Kashmir

A trip to kashmir can be very interesting and heart warming provided you socialize with the local people and hear from them about their land. you will gain lots of insights and you wouldn’t like to leave this place. read more About me

Gulmarg tour

The snow covered valley of gulmarg  is a piece of heaven in winters and summers alike, during cold winters  it receives the highest snow fall as it is located high up in the mountains.  This heavy down-pouring of  soft fleecy snow  close’s all roads leading to gulmarg then it takes a day to make a way for vehicles to  reach to this snow abode. Gulmarg is mostly visited by foreign tourists in winters and in summers it is packed with Indian tourists who come to enjoy the weather and cool air of kashmir. this place remains moderately cool throughout the summers. Compared to  pahalgam and other valleys. gulmarg being a small place but it has many things to offer to tourists and locals alike.

gulmarg ski

gulmarg ski

Snow skiing is very popular here. People come from across the globe to enjoy in the snow here.  the cold winter air blows the powdery snow from trees and the hard frozen sheet of ice on ground makes walking difficult for horses and men. Tourists get overjoyed on seeing snow on  first time. watching snowfall is a dream for many people and it can be lot of fun  it brings happiness and warmth to everyone be it adult or children. lots of people come for their honeymoon in Kashmir they enjoy the snow falls and play in snow.

road to gulmarg

road to gulmarg

snow cycling gulmarg

snow cycling gulmarg

on the eve of Christmas there is a good flow of tourists in hotels, they decorate a Christmas trees and  Santa comes to distribute  gifts to children. in the month of January the jammu & kashmir tourism department organizes a snow festival for 2 to 3 days at gulmarg.  This festival is aimed to attract more tourists to this snowland. different cultural programs  and  traditional  music of kashmir are showcased in this festival. sports activities like cross country skiing. ice hockey and snow skiing races are also performed with lots of gusto. the whole gulmarg comes alive with these celebrations, besides tourists the locals also take active part in this festival.  At the end of festival awards are being distributed to the best performers and sportsmen who take active part in these games. In the recent years the gulmarg gondola has attracted so many people it is the longest rope way in the world. from the 2nd phase of gondola one can see splendid views of the chain of  white mountains standing as a saw tooth against the blue sky.

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