Unforgettable Journey to 'Heaven on Earth' Kashmir

Oct 26, 2017

It was a long pending dream that haunted us to travel to North India, to play in snow and experience it all someday. It was difficult then when we dreamt of it, but finally realized it now. We could somehow manage it at last.

Mangaluru is well connected to Srinagar with direct flights to Delhi and then towards Srinagar.

Our first stop was at a farm house in Srinagar. We were welcomed by warm hosts and many apple trees with bunches of apples which we had never seen before (other than in movies may be!!).

After tea, we went around the beautiful property and the resort that was just getting ready. Lawns, greenery, apple trees, colorful, beautiful flowers and nature were kissing us at every corner of this home in a huge farm. The fresh air and feeling of being in God’s Own Land was so elegant and beautiful! We then went to our hotel.

Since we were all tired with full day’s journey, we slept off after an early dinner.

Day 1

We went to Pahalgam which is around 90 kms or a two-hour drive away from our hotel. We were driven by a driver who was very good and experienced. En route, we visited an apple farm, apple plants or trees filled with apples, at times fruits more than leaves they say. You get fresh apples, fresh apple juice, you can buy few fruits to eat; click photographs in this farm and proceed further to Pahalgam. There you can see a snow glacier with snow all around, and a snow cave with a huge rocky snow glacier.

At places, snow was melting and following like a stream. So you can walk on the glacier, play on snow for hours and feel that you are almost close to heaven. Drive to this place is beautiful as you pass through hills and narrow winding roads. What we observed was the presence of military in Srinagar everywhere. You feel safe being there.

But we definitely felt that a civilian will learn to respect a soldier and salute him more, if one visits Jammu and Kashmir. The working and living conditions of these soldiers is such tough that one has to salute them for the risks they take to ensure our safety. We kept saluting at each soldier whom we could so that they know we respect them. How wish we all could do this whenever we see a soldier. We visited a park on our way back and returned to hotel.

Day 2

Gulmarg: It is supposed to be just around 60 kms from Srinagar. After arriving at a point, we had to take a cable car to climb up the hill with a local guide, followed by another cable car to go still higher. We were almost 14,500 ft above sea level. We went for ice skiing on top here and then we spotted a snow cave.

Here, it was like getting into a cozy cold freezer. We enjoyed ourselves and spend some time in that cool weather of around 7-8°C temperature. It was windy and cold, where clouds kiss your face literally.

At a distance, you watch soldiers in military camps as the other side close by the mountain is the Pakistan border. On this mountain, you have soldiers walking with horses, ponies, shepherds with herds of sheep etc. It was a great feeling, being so close to the clouds! We were on cloud nine!! A word of caution here, please check and confirm on charges for these services, as you may get cheated or over charged like at any other tourism place. We returned to hotel, attended a Kashimir Mehandi programme. We enjoyed a typial Kashmiri cuisine, thanks to our friends. We were then back to the hotel for overnight rest.

Day 3

We went out shopping with a friend of ours and shopped till we dropped. After lunch, we checked into a houseboat. Here, the houseboats are still and stationed unlike Kerala where they take you for a short cruise. But here, we went on a shikara (a type of wooden boat) ride for an hour. We wondered how to pass an hour. Hardly did we think of this, as another boat came along our shikara selling stone jewelry.

While we bought quite a few of the jewelry, it seemed like the news spread about the tourists’ presence. We had continuous boats coming along our boat, selling different things. We ended our shikara ride and returned to our houseboat. That night, we attended a Kashmiri wedding. Only we were in a traditional saree when the other pretty Kashmiri ladies wore only salwar suites. Yet again we enjoyed a sumptuous Kashmiri traditional wedding dinner. We were back to our houseboat for an overnight stay.

Day 4

Checking out from the houseboat, we returned to hotel and settled for a while. We had a vegetarian lunch and took a relaxed tour of two parks in Srinagar, driving around Dal Lake in the evening. We then returned and rested in our hotel.

Day 5

Sonamarg - Zero Point: Here, we had to travel around 80 kms by road for almost two hours to arrive at Zero Point. As our regular taxis are not allowed to go up to Zero Point, we changed our vehicle and started driving up the hill. These drivers are pretty scary, but the control they have on the wheel is appreciative. Now our journey begins with valley on one side and hill on the other, with a narrow winding road ahead. The driver will have to be cautious not only about the oncoming vehicles, but watch out for military vehicles patrolling, shepherds with their sheep herds, falling rocks or stones from the hills as well. You have a deep valley on one side and snow wall on the other, here it is what it looks like.

Should there be traffic congestion, you can watch the local chauffeurs, youth guiding and helping every single driver to clear the road. There is no abusive language, no loud horns and no temper lost. It is done with such a manner that you are left dumbstruck as what we see here is exact opposite than what we witnessed there. Hats off to the locals here.

Even the sheep has a right on this road and they go around grazing gracefully.

Zero Point is a place where the sky and snow kisses the high mountains. Snow is formed on the valleys between two mountains. We were allowed to walk on the snow.

Besides, you see a stream of water flowing, that is melted snow ice, we were told. We walked on the snow for more than an hour besides enjoying ourselves throwing snow at each other. There are tea vendors up there, so you can keep yourself warm at 5°C with wind blowing at your face, clouds also at a low level. Mind you, this is supposed to be summer.

We stuck a conversation with a senior vendor who is working there since 37 years. He said that in November, the snow measures up to 6-7 ft in height. So they cannot be around this place from November till May. Only soldiers who are on duty live around the place. Imagine what would be their plea when they are posted on duty during these harsh winter months from November to April. People from Srinagar generally migrate to Jammu during this time of the year for work. Yet again, we saw a convoy of military trucks going around. This is a daily routine as they carry ration to soldiers on duty at Leh/Ladhak. You see military camps around and soldiers on duty at Zero Point as well. So after living our dream of playing with snow in Kashmir, we started back to our vehicle and returned to hotel quite tired.

Day 6

It was time for us to pack our bags to return to our home sweet home. We traveled by Jet Airways from Srinagar to Mumbai via Dehradun and then from Mumbai to Mangaluru.

My take on my trip to dreamland Kashmir

Kashmir is safe to travel for tourists from any angle. It is still safer when you see military presence everywhere around.
You will by default feel proud of your soldiers when you see them perform their duty in such difficult conditions. I suggest you always salute a soldier when you see one. I have started doing it already as they sacrifice their life’s luxuries (even basic necessities I feel) to ensure our safety and to secure our lives.

Local people, vehicle drivers, hotel staff kept telling us to spread a good word of Kashmir being safe for tourists, because tourism is their bread and butter. So they will not do anything un-pleasant that will take away their daily bread, they say.
Kashmiri people are very hospitable, friendly and helpful in every way.

There is not much of cheating of tourists. However take precautions and check with your driver, local guide or hosts, on additional costs of every activity you wish to take up, as you might be overcharged.

Ladies can shop till you drop for Kashmiri silks, small or medium size crunchy and juicy Kashmiri apples, precious and semiprecious stones and other jewelry, salwar suites, Kashmiri walnuts, almonds from local trees, saffron (Kesar), special tea called Khava and much more. But watch out on your excess baggage cost with your airlines, lest you land up paying too much for your excess baggage.

Once in a life time, one must visit this place only to believe what you see in films, (Kashmir Khi Kali) pictures and albums.
It is out of this world. Only thing is infra structure for tourism could be done better. But because of local weather conditions and terrain of the area, not much can be done maybe.

Explore our own country before heading out because our country surely has better places than we can even imagine.

By Eulalia D'Souza, Lia Travels & Tours, Bejai
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Comment on this article

  • Vincent Rodrigues, Bengaluru/Katapadi

    Sun, Nov 05 2017


  • Anis, Mangalore

    Fri, Nov 03 2017

    What was the total cost of your tour

  • Af,,, Mangalore

    Thu, Nov 02 2017

    Wow, beautiful place, kashmir is a heaven of India, lucky those who visit here and enjoy the heaven. thanks for sharing.

  • Robin, Udupi

    Thu, Nov 02 2017

    Hi, Very beautiful article. Ive visited Kashmir more than 5 times in than 5 times in the last few years and the words you have described is exactly the feeling.


    Wed, Nov 01 2017

    Thanks Madam, It really felt as if we were there with you. Had been to Yusmarg ( 30 KM from Srinagar ) in 1972 for a NCC Summer training Camp. Brought back memories of that trip. Appreciate your concern for the soldiers . Thank you.

  • JOhn Cruz Moras, kuppepadavu/kulshekar mangalore

    Mon, Oct 30 2017

    There is no other place in the world like Kashmir, even when we compare to north of USA. We had been there once but not so close like your trip. GOD bless India. God has made the nature , we have no words to explain. Every place has it's own color. Today you experienced the buity of the nature and gave us the smell of it. Those who would read your message will truly feel that that they too would have been seen the nature like that GOD has created. Thank you very much.

  • Leena Saldanha, Mangalore/Bondel

    Sat, Oct 28 2017

    Hi Eula it’s indeed a journey to Kashmir sitting in Mangalore. Amazing pics.
    Thank you for sharing your experience

  • Ruchir Agarwal, mangalore

    Fri, Oct 27 2017

    v well illustrated .good photos. Due to possible breathing issues i dont think i can make it. thank you Eula your article took me to this place

  • Sr Alice bejai, Neerude

    Fri, Oct 27 2017

    O dear Eula
    Congratulations. Thanks for taking me to North with your article. Wonderful pictures.

  • florine roche, Mangalore

    Fri, Oct 27 2017

    Good narrative Eula and I hope it sends the right message that Kashmir is just safe for tourists.

  • Eric Coelho, Mangalore

    Fri, Oct 27 2017

    Undoubtedly Kashmir is truly Heaven on Earth. The mountain Terrain, the landscapes, the flowing river, the Kashmir animals like the Kashmir Stag, the boat house, we name it, it is there.

  • Ramesh, Kashmir

    Fri, Oct 27 2017

    Indeed heaven on earth. The freshness in air makes the souls fresh. The deeds , the thoughts and the actions are as clean as the air. The only place to have all four seasons - Winter, Spring - Summer & Autum. And every season has its own wonderful beauty. A very silent and remote places of this heaven were never known to outside world. But, someday something happened and things changes for this state.One of the native section of population have to leave this heaven and take refuge in other parts of the country. Let us pray for the peace in this wonderful land and every ndian & abroad visit this places and help for local economic growth. I love Kashmir

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