Before you start reading, I just want to put across something here- “You are just as safe in this part of India as you are anywhere else. All the tourist areas are secure but its always advisable to stay away from the sensitive areas. Army, CRPF presence is felt everywhere. Tourists are treated like guests here and their safety is taken care of. But do your research before you plan a trip just like you do to any other place.”

Finally I get to write about this gorgeous, relaxed vacation I have been to, weeks back to the “Paradise on Earth” “Jannat” a.k.a Kashmir 🙂 This Kashmir travelogue is the most requested posts till date and hence I would want to give out as much information as I can about the entire trip and I hope it will be useful for you to plan your next trip to this piece of heaven 🙂 I am dividing our entire trip into three posts. This first post would be all about the charismatic Srinagar 🙂

If you want to know why I’d love to travel, read HERE

We have decided to start and end our journey with Srinagar so that the to and fro from airports would be hassel-free(The security check at Srinagar while leaving is just insane. Always plan to reach the airport atleast 2 hours prior). So the first stop of  our journey was Srinagar. We took a cab from airport and directly went to New Jacquline Heritage Houseboats situated in Nigeen Lake as we booked a suite room there. If you love quiet, scenic atmosphere, always choose a houseboat in Nigeen lake than Dal lake(It’s always crowded with more houseboats and vendors). Nigeen lake is far off from the city and it took around an hour to reach the place. I can just go on and on about the beauty and hospitality of the houseboat but you can read about the review i posted some days back HERE. Our evenings and early mornings were spent on the balcony, sipping khawa , reading a book and enjoying the views. The whole vibe of the place is just so soothing and calming and we just were sinking in the beauty around us.

 

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MY FIRST TIME ON THE SHIKARA, ON THE WAY TO THE HOUSEBOAT

 

VIEWS THAT GREET YOU EVERYWHERE WHEN IN SRINAGAR 🙂

 

LIVE IN THE MOMENT AND BE HAPPY FOR IT. YOU ARE NOT GONNA GET THE SAME MOMENT TWICE!

 

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OUR VEHICLE FOR THE EVENING WAITING TO SHOW US ITS BEAUTIFUL HOME 🙂

 

We did a sunset/moonlight shikara ride which was a 3.5 hours boat ride from Nigeen to Dal lake and back watching the sunset and then soaking in the moonlight. When in Srinagar, you mustttt do the “shikara ride”. Seeing some picturesque locations, watching the locals row by, passing by their cutesy homes and their warm smiles, listening to the tales of Kashmir from the Shikara driver, Watching the sunset and sipping hot khawa and munching on the yummiest maggi you would ever have on Dal lake, under a blanket with your loved one in moonlight(Yes, the shikara also have a blanket, in case you get cold! How cool is that?!) Its an experience that I fail to put in words.

AND WE EMBARK OUR JOURNEY

 

HEY, WE SPOT A KINGFISHER 😀

 

OUR VERY SWEET SHIKARA DRIVER, PLUCKED THIS LILY FROM THE WATERS AND MADE THIS FOR ME 🙂

 

THE ENCHANTING DAL LAKE!

 

SUNSETS LIKE THIS!

 

BEAUTY IS IN ABUNDANCE EVERYWHERE HERE!

 

SINKING IN ALL THIS BEAUTY INFRONT OF ME

 

THIS POSTCARD LIKE PICTURE IN THE MOONLIGHT!

 

At the end of our Kashmir trip, While returning back, we stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton and guys, its splendid! If you are not in for staying in a houseboat, you should be staying here if your budget allows you to! The interiors, room, service, food especially is top class. I will write a detailed review of this property very soon 🙂

So on the same day, we did local sight seeing and here’s what we saw and think about it:

HazratBal Shrine: It is believed that this white shrine contains a holy relic, a strand from the beard of Prophet Muhammad. Go on a weekday and its really peaceful and calm where you can see the Dal lake as well. Make sure you cover your head with a stole like thing and that you are appropriately dressed.

Shankaracharya Temple: A Shiva temple situated on a hill and you need to climb some 300 odd steps to reach the top and the view is amazing. Its under the control of CRPF and hence mobiles or cameras are not allowed to the temple. If you can walk the top, definitely visit as the way to the temple is surrounded by trees and is scenic.

PariMahal: This is an old monument with gardens and a spectacular view of Srinagar from the top. It reminded me of Golconda Fort in Hyderabad. A great place to visit in evening and catch the sunset.

Chashma Shahi Gardens: A very old Mughal Gardens, nothing spectacular though. Unless you are very keen to visit gardens or have a picnic here, you can give this a miss!

  • If you are visiting Srinagar in March-April, don’t miss out the Tulip Gardens, they are as famous as the ones in Amsterdam.
  • If you are a early-riser, do take a shikara ride very early in the morning to see the floating vegetable market on the Dal lake. I heard nice things about the whole scene you get to witness there.
  • Kashmir is very famous for Apples, Saffron, dry fruits. Make sure you buy them in trust worthy shops in Srinagar itself while returning back home and be sure you make some place for them in your luggage. Our luggage was overflowing and we almost paid extra for it at the airport, hence warning you 😀
  • When you land in Srinagar airport, you have a prepaid taxi stand outside the gate. So donot waste time in bargaining with the other taxi drivers.
  • Most importantly strike conversations with the locals and you will be fascinated to hear their stories, their warmth and neighborliness, how much they love and rave about their homeland and how much they are loosing on their daily bread and are put in a wrong limelight because of media and politics!

 

A LIPSTICK AND GOGS TO BALANCE THE NO-MAKEUP FACE 😀

 

THE HAZRATBAL SHRINE

 

WHEN LIFE IS ROUGH, PRAY. WHEN LIFE IS GREAT, PRAY.

 

THE VIEW FROM PARI MAHAL

 

THE ROADS THAT GIVE YOU EUROPEAN FEELS WHICH YOU GET TO SEE ON THE WAY TO SHANKARACHARYA TEMPLE.

 

GO. SEE THE WORLD. SEE WHAT IT’S LIKE TO FEEL ALIVE!

 

We made to Thailand earlier this year and you read all about the experience HERE, HERE, HERE & HERE

I would be back with the next post of #KashmirDiaries on Pahalgham 🙂 See you guys soon 🙂 Take Care, Much Love :*

-Sowmya Rao