The best thing one can do to get rid of the scorching heat of Goa is ‘get away’, go to a place which is cool (or cold). We decided to go to Kashmir, ‘The Paradise on Earth’.
The tickets were booked and we were set to leave on 5th May. We boarded the Trivandrum Rajdhani Express at the Madgaon Railway Station. It was a 26-hour journey to Delhi from where we had to take our flight to Srinagar.
The next day at around 1 o’clock we reached Hazrat Nizzamuddin Station only to be baked in the scorching heat. We quickly booked a prepaid Taxi and went to our guest house. We freshened up quickly and left for a small trip of Delhi.
The next morning we boarded a flight at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, which is ranked as the 2nd best Airport in the World. It was tremendously awesome. Our flight took off and we could see the beautiful Himalayan Mountains which left us delighted.
At last we were in Srinagar, surrounded by mountains which looked amazing. The same evening we took a drive past the beautiful Dal Lake.
Next morning we left for Sonamarg(100 ksm from Srinagar), an alpine valley nestled within the imposing Himalayan peaks. It is a beautiful place with snow capped mountains all around. We reached the point and started trekking on a green (not so steep) hill. We hired a special taxi which would take us to the main point where we could actually play in the snow. We even saw the shooting of a film, most probably it was the untitled Yash Raj and SRK’s film.
The next day we went on a local tour of Srinagar. We started with a temple called ‘The Shankaracharya Temple’which was located on a hill. It was a very old temple and the view from there was amazing. We could see almost the whole of Srinagar and the Himalaya mountains. Next we took a trip of the Dal Lake in the Shikharas (The traditional boats of the valley). Our shikara was ‘Mehak’ and it was very beautiful.
The great Cheshmashahi Gardens which is one of the three Mughal Gardens, had awesome flowers and a royal spring too. The Nishat Garden was similar but the Shalimar Gardens were not well maintained but still the flowers were at their best as it was the Spring season.
Next was Gulmarg, a popular skiing destination and it accommodates the world’s highest golf course. But there was very heavy rain on the way which blocked all the beautiful scenery and we only hoped the clouds got cleared as soon as we reached there. Our prayers had no affect on the clouds and it continued to rain. Yet we waited in desperation and finally the rain stopped and we got down. It was very cold and so we quickly put on the jerkins. The Gondola ride (rope way) to go to the top of the mountain was really cool. It was a dream playing in the snow, but the bad part was that we couldn’t see a thing around as the visibility had reduced to 0 beyond 5 meters.
The last place we visited was Pahalgham. We reached Pahalgham a bit early and started to explore the place. Sitting in front of a fast flowing river is the best you can do there. We had heard that there was a place in Pahalgham known as the Mini-Switzerland point which could only be reached by riding a horse. We hired three horses and the poor horses started the 3 km climb. We were literally doing ‘horse climbing’ and after some time we reached the Swiss Point. It was so majestic that it made our tour complete. We never imagined the place would be so beautiful on the mountain. The green grasses and the snow capped mountains around us was a memory we would never forget. The saddest thing was to say bye to that majestic place. As we came down the hill on the horses we felt pity for the horses and their keepers too as they climb the whole mountain with us on foot. Then on the way back we saw the apple tree and in it the apple buds and apple flowers. Words fall short to explain the beauty of Kashmir, therefore, one must visit this place! We left with rich memories which we will cherish our whole life.
This is the message that the people in Kashmir requested us to spread:
There is nothing to get afraid of here; we are the same humans as you all are. Please don’t hesitate to come here; the paradise on earth is waiting for you to be made into a major tourist destination.
By Pratham Yadahalli,
Std IX , Mushtifund High School, Panaji