Kashmir – Paradise on Earth

The summer of 2023 had arrived. School exams are over, but still no plans for a summer vacation. Not again! I don’t want another adventurous trip like the Chennai Trip. I must plan something. “Let’s plan for Kashmir – paradise on earth”, Biwi said (ordered). Not sure how she knew that I was thinking of a summer trip.

Well not sure if it would be safe. Modiji just got article 370 removed. Not sure of the situation on ground! G20 summit happening there this time. Not sure if this would add to the woes. But I am hearing that a record breaking tourists visited in March. I am really not sure.

“All my friends have visited Kashmir and it was safe. I am not going anywhere this time”, Biwi announced. Well then let’s plan for a gala trip. Let’s ask my didi and jiju (sister and brother-in-law) if they want to join us. Also,ask maa (mother-in-law). “Yippe! that would be awesome”, said Biwi.

Like a pro I started my research and planning. But this time it was tougher and expensive. But I came up with the itinerary –

Day 1: Flight to Srinagar (via Delhi); Checkin at Dal lake Houseboat for 2nights

Day 2: Full day sightseeing in Srinagar – Dal lake, Shankaracharya Temple, Mughal gardens, Chasme sahi, Pari Mahal, hazratbal etc

Day 3: Early morning travel to Pahalgam. Checkin for 1night; half day sight seeing

Day 4: Full day sight seeing – Chandanwadi, Aro valley, Betab valley etc; evening back to Srinagar

Day 5: Early morning travel to Sonmarg: Checkin hotel for 1night; Half day sight seeing

Day 6: Full day sight seeing – Thajiwas glacier, local places

Day 7: Back to Srinagar; Checkin hotel for 2nights

Day 8: Early morning travel to Gulmarg, Gondola (Book tickets online at least 2-3 months in advance for both phases); Back to Srinagar hotel by evening

Day 9: Flight back to Kolkata

I can guarantee that you can cover all important sights if you follow this plan and don’t forget to book a car for entire trip, which will save time and money.

Well now that itinerary is curated, it was time for execution. I booked the flight tickets first as it was very costly and too much rush. Then I booked the Gulmarg Gondola tickets online (https://www.jammukashmircablecar.com/). I had only one Month lead time and as you can guess I did not get tickets for both the phases of the gondola ride. I was desperate and very sad, as it was one of the main attractions for all to enjoy snow clad mountain. I searched fanatically and got hold of an agent online to promised me that he will give me the tickets 2 days before the scheduled ride. The final logistics was the hotels which booke through Makemytrip and got few good deals.

All of us were really excited and started shopping and packing the essentials. The day came and we all reached Airport on time for a change.Click! Click! Some customary selfies without the pouts ๐Ÿ˜‰ Off we go to the paradise on earth. It was a total of 6hours time with 1hr stop over at Delhi. We had a breathtaking view of the Himalayan range. It was just amazing. Finally landed on heaven. It was 12 degree and soothing.

We reached Dal lake and then called the houseboat. He yelled back saying why haven’t you called me before? No room is booked for you. You can’t just book in Makemytrip and not talk to me. I was wondering what’s happening, I have the booking confirmation voucher from Makemytrip! Had lot of arguments and then he somehow had pity on us and warned don’t do it again. I obliged.

The much awaited Shikara came and we hopped into it experiencing the Paradise on earth. It was really awesome experience.

Soon we reached our houseboat. The wooden interior carvings really gave a royal feeling. Welcomed with hot Kawa ( kashmiri tea). We Checkin and then took a cab to the Mughal gardens at 5PM. No it was not dusk. The sun’s after 7.30pm in Srinagar. After that went to local market near dal lake and spent quality time before we hoped into our shikara who took us back to the boathouse.

Next day early morning after breakfast we took a shikara ride (Rs 700 per boat for 1hour) to checkout all the floating shops and Meena bazar. Although a bit expensive but the experience was awesome.

We then took a cab to Shankaracharya Temple up the nearby hill. The hill top gave a panoramic view of Srinagar. Don’t miss it!

The temple has a Shiva linga and you can surely feel the postive energy in the spot.

Then we went to Chasme sahi and Pari Mahal and then had late lunch at 4pm at a Dhaba. Food was awesome. Then we planned to go to hazratbal,but rain struck. But we still went ahead with the plan as it was just drizzling. Nice big mosque. The ride to the mosque along the banks of Dal lake was awesome.

Next day we woke up early as we have planned to go to Pahalgam. On the way stopped for some awesome Apple orchards and had fresh apple juice. You will love it. Pahalgam is a picturesque location. Many Bollywood movies have been shoot here. Our hotel was just beside the lidder river. We could see the snow clad mountains from our rooms. Wow what a scenary.

Book a cab for the entire trip. It will save lot of time. You can checkout the hotel at 12noon, keep the luggage in the vehicle and do rest of the sight seeing until evening. Utilize the evening for travelling to next destination. Believe me you coverage would increase by 1.5x

The journey has just begun and too many stories to tell. Keep watching this space to read about my adventures in Pahalgam, Sonmarg and Gulmarg. Till then stay safe.

Swarup Biswas

I am an explorer. Join with me in my expedition to explore new destinations, cultures, people, food, stories, facts and much more...

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