Sunday, December 09, 2012

Houseboats on Dal Lake,Srinagar


The Lidder River,Pahalgam
Since childhood I had dreamt of beautiful Kashmir--"Paradise on Earth"--the place on Earth at seeing which the Mughal Emperor Jahangir is said to have uttered this Couplet in awe "Gar Firdaus bar rue Zameen ast--Hameen asto,Hameen asto,Hameen ast" which when translated means if there is Paradise on Earth it is here,it is here,it is here.Having read about the beauty of Kashmir in Books--historical or otherwise--it was one of the top priority places I just HAD to visit---atleast once in this lifetime.In 1983 we came here after Nainital---but though Nainital was beautiful Kashmir was--astounding!!
As we drove through the beautiful Banihal Pass into Kashmir Valley the very Air changed!!There is no way to describe that heavenly perfumed Air that wafted in through the Bus windows---it was mesmerising, intoxicating and so very fragrant that even today Kashmir to me brings back the memory of it--before everything else!!Truly it is very difficult to describe the abundance of the Natural Beauty that abounds there.No words or Pictures can ever capture Kashmir or it's Beauty entirely.Having been there I find these a very poor comparison to the original--Kashmir and it's Beauty truly stirs the heart and soul---there is an ethereal,mystical and dreamlike quality to Kashmir.Driving to our Hotel we passed by the Dal Lake and on it's rippling surface were those beautiful,carved Houseboats as well as the Shikaras propelled by leaf shaped Oars.Everything about Kashmir in the Summer is fragrant----the Crocuses which supply precious Saffron,the beautiful Mughal Gardens filled with a variety of beautiful Flowers,Fountains and Canals---Coniferous Forests and lush Green Meadows,rushing and gurgling Rivers--deep velvety Cornflower Blue Skies and high Snow capped Mountains---there is so much to see, to drink in with one's eyes---that frankly a single trip just cannot capture it all in it's entirety!!
We visited all the Tourist Spots and on our visit to the famous Ski slopes of Gulmarg found that there was still Snow there.We trudged up a steep slope to the very to of the Ski Run--guided there by Kashmiri men dragging Toboggans for our descent---the only way down was to use the Sleds---but on realising that I had to hold onto one of the men on my descent I refused to sit behind him.As a result he finally gave up and sped away--leaving me with Ming,Tina and my huge Leather Purse stranded on the Mountain top.Never one to give up easily,I tucked my Silk sari securely around my ankles,hung my Purse round my neck and clutching a wriggling little body under each armpit pushed off--my well rounded backside helping me sail down the Slope!!!It was pretty exhiliarating and set my Adrenaline pumping--my hair streaming out behind me,the Dogs squealing in anxious excitement ,the Wind rushing against my face----but I was actually heading the wrong way--straight into a deep Ravine!!By now my poor husband had realised what had happened and instead of wasting time berating that poor Kashmiri man--he started climbing up the Slope towards me.Imagine the sight--a 90+kg.s woman hurtling down the slope at full speed and a 67kg.s husband desperately trying to change her dangerous path--stuff for a Hindi Film climax!!Luckily I chanced upon a Rock that gave a push in the right direction--and I skid to a stop at Sudhir's feet.Poor Sudhir was speechless--tears streaming from his eyes, he caught hold of my shoulders and shook me really hard--till my teeth rattled in my head!!However later we could all laugh together at the sight I must have looked hurtling down the Slope from the bottom of it!!My beautiful Silk sari wasn't ruined but was sodden and pretty uncomfortable to keep wearing.Luckily it was straight back to the Hotel from there--so after an hour's discomfort I changed it when it was almost half dried!!

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