They say there is no perfect or worst time to visit the magnificent valleys of Kashmir and Srinagar. And, as per my 10 day family trip experience, I now believe in every word of that saying and the endless efforts that authors and poets have made to describe the place so far.
My trip started with a train journey from New Delhi, the capital of India, to Udhampur, a clean and quiet station, before we went on a 5 hour long drive to reach our first destination – Srinagar. Even though I was 5 hours away from reaching our destination, the freshness of air and the tranquility of the environment had already filled my heart with a feeling so different hat no words can truly serve justice to it. The 5 hour road journey had a few stops- a local dhaba (restaurant) for breakfast and tea, a mid-stop for stretching our legs and for me also to bring out the photographer in me.
We had been pre-booked on a houseboat. Upon reaching Srinagar, we were welcomed by our hosts. Quite opposed to my first two lengthy journeys to reach so far, this time we were shown to our compact Shikara which was our only way of commuting between the house boat and the land.
I often wondered why, of all the places, this place is known as the “Heaven on earth”. I got my answer on the very first night. After having travelled so long and suddenly transitioning from a chaotic busy life in New Delhi to this picturesque and serene land of astonishing sceneries and warm people, we decided to eat an early dinner and go off to bed. Lying on my bed in the darkness of my room (which I had to had to share with my sister!!), I only could hear three things – the tick tock of my watch lying besides my pillow, the rhythmic flow of the waves created due to whatever scientific reasons, and the endless thoughts that came to my mind that night about what it actually means to be “at peace”. I could never be more thankful to my mother for planning this trip (5 months in advance!) and for reminding me every weekend thereafter that I had to apply for leaves.
I have never had a better refreshing morning in my life than the one that I had the next day (and all the other 9 days). For the first time in life, I didn’t want to waste a single minute more in my bed. So, I had everybody ready as soon as I could and we left on a tour of the city. We visited some of the most beautifully preserved and carefully maintained Mughal gardens like the Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh and of course the Royal fountains called as Chashma Shahi. Looking at the splendid craftsmanship of these places made me think why does anybody need a degree on art to be called an artist?! After all not all of these craftsman who made these masterpieces were degree holders or even educated.
Having visited a lot other places in and around Srinagar like Jama Masjid (mosque), Sonmarg, Avantiswamin Temple, and Pehelgam, we were finally coming to an end of the trip. Though I had a nice paying job, bunch full of insane but amazing friends, a cute Labrador, my cozy bed and a real world waiting for me back home but I just didn’t feel like waking up from this movie-like dream I was living in for those 10 days.
Having partied crazily on the beaches of Goa to have played Volleyball on the banks of river Ganges in Rishikesh, I finally picked the top favorite on my “places to visit again before I die” and that has to be Srinagar. It’s not because of the marvelous beauty or the amazing hospitality, it’s not even because of the enriched culture or the revitalizing energy that the surroundings carry but if someone really wants to know what is love then they must visit this place because that is what will happen when you do- you will simply fall in love.
About the author: Aditi Roy: I am 28 years old and currently based out of Kolkata. I was born and raised in New Delhi, India in a family full of lively and fun-loving people. As a frequent traveller, I have travelled most parts of India. I am an Academic Content Developer and have an undying passion for only two things in life – travel and writing. Visit me on Facebook.