When a long term desire is about to come true one got to be excited. So was I, when we decided to visit Kashmir during the Summer holidays of 2017.
However, as we all know that the State is battling a lot in the last 30 years. We the mainland folks treat the place as a State of ‘Terrorists’. The land of trouble, the paradise that is been ruled and infested by demons etc.
When the word spread that we were going to Kashmir, people had all sorts of things to say…
Oh my god! Didn’t you find any other place to go?
It’s not safe there? Stone pelters will ruin your holiday?
What’s the point in going to a place which will ruin your happiness?
It’s so unsafe there… people roam around with guns. What if something bad happens?
Are you sure, you will come back in one piece?
Blah blah blah!
We were nervous initially, however we wanted to fulfill the demand of our daughter, who wanted to see snow in India in the month of May. So we confined in our dear friend Priyanka, who is travel buff herself and helps people travel to their dream places with ease. She planned it all for us, the flights, places to visit, how many days to stay where, which spots to visit, best deals, weather conditions, the safety and security etc.
Excitedly we book the tickets, hotels, etc. We were thrilled to the core, however, a fear lurked in my mind… My dad had completed his Early Stage Throat Cancer treatment regime just about 10 days before our designated day of travel. Though his treatment was over, he was weak and was recovering at snail’s pace. I had to be ready for any emergency. And, the emergency happened just before 3 days of our date of travel. His condition deteriorated so much so that, he needed to be hospitalized. We were determined to get him out of the hospital on time without hampering his treatment or having to cancel our trip.
Did we feel that our trip might get cancelled? Oh hell! Yes we we did feel it, really strong in our heads!
Did we discuss on canceling the trip? Yes, we did.
Were we afraid that things may not go the way we want it to? Yes, we were.
Were we disappointed? No, we weren’t.
What did we finally do? We decided to do our best and take the best decision within our capabilities.
So what happened finally? Did we travel or not? Guess what, we did travel.
Dad was back home on time, he was out of danger and was getting monitored well, we had our support system around 24/7, doctors were on call, ambulance numbers were stuck to the fridge so that anyone can call them (just in case).
Did we travel with full peace of mind? No, we were worried, we were tensed, but we thought, what the heck! We will defy the odds. We will come back stronger than ever and calmer.
The day of the travel started really early, we were out of home around 2.30 am. We were flying from Bangalore – Delhi – Srinagar. Idea was to reach Srinagar as soon as we can, we were scheduled to go to Pahalgam the same day. Even though we were sleep deprived, we were super excited. None of us could sleep in the flight, even after trying hard.
The first glimpse of The Mighty Himalayas caught our eyes about 30 mins before landing in Srinagar Airport. The excitement soared, emotions were high… The Himalayas was flaunting it’s beautiful snow capped peaks. The grace, the aura, the magic was just beyond words. Srinagar greeted us with beautiful sunshine and calm breeze. As we approached to the baggage counter, our driver for the entire trip, Aijaz Bhai called. His calm, welcoming voice made us comfortable immediately.
As we came out of the Airport, Aijaz Bhai was waiting for us with a clean and neat car and a big broad smile. His first words were, “Welcome to Kashmir, I will be there with you for the next 7 days!”, in impeccable English. As we settled down, he told us some of the things that are very normal in Kashmir. Among them were spotting heavily armed forces protecting the valley, Chinar (Maple) Trees, Willow trees, Good looking people, extremely friendly and helpful attitudes of people specially towards tourists etc. He also mentioned Kashmiris love to smile and strike random conversation with people and they respect women a lot. Women are absolutely safe in the state. Specially, if you are a women traveling to that state, they take utmost care to make sure they feel safe.
As we drove past the alleys of the city, the local radio played melodious bollywood hits from the 60’s and 70’s. The era when Kashmir was heaven for filmmakers and every other film was shot in the beautiful locales of the state. The first song that we heard was Yeh sama shama hai ye pyar ka https://youtu.be/qn9GDeIHioE.
This was the song and the movie (Jab Jab Phool Khile) that influenced me immensely to romanticize about Kashmir. This was the song that seeded the desire to visit Kashmir, when I was all of 7-8 years old kid. I was thrilled like a child listening to the song. As if the universe was welcoming us with the best way possible. I kept gushing about it for quite some time.
We drove past along the Willow trees, battalions of troops, beautiful saffron fields, magnificent Chinar trees, tiny little villages, herds of sheeps and goats, unruly water streams, Apple orchards etc. for around 2.5 hours. River Jehlum, the lifeline of Kashmir gave us company as we drove towards Pahalgam. We were in Pahalgam by lunch-time. Pahalgam is famous for its long pine trees, lush green valleys and being the last city before the start of the famous Amarnath Yatra.
We checked into Hotel Volga, a hotel surrounded by snow capped and lush green huge mountain ranges. We felt as if the mountains were guarding us. We were oblivious to the unique adventure that awaited us. (To be continued to Part II)
READ THE OTHER PARTS HERE:
PART II – https://srijatablog.wordpress.com/2017/12/31/kashmir-the-enriched-adventure-part-ii/