My Shangri-La under the summer moon, I will return again
Surely like the dust that hovers high in June, when it moves through Kashmir….
Here’s what Led Zepplin had to say for Kashmir. A place that equalized the imaginations of kings, poets, rock stars and saints. But I often wonder if Jammu & Kashmir has really caught up as a travel destination apart from the Dal Lake and those blunders beloved by media places.
While the city of Rajasthan made an obvious choice for our top pick as a destination with something for every one of the five senses, my thoughts lingered on Kashmir. A place so rich in culture and its sheer beauty that it simply claimed its spot for the second post in the series. Trying to stay away from the obvious and familiar, let me take you through another ride of the very beautiful valley of Jammu & Kashmir. Starting with, eyes.
Read also: Jammu and Kashmir: 3 Days-3 Cities
If you happen to meet a genius for the trip to Kashmir, ask for another pair of eyes. Yes, because there is so much to stare at that one set of eyes simply isn’t enough. Watch the sun take a dip in the waters of Nagin Lake, or enjoy the infinite beauty of the gondola ride at Gulmarg. Or maybe, sleep in a meadow. If none of the above, rent a bicycle and go along the roads with Chinar trees as guards.
They’re in, they’re in
Whenever I think of Jammu & Kashmir, an intoxicating smell comes to mind. Sleek yet subtle. It makes your head blurry, but with a softness perhaps reminiscent of the mother’s touch on your forehead in the fever. I’m asking you to roll down the car windows (rather a bike) as you meander around Gulmarg, as there are acres of wildflowers dancing in the wind. And uh… there’s Pampore, where a highly nimble, vertigo-inducing scent of saffron will make you fall in love with just about anything!
Hush, saying “calories” is forbidden
Yes Yes. “Calories” is a word best suited for metropolitans. In any case, Kashmir and Kashmiris do not adhere to this word. For those who like it, there is a simple word – Wazwan. It is a multi-course specialty of the state including Rogan Josh, Dum Olav, Goshtaba, Yakhni and more. And if you’re really really concerned about all those calories, there’s Kahwa, a tea that only the people of Kashmir can brew. The recipe is a closely guarded secret; yet you can have a cup (i say jugs) full of it when you are here.
From poetry, folk music, Sufism and more
This is the land of Lal Ded, better known as Lalla. A poet, who wrote verses so deep that they became music. What would you expect from such a country? Sufism and folk music (remember a beloved instrument known as chakri?) still reigns in Jammu & Kashmir, giving some earthy out of the world melodies. Hike to a remote village to hear the musical rendition of the story Laila Majnu, or sit next to a fakir who breaks into the occasional song. Trust me, there’s plenty of that stuff here.
Coming to the sense of touch, I must say that you would definitely be touched by the warmth of the people of this state. But since we are talking about things more tangible, let me tell you about the indescribable softness of the state’s famous cashmere wool. Plus, there is pashmina. Yes, it is not forbidden. What is forbidden Shahtooshoften confused with pashmina. Pack in a muffler or wrap for the grandma waiting at home. If nothing else, you would be touched by her honest, perhaps toothless smile.
As you go on this 5 Senses trip, let us know if you find it as interesting as we do. Plus, share your ideas, feedback and more. Meanwhile, we look for the next selection in the series. Have fun traveling.