Jammu and Kashmir is a place where the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi saw a ray of hope for peace during the partition of India in the year 1947 when the entire country was on fire. A place where the founder of Jammu, Raja Jambu Lochan saw a lion and a Goat drinking water at one place on the bank of river Tawi. A real heaven on earth, is also a land of Peace, Tranquility, and Spirituality. A land of Rishies, Saints, Sufis, Peers, Faqeers, and Lamas, preaching the same eternal truth about love, Peacefull co-existence, and spirituality. A temple, a mosque, a gurudwara a church or a Gompa in every lane, mohalla or in every village is a testimony to the spiritual nature of the people of all shades as well as a testimony of the intense love and tolerance amongst various religious communities living and practicing their faith with full freedom. The ringing of the temple and church bells goes along with the Azan in the mosques and shabad kirtan in the Gurudwaras or Buddhist prayers in the gompas all along the day. No restrictions, there is full freedom for the people of every religion and which have co-existed for the centuries without any conflict.
This state is the best destination for tourism of all types, be it a pleasure tourism, religious tourism, adventure and sports tourism, cultural and heritage tourism and border tourism. One can come to enjoy and find satisfaction at any time or the season throughout the year.
In part-1 of the blog, we will cover mainly Kashmir which at present is full of greenery, flowers, and pleasant weather. There is a long list of places to be seen in Kashmir and same can be had from various sites on Google, and much has been written about their beauty by various people at various times. IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO EXPRESS BY WORDS THE ACTUAL BEAUTY OF KASHMIR. WORDS, HOWSOEVER FINE THEY MAY BE, ALWAYS FAIL TO FULLY APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY OF THE NATURE IN KASHMIR IN THE TRUE SENSE. NO CAMERA OR A MOVIE CAN CATCH THE BEAUTY OF THE COLORS OF THE NATURAL BEAUTY AS WELL AS THE FEEL OF THE PLEASANT WEATHER IN WHICH THIS BEAUTY FLOURISHES. SEEING IS BELIEVING AND NOTHING LESS THAN THAT; NO SUBSTITUTES TO PERSONALLY SEEING THE BEAUTY OF KASHMIR AND IT’S COMPOSITE CULTURE. There is hardly an inch of the place which is not worth seeing. Go anywhere in any season, you will find a difference from the rest of the world.
A visit to the world-famous Mughal gardens between mighty Himalayan cliffs on one side and glittering Dal lake on the other will never fade from your memory. You really experience a royal Mughal feeling when you are in these gardens. The singing sound of royal fountains and cascading water provides a soothing solace to your soul. A shikara ride in Dal lake through the floating market and to beauty spots like Char Chinar and Nehru park give you a feeling of heavens in the true sense. Staying in luxurious Houseboat with facilities matching a five-star culture is beyond imagination. The magnificent wood carvings on the walls and beautiful designs of Khatamband on the roofs of houseboats are a treat to eyes as this art and craft exist only in Kashmir. A long line of houseboats in Dal lake on the majestic royal boulevard road is a scene to watch both during the day as well as night.
A scenic view of the whole of Srinagar city from the hill of Shankaracharya temple as well as that of river Jehlam is worth seeing. The lush green Royal Spring Golf course having 18 holes created between the evergreen thick cover of Cedar trees is an example of creating a sports facility without disturbing the ecology and the environment. Tulip Garden, Dachigam, Chashma Shahi, Parimahal, Herbal Garden, Badaam veir, Hari Parbat and many beautifully maintained parks will add value to your life experience. If you are religious minded, you have a lot in Srinagar city itself. Jeshta Devi temple near Parimahal, Hanuman temple on the banks of Jehlam near Harisingh high street, Kheer Bhawani temple, A revered Shrine of Peer-e- Dastgeer at Khanyar Srinagar, Maqdoom Sahib, Baba Reshi, Dargah Charar-e-Sharif, Dargah Hazratbal which contains a holy relic, the Moi-Muqqadus, believed by Muslims to be a hair of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH);The list is numberless. Gurudwara Chatti Patshahi Sahib in Rainawari area in the heart of Srinagar and many churches, temples, and Sufi shrines are a symbol of mutual trust, respect, tolerance and universal brotherhood amongst the various religions, which have lived and developed peacefully in Kashmir.
Out of the city, you have a choice to visit different world famous places like Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonmarg, Aharbal, Doodpathri, Shikargah, Martand sun temple, Aru valley, and Betab valley near Pahalgam, Kokarnag, Achhabal, Varinag, Yousmarg etc. etc. It all depends on the time you have at your disposal, otherwise, there is no dearth of places of your interest in Kashmir. There are still virgin lands and places still unexplored, which can keep you engaged for life. KASHMIR IS A REAL HEAVEN ON EARTH WHICH YOU CAN FEEL ONLY IF YOU SEE IT WITH YOUR OWN EYES. IT WILL KEEP YOU ENGAGED THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. In summer the mighty chinar trees welcome you with their green sight and pleasing shade, and in winter the color of leaves turns to magnificent yellow and red like fire. Winter sports like Skiing and Skating in Gulmarg during winters and Gandola (Ropeway or Cable car) ride throughout the year is an experience to personally feel and enjoy. A rail ride from Qazigund to Baramulla, especially during the winters when the entire valley gets covered with a thick white blanket of snow has no match in the world.
PEOPLE:- Kashmir part of the state is dominated mainly by Muslim population with Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, as well as Buddist living side by side in a minority since ages. Kashmiris are simple, innocent, but very intelligent people. Compassion and hospitality are in their blood. The long turmoil of about three decades has failed to make any dent in their long tradition of compassion and hospitality. They are very sentimental and would gather to help you in case of any trouble without any consideration, or any fear. The incidences of their helping even the army in case of severe accidents and giving blood to the injured soldiers, as well as arranging funerals of persons of the other religions have actually happened but are very less reported in the Media. Many negative things are reported more aggressively and good things are ignored.
If you get a chance to be a guest in someone’s house for a lunch or dinner, more particularly during the wedding season where special traditional vegetarian, as well as non-vegetarian cuisines of dozens of varieties locally called as Wazwan are served with great love and personal care. You can’t imagine the intensity of love and hospitality with which you are served food. The old lady of the house who has cooked the food or under whose supervision the food has been cooked will personally come to serve you the dish, complaining that you did not eat properly and they could not serve you the choicest cuisines. All she speaks is in Kashmiri which you don’t understand at all but from the tone, love, concern, and sincerity with which she speaks, even a kid would understand. Love requires no words to express it. This is what is available only in Kashmir and nowhere else in the rest of the world. IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE TRUE HOSPITALITY, COME TO KASHMIR AS THIS NATURAL TRAIT EXISTS ONLY IN THIS PART OF THE WORLD.
The pilgrimage to the abode of Lord Shiva in the snowy Himalayas by more than half a million Hindu devotees every year during a brief period known as Shri Amarnath ji yatra, and which is mainly managed and supported by the Muslims is a true example of universal brotherhood. Similarly, Mela Kheer Bhawani held every year with the active support of local Muslims speaks volumes about the true and composite culture of Kashmir, more precisely known as Kashmiriyat.
There are some disturbances sometimes which are blown out of proportion but, are the disturbances not happening almost everywhere on the globe? NO ONE CAN DENY THE FACT THAT HALF OF THE HEART OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR BEATS ACROSS THE SO-CALLED LINE OF CONTROL, CREATED AFTER THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE COUNTRY WHEN THE INVADERS CAPTURED A MAJOR PART OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR AND IS STILL UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE OTHER COUNTRY. Some disturbances, as are happening elsewhere, do sometimes happen here as well but these are worth ignoring by the visitors and tourists in the interest of the beauty and the rich culture of Kashmir. We all need to project all good things about Jammu and Kashmir in order to negate the stigma which is being attached to this Heaven on Earth by some vested interests. The government has to make efforts to showcase the rich culture of this land of angels and not allow the same to be mixed with other cultures. Local and traditional music with the enthralling and sweet tones of Rabaab, Tumbak, Doul, and Santoor should be promoted by holding shows at hotels or at some central place where the tourists can enjoy their richness in the evening. More hotels with local touch should be opened where a visitor can feel the touch of Kashmir culture. New places of tourist’s interest need to be explored and thrown open for them. More infrastructure has to be provided in order to attract more and more tourists……………..to be continued as part 2.