Wednesday, 1 July 2015

It’s Easy To Fall In Love With Srinagar!

I had no idea I’d love Srinagar so much! I thought it would merely be a doorway to explore the other places of Kashmir. But, I found Srinagar absolutely charming. It has its own quirks and nuances that I began discovering right from day one. Some people may get exasperated by the usual bustle of shops and vehicles, but there’s a calm side to Srinagar that remains unruffled.  

My sightseeing in Srinagar was more about knowing its people and observing their traditional way of living. I chose to skip the Mughal gardens, for I knew I wouldn’t gain anything there. What I wanted to discover about Srinagar was there on the streets, in the market alleys and in the little pleasantries that I exchanged with the locals. 

Dal Lake

I’m happy to share some of my best experiences in Srinagar –

The ‘lush’ boulevard walk

There’s a sophisticated air to Srinagar, which you get acquainted to as you walk along the Boulevard road. It’s a long tree-lined street that has quite a few security guards posted, for it’s a ‘high society’ area. If you keep going further ahead, there’s chief minister’s residence that you will pass by. But, that’s not so important. What I loved about the Boulevard road is the lushness of trees, golf course, the apple orchards and the fresh aroma they exuded.

The Boulevard Road 

Spotting bakeries everywhere

I am a big confectionery lover and Srinagar has quite an eminent bakery culture. So, there couldn’t be an easier way to woo me. I couldn’t resist the temptation of noshing on the traditional plum cakes that Kashmiris enjoy with tea. (I’ll write a separate post on the food in Kashmir)

Bakery culture of Srinagar

Sneaking in to a cherry farm

Devouring cherries right from a cherry tree was the best thing I did in Kashmir. It was my guest house manager, who suggested that I should visit his farmhouse in the outskirt of Srinagar. I’m glad I accepted his invitation! Though the farmhouse was in a rundown state, the cherries were in full bloom. And yes, they were delicious.

If that was not enough, I also had a chance to sneak into a big cherry farm, where they grow cherries for the market. The caretaker allowed me to take pictures and also dumped a huge bunch of cherries in my hand.

A Cherry Farm near Srinagar
It's a farm managed by the horticulture department of Kashmir.
A private farm house of New World Guest House 

My ‘solo’ Shikara ride

Dal Lake turned out to be much bigger than my imagination and it captivated me in an instant, though I was a bit let down by the cemented pavement that they have built. But, I have to say that despite the commercialisation around the lake, it has its charisma intact.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the ‘classic’ Shikara ride. I kept brushing aside the Shikara riders until one day, one of them managed to convince me. He charged me way (INR 300) less than what is usually charged (INR 500). Forget about the rate though, for the Shikara ride was a blissful experience. I highly recommend it to anybody going to Srinagar.

Apparently, everybody around was amused to see me taking the ride alone. But, I felt like a queen and I just savoured the moment. 

Shopping on Shikara
Can you resist taking a ride?

Conversations with Kashmiris

The most enriching aspect of my journey in Srinagar was my conversations with Kashmiris. From quick chit-chats to endless tête-à-têtes, I had interactions with quite a lot of people. Most people were happy to see me in Srinagar. They were delighted about the fact that someone really cared to know them.

The usual words I got to hear in Srinagar were ‘aram se’ (sure) and ‘koi baat nahi’ (no problem).

A conversation over a cup of tea
... few conversations just go on
Shops on Dal Lake

The ‘Purdah’ auto rides

My everyday auto rides were also quite an experience. The autos in Srinagar have doors and curtains. Though I knew it’s something to do with tradition, I still asked an auto guy about the purpose of a door. He explained it to me very sweetly that it was meant to keep dust away and also to protect women from unwanted attention. Well, I simply smiled about it because I hadn’t seen such a provision anywhere else in India.

One of the scenic corners of Srinagar

Pari Mahal for city views

If there’s any place from where you can grasp the entire city of Srinagar through your eyes, it’s the top of Pari Mahal. Besides being a great vantage point, Pari Mahal is a lovely place to chill out, romance and watch the sun set (if there are no clouds, of course).

But, it’s not very economical to reach there. The auto guys charge a whopping fee (INR 500) for a return drive. As a solo traveller, it was a bit expensive for me.

Pari Mahal

What do you have to say? Is Srinagar the kind of city you’d love to visit?

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  1. Have been to Srinagar many times for official work , 100% agreed with you.

  2. Another very well written article and a trip well done as well.Congratulations.

    1. Thanks Piyush! Yeah, it was wonderful knowing Srinagar.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Kalp anaa! :-) I hope they inspired you to buy a ticket to Kashmir. ;-)

  4. The photos are brilliant. No matter how many times I see I wish to watch it again and again. Thanks to Queen. :)

    1. Thank you, Tushar! :-) I still don't feel my lens has done enough justice to this paradise on earth. I wish to go there again!

  5. Another captivating post! My eyes were glued to it from start to end. Thank you. Keep sharing :)

    1. Thanks Moon! I'm glad to hear that. :-) Yes, there's still lots to share from Kashmir!

  6. I got hooked on that awesome cherry farm because I love eating that fruit so much.

    1. Kristy, you must visit Kashmir and enjoy cherries as much as you like!

  7. Your decision of skipping mugal garden was right, can say with my experience.

    Keep travelling , keep sharing.

    1. Thanks Mahesh! I would have visited the one where they grow tulips, but it's not the season of tulips yet. So, I thought to skip it for now.

  8. Awesome Clicks......Nice post for readers about travel and entertainment.

  9. Thanks for the lovely and beautiful post.
    Totally had a virtual blissful experience.
    Need to plan a trip to enjoy in real.

    1. Yes, you definitely need to plan a trip to Kashmir! I hope my blog helps you do that! :-)

  10. Yes yes yes!! I'd love to go to Srinagar!! The way you've described it reminds me so much of Lahore.... only smaller, quieter and sweeter. I'd truly love to go there one day!!

    And that cherry farm - wow!! The mountains behind it. Spectacular.

    1. Thanks Tim :-) I'm so happy to hear that! I sincerely hope you get to visit Kashmir soon.

  11. Food is looking AMAZING! Wow, I wish to visit sometime in the future :)

    Please check out my blog too -

    Please post more! Love it :)

  12. hi renuka, i am amit vaishampayan from mumbai. I am in to tourism business since last 8 yrs. like you, i also travel to untouched / new places alone or just like wht you said, with ppl of same interest. some time for holiday or some time for my work. keep in touch so that we can inform each other about future trips & make plans if possible.

    Ksheetij tours (proprietor)
    Amit Vaishampayan
    +91 9987019161


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