Kashmir: Paradise on Earth (Part 2)

Here goes Part 2 of the blissful vacations in Kashmir. This is where you can read Part 1 of the blog

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While roaming in Betaab Valley
So bags packed, we bid adieu to Srinagar and left for the surreal scenic Pahalgam after we visited Dal lake and some more gardens in Srinagar.
During the drive I realised those famous lines “Journey is as beautiful as the destination”. I dont know who said these lines, but  surely when you are on your way to Pahalgam, the journey is so mesmeric that you would want to keep halting at places to capture every scenery you see.
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Clicked on the way
Shareef, our driver who was now our guide to the unexplored locations in Kashmir told us about the enchanting journey to Sonmarg as he saw us (particularly Me) buzzing with excitement while I absorbed the beauty and asked him stories about the places. However, I got disappointed as we were not covering Sonmarg during this trip 😦

How far is Pahalgam from Srinagar: 2 Hr. 30 Mins Drive

The drive to Pahalgam took us about 2 hours 40 minutes because I kept asking Shareef to stop at “points” as he called them, to capture every bit of the picturesque places so I could relish them later back home!
After looking at some options in Pahalgam to stay; we decided to go for Pahalgam Hotel which happens to be one of the oldest properties there. It is a very cute and nicely maintained hotel and the staff is warm and courteous. They did every possible thing to make our stay comfortable.
We rested for a bit but I just couldnt resist the urge to go out in the garden area meters away from which the Lidder river was soothingly flowing and see the magnificent mountains in the backdrop. It was nothing less than a scenery or a painting that we used to draw as kids.
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On the way to Pahalgam
what made it look even alluring was the rains and the clouds which seemed to be balls of fur just within reach and as you try to catch them, there is nothing you can touch! Being a pluviophile, I was over joyed with this place.
Later post lunch at a nearby restaurant, we hired a cab to go to the most famous places: Betaab Valley, Aru Valley and Chandanwari.

Betaab Valley

Orginally known as Hagan Valley; Betaab valley got its new name after the movie “Betaab” was shot at this location. The movie was a blockbuster and the valley gained popularity too.
I captured Betaab Valley when we were going back from Pahalgam towards Gulmarg and this view just captivated my heart.
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Betaab Valley
The lidder river splits into two stream forming an island and then joins back. People were roaming around, capturing the beauty, taking selfies in paradise literally! I walked around alone and like any responsible parent my mom warned me not to go too far (knowing the crazy amateur photographer inside me).
I could breath fresh and it felt ecstatic. The breeze felt so fresh against my skin that I couldnt believe places like these still exist. Everyday while traveling in the metro and walking on roads full of dust; this place just felt like heaven to me.

Aru Valley

Next destination was Aru valley; quaint and just like I was reading a story book which talked a river, a wooden house and hills. Mesmeric and awed; I could just sit there and sketch and read and lie down and breath! Thats exactly how I felt. The drive to Aru valley is exceptionally picturesque, the Pine and Deodhar trees keep you up for clicking shots that you’d just have imagined and the river talks to you as you drive into the place. The enchanting green meadows, herds grazing at a distance, and the pristine breeze made us fall in love with the place.
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Aru Valley

Chandanwari

We then headed to Chandanwari, which is around 15 KM from Pahalgam. We saw frozen waterfalls and ice melting from the snow peaks. To our disappointment, it had started raining when we got to Chandanwari and hence we couldnt really roam around and witness the beauty. We waited for the rain to stop but in vain.
Chandanwari serves as the starting base for Amarnath Yatra.
The snow capped mountains, the guzzling river, and sweet people- Thats what sums up Pahalgam. You would never want to go back home. Had government not imposed some stringent laws which restrict people from buying property in Kashmir; I’d have surely built a small cottage and made it a vacation home!
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View from Pahalgam Hotel
We had a quiet dinner and sat in the garden at Pahalgam Hotel. And the absorbed the beauty of the place. For a while I forgot that its just a vacation and I have to get back to work soon; however, even getting back to the daily routine was making me feel enthused; such is the aura of the place.
The next morning, I woke up to the most scenic view where clouds were greeting us morning and the mountains were embracing us. I remember waking up excited and all smiling.
We had an amazing breakfast at the hotel. The staff constantly kept refilling our tea cups as we all except for my sister are tea addicts. After having the best meal of the day, we left for Gulmarg.
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All Snowy Gulmarg
So, Gulmarg and Pahalgam are on opposite directions and hence we had to go via Srinagar when we drove to Gulmarg from Pahalgam.
The Ski destination as described; one can see a different shades of nature depending on the time you are visiting the place. The snow capped mountains are delightfully alluring and when you find yourself walking on the snow, its a different experience altogether. We rented jackets and shoes and made our way to the destination.
This was the first time when I saw snow all around me. I was at a different level of ecstasy. However, the rented jackets seemed wasteful because even in the snow it was hot. We enjoyed the snowy times and saw several travellers like us  having a gala time too. Tourism remains the major source of income for people there so the travellers were hounded by the ones trying to make a living. They offered clicking pictures, helping you with skiing and even snow boarding.
Best Place to Stay in Gulmarg: The Khyber Himalayan Resort.
And do not miss out on the Gondola Ride (cable car ride).
Tip: Prebook the tickets for this; we missed out on the ride just because we hadnt pre-booked and the ticket counters were closed by the time we reached.
The next day we started for Srinagar as we had our flight back to Delhi in the evening. This was a moment of realisation that we would be bidding adieu to one of the most charming places in India and going back to the routine life.
We went to the local market and shopped. Since we were three dominant ladies; Dad of course was submissive and followed us from one shop to the other.
What to shop for: Dry Fruits, wooden handicrafts, Paper Mache stuff, and of course Saffron and Pashmina Shawls
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By the time we wrapped up our shopping escapades; we had to get an additional bag to pack the stuff we got. We drove around to find a vegetarian restaurant but didnt really put in alot of effort in finding one because we werent hungry.
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Shopping Times!
We were delighted by strolling in the lanes, shopping like a localite. We decided to get some munchies on the way to the airport. Finally saying good bye to the lovely Kashmir and thanking the place for giving us fondest memories of the most beautiful time spent with parents.
Myth: Kashmir is Unsafe
Fact: It is completely safe. The people are friendly and helpful. They are warm and do everything to make your stay comfortable and safe.

Pack your Bags and get going to Kashmir!

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