A two years posting in remote Sharifabad let us sneak around to some lovely places in the Kashmir region. Pahalgam, in the Anantnag district, was one such stolen trip. And twice over. For that matter, any drive around Jammu and Kashmir has been a show stopper as far as I am concerned. A drive along the National Highway 1A is a delight for the many scenic treats. There will be willow wood stacked in the sheds, left to be seasoned before being honed into cricket bats. Once you hit Pampore in the Anantnag district, vast stretches of ground kissing saffron fields will greet you. You could get off at any point on the road and take in the view, inhale the fresh air and just relax for a few minutes.
|Gujjarwal And his Lamb At Baisaran|
Our next stop was Betaab Valley just 15 kms away from Pahalgam, a picturesque expanse with the Lidder river flowing along forested banks. The water is crystal clear and chilly, shallow at many points for you to wade in. This is another good place to sit down for a picnic. Didn't I say that Lidder will be the perfect host? Many of you may know that this place got it's name from the Sunny Deol- Amrita Singh hit movie 'Betaab'. Don't know about the movie but this place will surely stay in your mind for a long long time.
In the evening, we strolled around the main road of this little town taking in the hustle and bustle of the busy tourist season. Couples, families, groups of friends out to find their share of togetherness in the lap of nature. River rafting on Lidder is a popular tourist activity as is angling for trouts. Then of course, there are the inevitable Kashmir handicraft kiosks luring the tourists with saffron to shawls.
Next day, we decided our place of relaxation to be Aru, 12 kms uphill. But our first stop was the centuries old Mamleshwara temple. The very entry to this little temple has an exotic feel with the climbing rose arching over the gate. Once you step inside, Mamleshwar stands before you, built of stones with a little porch supported by two pillars. A spring is said to originate under the temple whose water is collected in a stone tank in front of the temple. I would recommend this place as a little surprise or a visual treat for the traveller.
Aru is also the base camp for trekkers to the Kolhoi glacier, the biggest in the Kashmir valley. On our drive up, another pleasant climb, we came across little cottages and the gujjarwal huts by the river Aru, which is a tributary of Lidder. In the winters, Aru is frequented for skiing as well as heliskiing. With view of surrounding snow capped peaks, dense forest sloping down and lush meadows, it is a place where one can connect with the inner self, happy to be with their thoughts.
This post was written for the A to Z Challenge.