“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.” ― Tom Hiddleston
This quote is perfect for those wandering souls, who are a a little wild at heart and are ready to make their own ways.
This quote came true when I was in Kashmir and I was looking for some of those typical tourist destinations. And I was convinced that I will only cover those places and come back, since I was travelling solo and thought it won’t be safe to go anywhere else.
But fate had a different role to play!
One morning, while experimenting with Kashmiri ‘Nun Chai’, I was having a conversation with my hotel manager in Srinagar and he told me “Madame go to Pahalgam, very beautiful!”
The traveller in me, said “Why not”. That’s the beginning of it!
I thought of doing a little research, I came across this page and was totally up for it.
This place is not for those who cannot do without electricity!
One of the most unexplored places of Kashmir, known for its panoramic view and virgin beauty, does not get a lot of tourists because of this electricity issue.
I decided not to stay in that Jammu and Kashmir tourism guest house, the only place. My choice of accommodation was staying at a local farmer’s house, Rahim.
I met him while coming to Chatpal. Now, there is no direct bus to Chatpal, of course you can hire a jeep, but travelling with the local people gives you a better idea of that place and I always emphasise on this. If you are travelling alone, talking to people sometimes can get you into trouble but most of the times the opposite happens, like I got a place to stay.
Kashmiris are very sweet people, a bit conservative but very helpful.
I spent two nights in Chatpal and it was amazing. The super cold nights, the amazing sunrise and evenings, which were spent around campfire.
Rahim’s son, a 12 year old boy, is the most strict guide I have ever came across. He took me every nook and corner of that ‘fairy-tale’ village.
More than the place’s beauty, I will miss Rahim’s family.
After Chatpal I started for Pahalgam. It is beautiful!
The serenity of this place, the roaring river, right next to the tourism bungalow, is amazing. I loved the mornings in this place. The sun rises, with the light reflecting on the mountain next to my guest house. As the sun goes higher, each section of the mountain will get the light, as if the mountain is also waking up with each ray of the sun.
Pahalgam is very near to Chandanwadi, the first base camp to Amarnath Yatra. So, I thought of giving it a try and decided to go to Chandanwadi.
Here’s the twist, I lost my way and reached this magical land of Aru.
Aru is a small mysterious village, very few people stays here. While walking along the streets of Aru, you can only see some rosy-cheeks peeping out of their windows and the moment you wave at them, they will vanish inside their houses. People in this village are very shy!
This is is the village where pink coloured wild roses grow, along the side of the streets. No one plucks it, no one destroys them, this village actually made us realise why Kashmir is ‘Paradise on Earth’.
You can of course stay at Aru, there is only one guest house there. I did not spend my night there and I regret doing that!
Kashmir Valley Trek
Ever rode a horse on a steep mountain? Like a proper 90 degree angle?
That’s Kashmir Valley for you!
The second Morning in Pahalgam, I decided to go for this trek. I planned with a ‘ghodawala’, the person who will help me riding the horse, and he told me he will come to receive me early in the morning, around 5.
I was thrilled, first because of the trek and second the cold morning. The cold in Kashmir can freeze your bones, yes, it can actually do that!
The Kashmir Valley is a very steep valley and not meant for walking, not at all. So, it cannot be a called a trek, it can be called a trekking done on horse or by the horse!
In the valley, I started feeling very cold and we stopped in a local villager’s house.
A family of two children and their mother, the lady was a typical Kashmiri, with beautiful eyes and sharp nose. She offered me ‘Nun Chai’ and a ‘kangri’, the traditional heater of Kashmir.
After feeling a little better I asked my ‘ghodawala’, Maqsood, to take me back.
I won’t encourage you to the same stupidity, like me, complete the whole valley because it’s beautiful and worth a try. But if you have vertigo or breathing problems, I won’t recommend you this trip.
There are a lot of offbeat places in Kashmir. Do explore!
A well researched trip is always the best. It is always a new experience when you arrange for your own accommodations, but if you are not comfortable then you can try travel agencies or go through plans.
And if you are in Kashmir, try their food. Here’s to give you an idea about traditional Kashmiri food.