Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nomadic travel in ladakh

Ladakh has been home to nomads & traders coming from central Asia. the barren scenery and grasslands keeps the life going for the nomads who reside in the valleys of ladakh. I discovered on my last visit how nomads survive in the Ladakh's high interiors raising their cattle.  These nomads are very tough and sober. They like to live in their community and aren't much concerned about the world.  After my usual stay  in leh i went into the depths of changthang region, a home to changpa nomads. who stay out most of the time looking for pastures and green lands. at an average elevation of 4,700 m, the Changthang (meaning Northern Plateau in Tibetan language), is a high altitude desert. castled in an alluring landscape, along with vast beauty and starkness, unforgiving terrain with high bare mountains.
changpa woman tending the goats during winter season  in ladakh..


Due to the snowfall the nomads get trapped in some of the places for months. Doing  "yakze" or grazing their yaks on whom they rely a lot in winters they have to take them away in the mountains and keep an eye on them so the pack of Tibetan wolves won't eat them up. In this hard work some strong men of the community take turns to guard the yaks and sleep under the starry sky without shelter. It is a usual sight for them to wake up in morning and see their sleeping bags covered with snow. Changpa tribal's heavily depend on their livestock. They do barter for meat, pashmina, etc their fuel is yak dung. They make the most use of yak for transportation, it's  the ultimate source of meat, milk, wool the tents are made from it's wool & hide.

a household duty of a housewife to take care of their cattle

 Things haven't changed for these nomads they are as difficult as they used to be hundred years ago, how technology & globalization will help them as they live in the sea of isolation and posses their own world were each day  begins with a new adventure for the survival.  
young changpa boy learning the skills of survival amid the harsh climate






Their children don't go to school because there are no schools to go to, clinging to their age old traditions, doing what their ancestors were used to do. living the same life and sharing the stories of wolves & snow leopards with their children and the isolation and the surreal beauty around them of which they form an  essential part. They don't want to cease away with their life and give up roaming in the mountains of changthang.

portrait of old changpa, after years of hard work & toil in this deserted land
The remoteness is their biggest enemy a big hindrance and they don't want to accept new ways of life, They believe in nomadic life, a life without settlements, a urge to seek new pastures for their cattle and new homes for them, there in the mountains where there is a blue turquoise lake dotted with white fluffy cranes and other birds who come their for migration. The changpa's are brave & strong enough to withstand any harsh climates they love freedom & the way they live.  Our ladakh tour packages will provide you an incredible opportunity to visit & spent time with these Nomads. for more information about kashmir ladakh do visit ladakh this year with your family for ladakh family tour

Monday, July 7, 2014

Colors of kashmir in autumn

Kashmir is known for it's four seasons it is only place in India which has spring, summer, autumn & winter. Most tourists plan  kashmir tour in summer  because of the scorching heat in other destinations of India. Here summers are filled with mild sunshine & cool breeze. During autumn months of September to November the tourist arrival rates dips & hence it is considered a off season.

Taking a kashmir trip in autumn can be a very good choice as it's very pretty at that time of the year.  In the fall huge chinar trees shed their leaves like rain. people collect this foliage to make fire. leaves slowly dance as they fall gracefully swirling like little birds fallen asleep in their flight. Heaps of leaves can be seen on the ground kids like to play and jump in these heaps and get buried underneath & when they pop out crisp leaves get cliched to their clothes and hair. The Dal lake looks very beautiful with brightly lit lamps colorful canopy of shikaras provide a contrast against blue waters. These shikaras or boats ferry the lake dwellers & school kids in the early morning. sattara, gaffara, sula, comes the voices across the jetty through the thin frosty air, The road to shankracharya temple winds up along the fir plantations in many turns and twists. The tall radio tower stands next to the temple i have seen it there since my childhood. The incommensurable kashmiri beauty has kept me attached since i was born in this land. With the changing seasons kashmir transforms into a magical land. Tulips grow and bloom in the spring, cherry trees are laden with the fruits and the mughal gardens look grand with their chinar trees and fountains splashing water. The houseboats stay busy with tourists enjoying warm sunbathe on the deck. for further reading about autumn in kashmir

I see a vast blanket of maroon leaves spread across the acres of land and the large dome of sky above illuminating in parts, here a patch of clouds there a red line drawn across the huge mass of fog and the sun. This is autumn in Kashmir a season which i  love the most. Autumn is believed to personify a old age it is a time when the trees become bare, naked, leaves change their colors. Same happens with the human life after a prime of youth old age withers the beauty & our health deteriorates.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

ladakh valley

The valley of ladakh is a great place to be in summers,when your kids have summer vacation you should plan a ladakh trip.the good time to visit ladakh is from month of ending may to September,during these months the beautiful land of ladakh offers great views.the climate of ladakh is moderate cool with dry air especially when you go to nubra and pangong.leh town is a small busy town with a big market selling ladakhi and kashmiri handicrafts,if you want to do shopping in ladakh then buy the tankas and wooden tables which you can also see in monastery the colorful dragons are painted on these table.the other thing to buy is a small bowl called singing bowl.this bowl is used for meditation by monks.they put water inside it and then they rub the  wood bar in circular motion from the outside the bowl.the water in bowl sprinkles with the sound and waves produced by the bowl it is a great thing to purchase.

leh highway


there are two highways to reach ladakh one is from manali via rothang pass and sarchu the other is from Kashmir via zojilla & kargil.there is also airport in leh which receives daily flights from Delhi.leh ladakh is a mystic and pure land of lamas.its beauty has always shone everywhere,the desert and barren landscape is due to the very less rainfall in this region.ladakh tour can be bit difficult for some people who have problem with high altitude.it is recommended to rest for few days to adjust your body to high altitude before taking any trips further to nubra or pangong lake.





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Monday, May 19, 2014

Winter In Kashmir


The weather of Kashmir is a mixture of seasons, throughout the year seasons come and go but they provide a graceful beauty and alluring landscape to this valley called paradise. There are four seasons in Kashmir spring, summer, autumn, winter. usually people love all the seasons they are happy in spring when the birds tweet  and yellow flowers pop out from the ground, everything is vigorous and full of energy. The summer is hot and people go to places like sonmarg, pahalgam,gulmarg with their families to spend some time there on the banks of lidder river where the cool water comes from melted snow high up in mountains and the cool air passes from the pine jungles dense and green, the other season of autumn is beautiful where huge chinars shed their bright red leaves. The winter brings three things to kashmiri people one is (phiren) A long woolen poncho worn by men and women alike though different in style and design. The kangri, and long beard, people keep the beard to keep their faces warm from the cold wind. The coming of winter brings worries to people because it is the only season not much liked by the kashmiri people. winter is cold and damp. The cold winds make the people unhappy and usually people get up late in morning & don't like to go to work the days are shorter.and the sun is bleak, but the only companion of people is the fire pot called kangri in kashmiri. This kangri saves people from biting cold and harsh winter. The kangri is made of clay pot  woven by twigs from outer side. The burning coal and ash is put inside the clay pot to remain hot for long time. It has been introduced long back in Kashmir and was very successful because it is portable, durable and good source of heat, it is also cheap. So every one can afford be it rich or poor. These days the rich people have build (ham-mam) in their houses it is a room with hollow base made of large flat stones the fire wood is put inside from the external small door in the hollow area of the room. The wood burns and the stones get hot. when the snow falls and electricity is very scarce the people of Kashmir depend totally on kangri. The month of December to march is the time of winter & this winter is divided in three phases the first is called chlai kalan it  is extreme cold period of forty days starting from 21 December and ending 31 January. During this phase of winter lot of people get sick due to cold. In winters the facilities are very limited owing to the closure of jammu Kashmir highway due to heavy snow & avalanches , the cooking gas, medicine, vegetables, and other necessary utilities get very limited. In winters lot of people migrate from Kashmir, people go to Delhi, Kolkatta, Punjab to sell shawls and other kashmiri handicrafts. The government employees  go to jammu, the winter capital the government secretariat is  also moved to jammu, the people who work in it have to move to jammu, it is a very hard job as shifting the whole secretariat to jammu it's difficult many documents are lost and everything becomes haywire.


snow valley


chashma shahi

The second phase of winter is called chill bacha it begins after the end of chlaikalan this chilbacha starts from the month of Feb and lasts till late march.during this period it is cold, frost, beating rain and snow. The beauty of winter is a attraction to the European tourists who come here to ski in gulmarg. It has some of the best ski slopes with all modern facilities good accommodation available.from past  few years the heli skiing has been introduced in gulmarg. It is very cheap it costs little more than U.S 100$  for one turn. chopper takes the skier high up in the mountains of affarwat and from there the skier's come down hill accompanied with ski guide. The gondola is also a better replacement for heli skiing it also takes skiers to high mountains and from there they can come down.Skiing in kashmir is a great adventure activity for everyone, beautiful valleys of gulmarg are covered with snow throughout the winter.the Indian domestic tourists on their Kashmir tour also love to visit gulmarg, as they have been raised in plains and seeing snowfall has been their lifelong dream these tourists bear all the cold and they stay in gulmarg and enjoy their life long dreams of seeing and playing in snow they roll themselves on the white carpet of snow throw piles of snow at each other, take pictures they become very merry. The local people of kashmir stay indoor while it is snowing except the kids they play  in snow with their bare hands and boots of rubber their cheeks get more red or a shade of cherry and they wore their kontapas a monkey cap,they like to make snowmen and igloo of the soft snow the kids play (shinjung) which is a battle of snow making balls of snow in hands and throwing on each other.naughty kids shove snow through the collar of kids sending waves of cold across their body.more naughty kids do shitting on the clean white snow then wipe their ass with soft snow.     


kid playing in snow


hut under snow


Adults cook mutton and enjoy a special dish called harisa it is also made of mutton, it keeps them warm, the nunchai and kashmiri kawha which is a tea made on plain water and flavored by saffron & almonds is a treat to have during snow falls. The children complete their winter vacations as their schools are shut down for three months. Winter has it's own charm and beauty, people living in houseboats face a hard winter because in the lake or river the wind rises from water and it becomes more cold and the boats unlike houses have thin layers of  wood wall so the cold wind penetrates this wood and comes in their rooms. They get up in morning and find the lake frozen, they have to brake the frozen lake and make a way for their small shikara to pass so they could buy milk & bread from the shop across the lake they call to their servants or fellow neighbors to help them satara, gula, nisara, the crisp sound of breaking  ice sheets on water  like glass with their wooden paddles and the early morning frost icicles dangling from roofs of houseboats  add to the rich beauty of this valley.


For local people the business for these winter months is very low because people don't shop for these months nor there are any marriages during winter. people declare winter as off season.

As i look into the thick snow flakes that are falling on the tall green firs close behind my house i can imagine a moose coming  from the woods and playing there and the sunlight has already  faded away the darkness is gathering around me but the snow looks bright and clear in the dim light, i remember many beautiful memories of my childhood.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Growth of tourism in kashmir

on way to pahalgam
Kashmir has seen a good growth of tourists since the beginning of this century from year 2000.in early nineties since the militancy started in the valley those ten years were very harsh and gave people enormous sufferings and unemployment.the main resources of earning for Kashmir were handicrafts like carpets,shawls,papermachie,wood work and leather goods.other big industry was tourism and fruit sector like exporting of apples,almonds,walnuts,saffron,etc. in early nineties what happened the Kashmir youth took to armed rebellion against Indian forces located in Kashmir their main aim was independence from India. Pakistan helped to send money and ammunition,eventually there was bloodshed and the tourists were scared to visit the valley.India sent thousands of troops to Kashmir & it became a highly unsecured place such things happened like hotels & many private properties were occupied by army,lot of bunkers were erected on every street of Srinagar,lot of houses were gutted down and many innocent people were killed.the people like the houseboat owners had to sell their boats and look for other source of income.many people left Kashmir and went to many Indian states to do job or business Kashmir became a barricade or war.

dallake after sunset


rainy day at dallake

me at the banks of dal

houseboats in dallake

Since the year 2000 the things began to slow down and peace prevailed in the valley,due to which some of the few Indian tourists came to visit Kashmir.slowly year after year the number of tourists increased in the valley and as people knew that Kashmir is getting safe they were not scared to come so these seven years proved fruitful except some minor incidents but no tourist was harmed or killed.then in the year 2008 there was a land row on amaranth and this time instead of the armed rebellion the people of Kashmir took to peaceful protests against the government.the huge protests were the crowd of masses coming down on streets,but unfortunately the police and crpf were unable to handle & scared of the crowd of people had to fire and lot of people got injured and killed among the victims were some young men.the people were fueled with anger so they became anti government and the huge agitations took place.then this land dispute was settled by some agreements.so the next year 2009 also brought a very tragic incident,In a apple town of shopian two girls were raped then brutally killed a high inquiry was brought to solve the case and till this date the culprits who did this hideous crime are roaming freely in the society.people believed that this had been done by some minister or his relatives that was the reason this case was left unfinished.

The year 2010 was also not good there were huge protests on killing of few young boys by crpf,these boys were innocent and were studying in school.the killing of these boys led to huge protests and then more people were killed and within few weeks the numbers rose above hundred.govt has to impose curfew in the valley only it was removed in evening for one or two hours.after a lot of protests the normalcy returned in the valley & in 2011 lot of tourists visited Kashmir and this year was very successful for every businessmen.nothing happened this year.2012 was other successful year the most productive year in the decade 2012 saw a huge rush of tourists from India and abroad all hotels and houseboats were booked there was no availability in guests houses or any home stay i have seen it my self tourists sleeping in bus as they couldn't get accommodation.2012 also saw a lot of development in other sectors like to accommodate the tourists lot of new hotels and guest houses were built,the handicraft sector bloomed as tourists like to shop here in Kashmir they buy shawls papermachie and carpets.

lots of restaurants and other shops opened to serve the tourists hence reducing the unemployment which had plagued Kashmir for a long time.If  we had more tourists like this next year kashmiri economy will be powerful and unemployment will be drastically reduced,the most benefit of tourists is that this money revolves in every hand from hotel owner to taxi driver to pony walla,Indian people have changed their life style they spend good amount of money on travel even middle class families,so domestic tourism is a good target for kashmiri travel agents.other thing is that we have to provide good services and do fair business and treat our guests like our family then we will be successful & i hope the coming years will be safe and the kashmiri people will start a new life with a new beginning.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Save dallake save future of kashmir a report



a view of dallake from pari mahal

The dallake is the most splendid & beautiful lake in the capital city of Srinagar, it is located app 2kms to the north east of Srinagar.this deep lake is fed by many natural springs and few rivulets which pour in it near a village called taelbal.it is 6.4 kms wide from north to south and 4kms east to west.in the year 1884 the Dal was double of it's present size.at present it has shrunk further due to the encroachment.the water of the lake was so clear that people used to drink it and the kashmiri shawls and pashmina was washed in it to protect their bright colors it was very clean then,but now the water has become dirty and unhealthy because of huge quantity of sewage and garbage that go in it.now this lake is dying at very fast speed,dumping of garbage,cultivation of vegetables in & around Dal sewage water that flows in Dal,the uses of pesticides are causing havoc to this lake.


resident of  the lake

As there is a large population living on this lake so lot of garbage and pollutants go in it further weeds add to its misery.the LAWDA department (lakes and waterways development authority) has been plagued by corruption though they get lot of money by central govt and foreign agencies for cleaning & maintaining the beauty of this lake,but unfortunately these black sheep feed their own families on that money and only 3 to 5 percent of the money is spent on the cleaning of lake.the corrupt government of Kashmir has also played a major part in the decay of the Dal.

The director today addressed to people who were invited in the meeting to take this task on their own shoulders and don't expect much help from government,as we all know said the director that the dallake is a center of attraction in Srinagar,tourists come here they stay in beautiful houseboats & hotels around Dal and imagine if Dal will become a garbage dumping pit  no tourist will stay in Srinagar,Dal is a future of Kashmir look how many people earn in this lake from tourists ranging from houseboat owner to a small poor vendor who sells fruit or vegetable in a shikara.we have to save this place for our next generations to come,see how in many foreign countries they maintain their lakes and rivers the people love their country and they keep it clean so we have to do the same thing here.

No doubt Dal is the heart of Kashmir it is internationally known for it's beauty and houseboats,we should educate our people to take some time from their busy schedule and clean Dal voluntarily we should organize some campaigns were every person from each house should come and help in cleaning the Dal.if we don't come and didn't do it our self the Dal will be the thing of past buried in history.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pahalgam trip

I love to go on Pahalgam tour, It is a great place to see the natural beauty when i am in Kashmir, i usually visit there with my friends.below is the account of a tour of pahalgam when i was there with my group of friends.before going further i recommend this place for people coming for their honeymoon in Kashmir.

The rain slides on the window panes of our hotel room i can see the fog and rainbow near the mountains.After finishing my  tea i could see the clouds sandwiched between the mountains and blue sky. the water level of the river has increased since last night.when we reached pahalgam yesterday it was a bright and sunny beautiful day the cool wind raising from the gushing cold  river water  welcomed us.when we started from Srinagar via pampore we could see the vast saffron fields on our both sides.the men and women were picking saffron flowers in their small woven baskets.they were singing kashmiri folk songs and talking merrily.their faces were bright and laughing in the sun with pink shades on their cheeks.later we stopped in avantipora where we saw a temple built of huge blocks of stones local people say it was built by the pandawa's but it seems a ancient sun temple same as i had seen in naranag.it has a small flower garden attached to it. later as we drove from this place we stopped at bat factories were bats are manufactured a shop owner told me they export their bats to England and Australia.kashmiri willow makes finest cricket bats they have good demand in Indian markets.we purchased some bats from them and we proceeded further to pahalgam just  few kms before pahalgam there is a ancient shrine of  ashmukam it has a small cave in it.lot of devotees visit there.we offered prayers in the shrine and we made our way to pahalgam.

Our hotel which is more like a bunch of cottages is located right above the beetab valley a famous spot for many retro Bollywood movies.right across the hotel are huge green mountains shining in the rain.the park below is empty except for few people who work there.pahalgam is a famous tourist place in Kashmir.some nearby places to see here are aru,chandanwari,baisarn,shikargah,beetab valley,there are lot of good hotels to stay in pahalgam.it is a huge valley covered by mountains and forests i could see the pine and few chestnut trees along the river bed and horses and sheep grazing in green fields.
pahalgam
lot of people come here for  trout fishing.river rafting has been also introduced in lidder river few kms before pahalgam starts.the rapids are good for river rafting sport.pahalgam is a serene place good for families and honeymoon couples traveling to Kashmir.the government has built very good amusement park  with good rides and lot of flower beds.the greenery of pahalgam is soothing for body and soul.a car can be hired from taxi stand if you want to go to these three places aru,chandanwari,beetab valley.the sightseeing to these places can be a lot of fun.you should also try horse riding to some of these places it can be tiring but you will feel the pleasure.there is also a good golf course this was built long time ago but it has been renovated recently.here you can play golf among the lofty pines.

lidder river
aru valley
pahalgam river near aru
river of chandanwari
 the flowing water makes a soothing sound when it runs against the stones.the beauty of pahalgam is vast i enjoyed walking along the banks of river.i could see the people fishing for trout and tourists enjoying and playing with cool water.

the village of aru is a drive along the river it is a small village consisting of few houses which are dependent on farming.aru is also used as base for many trekking's.chandanwari is also another beautiful valley it is a second way to amaranth yatra.few miles from chandanwari there is a beautiful lake called seshnag.pahalgam is a true shepherd's land always showering it's beauty on the people who visit there,it is a landmark for tourists who come for Kashmir valley tour and a cool retreat for people who come from hot cities in India.they love the cool weather of pahalgam and take happy memories with them so during your Kashmir trip make pahalgam a must see place.