” Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream ,
I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been ….. …
My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon, I will return again
Sure as the dust that floats high in June, when movin’ through Kashmir. “
~ Lines from the song “Kashmir” immortalised by Led Zeppelin
After our trip to Baisaran, the valleys were next on our itinerary. I had heard about these valleys earlier – as popular filming spots for movies – making me quite excited. First up was the Aru Valley. It is situated 7,920 feet above sea level. The journey from Pahelgam to Aru was one of the most exquisite journeys i had experienced. Driving through the zigzags of the hilly road, with the dreamily blue coloured Lidder river flowing at full pace at one side; our car driver pointed at a burnt car and said that a South Indian filming had been done there a day earlier. Imagine a car burning, with snowcapped mountains and greenery as the background. Truly beautiful imagery!
| A R U V A L L E Y |
Our car halted at a viewing point where the above photograph was clicked. After that we headed towards Aru, which is surrounded by snowcapped mounatins. In my personal opinion, it cannot beat the unparalled beauty of Baisaran. After two days in Kashmir I found a primary school. People say that the girls are deprived of education but this school had more girls in number. When I asked natives about high schools in that area they replied in a very reluctant attitude about education. It was quite clear that most of the boys start working after they finish class 8 or 10 and the girls are married off.
| B E T A A B V A L L E Y |
The next venue was Betaab Valley. It got its name from the superhit bollywood film “Betaab”. Its real name is Hangun Wadi. The best part of this valley were the sun rays; when they peeked at us playfully from the gaps they could find in the solidly strong facade of the tree cover. For me, this was the best place for photography in Kashmir. The funny part was the valley was too big and I opted for a shortcut: and when I was walking through it, I realised it was a swampy marsh land and I made a quick exit. The beauty of this valley cannot be explained in words or pictures.
| C H A N D A N W A R I |
Next up was Chandanwari. It is actually not a tourist spot. It’s the base camp of “Amarnath Yatra”. Now Amarnath is closed, and the place has become a market place.
| L I D D E R R I V E R |
After lunch we went for a walk along Lidder River. The view was incredible. Soon, I was back to the streets and started clicking pictures of people. Before my Kashmir trip, all my close and dear ones who have been to Kashmir earlier had told me that the people are not friendly and that I should not try talking with them. When I interacted with them, i was frankly taken by surprise as the behavior I got in return was beyond my expectations. They were the nicest people ever.
Two kids came to me and said something in Kashmiri and I asked them to translate it to Hindi. Turns out they wanted me to photograph them. Another kid was coming along with her mother, and when she saw my lens she started to inflate the balloon which was in her hands and started smiling the most innocent and pure smile i had ever seen. The men there are more into hookahs and chillums than into cigarettes. Every shop owner smoked hookah at their leisure.
After our walk we went for tea and had the Special Kashmiri Qawah and a bread type snack named “Bakharkhani”.
The Pahelgam trip came to an end and next up was Srinagar.
It was surely an experience worth remembering.
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