A blend of beauty and patriotism, that’s Kashmir for you. The overwhelming sight of nature and the history Kashmir possess of our country is what attracted me travel to this place. The land is named after the sage Kashyapa who settled people here. The history of this land begins at the ancient period where Hindu and Buddhist cultures were practiced in large numbers. Many temples were built for the worship of the Lord in their respective religions. This fascinating region has agriculture as its main occupation. The temperature in Kashmir bears so many fruits namely apples, peaches, and cherries. The produce here provides the best of vegetables, fruits, and medicinal trees.

Kashmir looks fascinating with the cover of mountains and greenery over it. Kashmir tends to differ from the rest of India by the food they consume, the clothes they wear and their way of life. The most significant drink made here is the ‘Khawa’. It is prepared with of lots of dry fruits, kesar, ghee, and milk. The kesar (saffron) that is grown here is supposedly one of the most expensive ingredients in India. Kashmir is famous for its Pashminas, kurtas, and pottery. To have traveled until here and experience so much culture and nature I can tell that, Kashmir is literally heaven on Earth. After going here now I understand why people call it Jannat.

Kashmir is a region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. My first stop in this travel was to the most exclusive place in Kashmir, Sonmarg. Sonmarg is called the “Meadow Of Gold” of India. This place is said to be the most exclusive place because of its temperature. The thermometer always reads a negative value in here. Besides that, Sonmarg is considered the most beautiful place in Kashmir giving amazing landscape views. It also provides trekking enthusiasts an opportunity to get a glimpse of the Snow Mountains. With temperature being an exception, Sonmarg is a spectacular place to indulge in the beauty of nature.

After freezing and experiencing the breathtaking view in Sonmarg, it was a 3.5 hours’ travel to Gulmarg. Gulmarg is a hill station, which is popular for skiing and it is the most stunning place for sightseeing. This place is known for its “Gondola Ride”. This is a spectacular one for various reasons. Firstly, it takes us in a tramway so that we can see the amazing view throughout the journey to the top. Secondly, the ride happens in two phases, which means that there is ample time for visitors to view, experience and also capture the bliss that is, Gulmarg.

I sat in the tramway car and the first phase began. The splendid view from the tramway left me awestruck with the glamour of Kashmir and by the time I could process it all, the first phase of the ride had ended. I was 10,000 feet above the sea level at the Kangdori station at the end of the first phase. They gave us a much needed break as I did not want to leave the place without any memories and I was not going back without capturing this beauty on my lens! After the photo session, we quickly had some food. The stalls here had great menus! There were many kinds of omelets, and noodles. They also served delicious Maggi. There were even shopping marts where one could buy cookies, chips and other snacks to carry along for the rest of the ride.

With our stomachs full and our excitement doubled, we moved on to phase two. We now travelled towards the Apharwat Mountain for which we crossed a slope of 2688 meters ata vertical rise of 880 meters from the Kangdori Station. The time I spent in the tramway proved out to be more than worthy with sight of nature from the top, no wonder it is called “Mini Switzerland”! This Gondola ride is a lifetime experience activity, with so much allure, charm, and elegance I was bound to nature. The mountains here are compared to Mt. Titilis in Switzerland describing and relating their similarities. I reached Alpathar Lake, which was the end of the second phase of the ride. This lake is said to be the hidden gem of Kashmir. The lake is frozen during the winters and melts into sparkling bluish water in the summers. The lake looks extravagant with the backdrop of snow mountains at the back and beautiful myriad colored flowers around the circumference of the lake.  This lake is a picturesque sight.

With a zillion pictures on my camera and more than a zillion in my mind, I moved on to the next location of trip, which is the capital of Jammu and Kashmir in the summer, Srinagar. It was a 1.5 travel from Gulmarg and I knew I was not ready for any more extravagance that day. The journey of exploration resumed the next morning, starting with the iconic Dal Lake. At the sight of Dal Lake, it came to me why it was so noteworthy, it’s because the lake is way too massive to be called a lake! Its length is about 7.5 kilometers and has a width of 3.5 kilometer. To view this exquisite location we were taken on the “Shikara Ride”. Shikaras are long boats that are used for getting back and forth from the houseboats or for longer tours. The ride takes us on a tour in the lake showing us the villages by the side of the lake and the vegetables grown there. This 4-kilometer ride also shows us the Nehru Park, which is a small island in the lake itself. I also visited the Nigeen Lake that is a tiny part of the Dal Lake and is connected by a strait.

With one of the main locations, being Dal Lake, ticked off the list from Srinagar, the second was the Pari Mahal, which was a 25 minute travel from Dal Lake. This is a seven-terraced garden, which is also called ‘The Abode of Fairies’, it gives a panoramic view of Srinagar and an architectural taste of the Mughals. One can visit this place if he has covered the other prominent places in Srinagar to get a good view of the town. After experiencing a bit of history from the Pari Mahal, i visited the Nishat Bagh and Shalimar Bagh. They are two marvelous gardens, with various flora and fauna. It is said that Nishat Bagh is the largest Mughal Garden in the Kashmir valley. The two gardens located at the bank of Dal Lake, with Zabarwan Mountains in the background is a delight to the eyes. Nishat Bagh has twelve terraces representing twelve Zodiac signs. The two gardens have numerous fountains and pools giving the visitor a soothing evening to spend.

This travel to the pride of India that is Kashmir– where the nature is at its best, has a tint of patriotism has left me with a memory card full of magnificent pictures and a soul full of happiness and serenity.