A phoenix.........

It's all about my life,myself,the people around me,the people not around me..My life till date...You all are welcome to read my blog,post comments if you like it....

These are just some figments out of my life which I have just given the form of words...You may or may not like it, but these are just my expressions..........

Friday, August 17, 2018

Sonamarg, J & K, India, 19-20th July, 2017

Eventually, I come to our last leg of "Kashmir" trip. Now now, it doesn't mean that the trip was over. Actually, there are two regions of Jammu and Kashmir, rather two provinces- Kashmir Province and Ladakh Province. We left our hotel at Pahalgam at 3.30 am and waited at the exit point for the next few hours when finally Indian Army allowed all the tourist vehicles to leave Pahalgam at about 6.20 am, after ensuring that the route ahead is absolutely safe. Our driver probably had kept a brick on the accelerator as soon as we left Pahalgam. There was no stopping in between and finally we reached Srinagar at about 8.30-9-ish. We had some rest, a good breakfast and left for Sonamarg at around 10 am with another driver this time.
On our way to Sonamarg along Indus River

My school buddy was a bit shaken after the Pahalgam escapade, my feeling was more of empathy towards the residents of the 3 places we visited. The primary means of income for them is tourism. Without it, how much does the state earn from export business of shawls, carpets, wool etc? The children are always subjected to seeing security personnel patrolling the streets, the by-lanes, shopping centres. One thing is for sure- this will remain an international issue as long as human civilization will thrive in this world. Anyway, too much of philosophy.
We had a short break at a place named Ganderbal, a small municipality approx 65 km before Sonamarg on the Srinagar- Leh national highway.
Leaving Ganderbal behind

One can fill up their supplies as the population density along with various options slowly decrease as one starts ascending the Himalayas. The air quality became purer and fresher, the wind became cooler and the roads were perfect for the adventurous road trip, except at a few places where BRO were carrying out their road construction duties.
Welcome message at entry gate of Sonamarg

We finally reached Sonamarg approximately 2 hours later (from Ganderbal) and the view just took our breathe away- literally...!!! Sonamarg is probably the most beautiful place on Earth to lay my eyes on - anybody with an imminent warning of wearing spectacles can stay here and heal their eyes just by looking at the greenery all around. One will get all sort of greenery at Sonamarg. We were put up at a hotel names Sonamarg Glacier, right in front of the mighty Thajiwas Glacier route.
Our lodging place at Sonamarg
Although the hotel was located at a very convenient place for any tourist to do sight-seeing in Sonamarg, a few things to be remembered if anyone is compelled to put up in this hotel-
1. Please don't take the 1st room adjoining the reception (probably room number 001 or something like that) as one will face immense space crunch. There is just enough space in front of the bed for only 1 person to move about conveniently.
2. Please try to book the rooms facing the lawn or Thajiwas Glacier as they give a stupendous view.
3. Please don't- DON'T-ever have non-vegetarian meals here if visiting and staying here during Amarnath Yatra season. Have vegetarian meals or rather have enough stock from Ganderbal to keep you going till Kargil (don't worry, your stock, if fruits, won't rot as the weather is fairly supportive)

As soon as we got the keys of our rooms, we dumped our luggage and was ready to explore Sonamarg. The locals don't allow your vehicle (the one in which you have traveled to Sonamarg) to take you to Thajiwas Glacier. They have their own jeeps to take you there- they charge approx. INR 500-700 for the to and fro journey till Thajiwas Park.
My dream home
Thajiwas Park
From Thajiwas Park, one has to ride till Thajiwas Glacier on a horse. They charge you INR 300 for half an hour ride to take you to the base of the glacier.
On our way to Thajiwas Glacier on horseback

Thajiwas Glacier

As my readers can see, there is not much of a "glacier" but only green meadows with sheep roaming around in the foreground. Well, we went there in the month of July but still the temperature was below 10 deg C, so one can imagine how cold it was. There one has the option of sledging on ice, which we didn't do as the price quoted by them was absurd and exorbitant for 10 minutes of sledging. So we made our way back to the Thajiwas Park from where we started our horse ride.
Apparently this place was the artificial Indo-Pak border in the Salman Khan blockbuster "Bajrangi Bhaijaan"

So as you can see from the caption of the picture below, I could relate to the artificial Indo-Pak border from the blockbuster movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan. The beautiful green meadows which were apparently shown to be from our neighboring country was actually in Sonamarg.
Stunning Sonamarg
Probably this post on Sonamarg has more pictures than actual description of the place because the place is simply so breathtakingly and incredibly phenomenal that one just can't find enough words to illustrate that place.
Different shades of green

On our return from Thajiwas Park to our hotel, we made in-numerous stops to make a futile attempt to capture the exquisiteness of the place in our cameras. So whatever pictures my readers are viewing on this post, the actual place is 1000 times more stunning and breathtaking than these images.
Enjoying the greenery

Light and shadow play

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Pahalgam, J & K, India- 17.07.2017 & 18.07.2017

So I am back after quite a bit of a hiatus. Desperately needed some respite. Actually life has been a bit on the tougher side for these few months (it still is) but I hope we will sail through. Anyway, back to where I had left off.
So my school buddy was waiting for the opportune moment to blast us off for continuing our plan to come to Pahalgam as soon as we were denied exit out of main Pahalgam town so that we could proceed to our Hotel Green Height.
This was our view from Hotel Green Height, located at the outskirts of Pahalgam

We could not understand what might have caused the army/police to take such action and hence we went to Pahalgam Police station. The temperature slowly started plummeting & we started shivering. The guys came out of the police station with the news that there was a round of open fire and some terrorists as well as some jawans from our Indian Army were killed in the firing at Anantnag (a town famous for willow trees and cricket bats manufacturing hub) which is between Srinagar & Pahalgam & always a hot spot for terrorist activities), therefore nobody was being allowed to leave from Pahalgam lest they get trapped at Anantnag (all for the security of the tourists & blah blah). All our reasoning fell on deaf ears and we were left with no other option but to search for a hotel within Pahalgam in the main market. Meanwhile, our driver Khurshid left for Hotel Green Height to bring all our luggage. We roamed about the Pahalgam main market searching for a hotel. To be honest, I was quite pepped up to be a witness to how actual "adventure"would feel like (yes, many of my readers won't agree to it citing reasons like how it is quite painful to live/reside like this amidst so much distress & agitation years after years & I fully concur with them - it is indeed tiring to be amidst such turmoil years after years).
View while having lunch at Cafe Log Inn, Pahalgam
So at first we went to Hotel Cafe Log Inn (picture below, yes the same place where we had our lunch on the same day). But the price they quoted for one room per night blew us off (it was INR 8000 per night) so we had only coffee and left as fast as our legs could carry us. We strolled around for more home-stays/guesthouses but either the prices or the washrooms or the rooms- some or the other always was a turn off hence we could not zero down on any of the accommodation places available. Lastly we went to Hotel Woodstock, Pahalgam, Kashmir located a bit far from the main market but it's a beautiful heritage hotel with spacious rooms (I was very impressed with the washrooms as well :P ).
Hotel Woodstock Pahalgam

We immediately booked 3 rooms facing towards the mountains and the Lidder River, got fresh and settled down. All of us were really enjoying the adventure we were experiencing for the 1st time in our lives except one who was pretty tensed, owing to the tense situation all around. We relaxed and started our usual schedule of playing card games and dumb charade. Pretty soon we were called for a nice sumptuous dinner after which we continued our discussion on the desolate ambiance of such an artistic place like Pahalgam.

Morning view from our room

We woke up pretty early - at about 8 am (I was quite surprised as I never wake up before 10/11 am when I am at home on weekends) and I was taken aback by the breathtaking view from our room as soon as I opened the curtains. I felt thankful, to be harshly honest, that we got stuck in Pahalgam due to the ongoing terrorist activities at Anantnag, else we would have missed such heavenly spectacle. We had an enjoyable complimentary breakfast in the pleasant lawn overlooking the Lidder River, we could see the helicopters leaving with the yatris from the Amarnath Yatra base camp on the opposite bank of the Lidder River.
Helicopter carrying Amanath Yatris

Helicopter carrying Amarnath Yatris flying over Hotel Woodstock

Small birdie
View of the compound of Hotel Woodstock Villa

After our breakfast, we thought to exploring the Pahalgam market a bit as we didn't have anything to do the whole day. So we ventured out from our hotel and visited Paradise Hotel to have our lunch there. But who knew we would be having the shock of our lives when we ordered Mutton Rogan Josh, Mutton Biryani and some paneer dish. The non-veg dishes were disastrous and abnormally over-priced that we were forced to order more paneer dishes as it was comparatively better in taste. Anyway, we still were not fully satisfied with the lunch and then strolled along for sometime. Fortunately, I saw a fuchka/panipuri wala and thought of satiating my hunger with some fuchkas. As God would have it, the fuchkawala turned out to be a Bengali who left Bengal 10 years ago & since then he is selling fuchkas here at Pahalgam, visits his home only during the Durga Puja season.

Pahalgam after a fresh spell of rain

After our fuchka session, we asked around what tourist spots were there worth visiting in or around Pahalgam. Some suggested to visit the Pahalgam "zoo" which on the way to Betaab Valley. We started striding towards the zoo asking any local how far was it to which many answered "there", "nearby", "2 -3 kms more" etc.
Iron bridge on Lidder River
Finally we did reach Pahalgam "zoo" after walking for about 4-5 km uphill from our hotel. We were quite disappointed after reaching the "zoo" as it was "home" to only 1 tiger and 2 bears. Nonetheless, we enjoyed watching the bear lazying around in its cage while the tiger was hanging on one of the branches of a small tree inside its cage. The Amarnath Peak could be seen from this zoo, fully covered in snow.

Lidder River flowing towards Aru Valley, Pahalgam

We made our way back to our hotel, watching small kids return home from their school. Amidst such uncertainty, the life of these people are very much similar to us except that they, sometimes, are put under curfew or their business get affected due to such agitation every now and then.
Silver Lining