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Old 18th January 2015, 21:43   #31
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

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Originally Posted by Guite View Post
Excellent travelogue.
Thank you.
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Originally Posted by Guite View Post
My son loves skiing. ... Is skiing facility available in and around Gulmarg, or does one has to go beyond?
Skiing facilities are certainly available on the slopes above Gulmarg, from Kandoor or Apharwat downwards, but depends on the quantity of snowfall. At the time we were there, there was not enough snowfall at Kangdoor, but Apharwat offered some slopes for skiing. You can rent skiing equipment as well as skiing guides / instructors there, but I don't know about the costs they actually charge.

Skking is also available at Sonamarg and Pahalgam, but without snow till this time of January this year, there is no such activity happening there.
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Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
Slurp slurp. The video of the giant paratha with the sumptuous halwa is making me very homesick. To us bongs, home is where the stomach is
Time for you to plan that trip to Srinagar and the Great Lakes trek from Sonamarg again!
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Old 21st January 2015, 13:43   #32
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Friday, 9 January, 2015.

It's our day for visiting Pahalgam.

Part of the route is along the Jammu-Srinagar highway, and there are 3 interesting areas along the road.

There's Pampore, a short drive out of Srinagar, where saffron grows. Knowing which is the best quality of saffron is a difficult task, and we trust our friend in Srinagar to procure the best stuff at decent prices. We stop at this shop on the guidance of our driver Muzafar, and try out the saffron here too. The trick, we are told, is to put one strand of the saffron into one's mouth, and gently play around with the tip of the tongue. It shouldn't start to colour up the tongue immediately, but the colour should appear and spread over the tongue and teeth in a minute or two, while the flavour should increase gradually too. And the taste should be slightly sour and bitter. Poor quality saffron apparently does not colour up the tongue much, there is no flavour, and fake saffron colour added to the strands starts colouring the tongue instantly. So there you are, you've instantly become an expert in verifying the quality of saffron anywhere!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-1k400.jpg

Further down the road, there's the Sangam area, famed for its cricket bat manufacturing industry. A paradise for those interested in cricket, but the area has been affected by the recent floods, and the losses incurred are massive. Raw material as well as manufacturing machinery have been ruined by flood waters.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-2k400.jpg

One of the most-photographed sections of this road is the so-called green tunnel. The trees lining the road are barren at this time of the year, yet the scenery is still beautiful.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-0.jpg
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Old 21st January 2015, 21:30   #33
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

The road to Pahalgam winds past apple orchards, with apple trees that are skeleton-like in appearance.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-3k400.jpg

The road winds along the Lidder river, and the views are magnificent.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-4k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-5k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-6k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-11k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-12k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-13k400.jpg

We are at Pahalgam.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-7k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-8k400.jpg

Fifty rupees later, we enter the town area.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-9k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-10k400.jpg

Muzafar says thus far and no further and stops near the Civil Hospital.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-15k400.jpg

The rest of the way, we can choose to walk - or we can choose to ride...
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-14k400.jpg

...and we choose the latter!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-17k400.jpg

Destination: Baisaran and Kangmarg meadows. And what a ride it was!

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 21st January 2015 at 21:31.
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Old 22nd January 2015, 13:35   #34
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Before we begin the horse ride, it would be a good idea to check out exactly where we are going. And a sketch of the interesting points around Pahalgam is displayed on a board next to the Civil Hospital. The arrows in red are the points we would be visiting, namely, Baisaran, Dabiyan, viewpoints of the Pahalgam valley and Kashmir valley, and Kangmarg.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-1k400.jpg

That's the direction we would be heading towards, says this blue board - and it's about 4 km each way. How bad the terrain would be, we have no idea yet.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-31k400.jpg

Looks like we would also need to miss having lunch at Pahalgam - a lot of eateries are closed for the winter!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-18k400.jpg

The JKTDC Yatri Niwas - one more place where we would like to come back and spend a few days some time in the future...
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-29k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-30k400.jpg

This board is at Baisaran - but a similar board is also displayed near the Civil Hospital. I am a bit flummoxed about the photography charges, and the constant attempts by the two chaps with cameras around their necks to grab the one around my neck! Saab, aap ghode pe baithkar kaise photo lenge? Hum aapke saath saath chalenge, aap ke camera se photo nikalenge, aap bees rupaye per click de dena! (How will you use the camera when riding a horse? I'll accompany you and click photos with your camera, you can pay me Rs.20 per click.)
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran-3k400.jpg

The fellow can fill up my memory card as well take away all the money I have, for his efforts! Thanks, but no thanks! I'll manage my own pics...

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Old 22nd January 2015, 14:35   #35
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

The track is narrow in parts. It isn't easy to be astride a horse while handling a dSLR as well as hanging on for dear life! The young syce accompanying my horse is just 16 years old, but mature for his years. Trust the horse, he says. I do. He hands me the reins and walks away. Damn! Does the horse trust me is the big question! I forget about the horse after a while. Qué será, será. The beauty of the place is mesmerizing.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-19k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam1-20k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-2k400.jpg

The horses pick their way through the roots of the trees, the earth between having been washed away in the heavy rains of September 2014. On the way up, this isn't too bad - but on the way down, the experience is a little frightening.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-3k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-4k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-5k400.jpg

We take a break at the Kashmir valley viewpoint. Get our photos clicked astride our horses. And continue.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-6k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-7k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-8k400.jpg

A part of the horses' track is along a Jeepable road that connects Pahalgam to the Baisaran meadow. Forest department vehicles use it - it's off limits for any other vehicle, including the local taxis. The only way one can get to Baisaran as a tourist is to ride up on a horse. Or walk.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-9k400.jpg

The road through the forest carries on. I daydream about being able to drive on this track.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-11k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-10k400.jpg

Nope. A part of the road is broken down and under repair. My horse-on-fours doesn't like walking on rocks!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-12k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-13k400.jpg

Next stop, Dabiyan. Nothing much to see here. A few Gujjar shepherds' huts in the distance, abandoned for the winter. Not surprising. Pahalgam means 'village of shepherds'. Why call this place Dabiyan? The syce spins a wild story about how the king of the Gujjars was once hunting here. He saw a leopard about to pounce on his favourite sheep. He shot an arrow as soon as the leopard pounced on the sheep. The arrow went through the heads of both the leopard and the sheep, killing both of them together. Raja ne sher ko shikar karne se daba diya tha, iss liye iska naam Dabiyan hai.

Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story, said Mark Twain!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-14k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-15k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-16k400.jpg

The by-now-customary photo of us on our horses, at Dabiyan...
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-17k400.jpg

...and then, onwards to Baisaran.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-18k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-19k400.jpg



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Old 22nd January 2015, 18:35   #36
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

We have a partially frozen stream to cross, before we can get to Baisaran. The bridge has been washed away, and the horses are led to a narrow point upstream to go across. As sure-footed as these animals are, they still lose their footing on patches of ice and frost on the way. Crossing the stream is scary for us, as the ice cracks below the horses' hooves.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-20k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-21k400.jpg

Safely across...
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-22k400.jpg

This video was shot on the way back

Onwards to Baisaran through the forest, as the sun filters down through the trees and creates a fairyland ambience.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-23k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-24k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-25k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-26k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-27k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-pahalgam2-28k400.jpg

The first glimpse of the meadow at Baisaran, reputed to be the mini Switzerland of India.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran-1k400.jpg

A fee needs to be paid to enter mini Switzerland
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran-2k400.jpg

Five rupees is all that's required, thank you!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran-4k400.jpg
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Old 22nd January 2015, 20:38   #37
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Baisaran, located at an altitude of ~2,450 m, is one huge picturesque meadow surrounded by forests of pine, and white snowy peaks beyond. It's winter, and the grass has turned brown (we are told that the meadow looks lush green in August-September) - and there has been no snowfall, or we would have seen a white meadow! There's always a next time though...
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran2-1k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran2-6k400.jpg

It's around 1 PM when we reach, the sun is almost directly overhead and very strong - not the best conditions for photography. I have not been to Switzerland yet, but those who have, might be in a good position to compare and comment whether 'mini Switzerland' is an apt description or not.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran2-19k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran2-7k400.jpg

The horses are tired after the 1-hour uphill ride, and hungry too...
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran2-5k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran2-15k400.jpg

...and so are we - but there are not many choices on the menu at the stalls set up on one side. The pakodas don't look too appetizing, so we settle for the staple diet of the traveller to the Himalayan region - Maggi. A cup of coffee also seems to be tempting, but what is served up is a paper cup full of slightly brown-coloured milk for Rs.25. Er... can I have some more coffee powder please? The shopkeeper graciously extends a bottle of instant coffee powder and a spoon, and I make myself a nice strong brew. Aaah!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran2-3k400.jpg
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Old 24th January 2015, 21:01   #38
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

A vast Himalayan high-altitude meadow with only the whisper of the wind through the pine trees is not an average Indian holidaygoer's idea of a proper vacation. There have to be outlets of entertainment for the noisy and rowdy kids. The wives' primeval urge for shopping must be satiated at all times. And of course, there must be silly holiday photos of them and their wives dressed up in smelly, uncomfortable and gaudy clothing, which no local would be caught dead wearing, shot by a retarded commercial photographer while the tourists put on the most hideous smiles possible for the camera!

All of that is there, scattered around the Baisaran meadow, with something new additionally - a chap with a rabbit, which he wants you to take in your lap and pet while having your photos clicked, and pay him Rs.50 for. I decide this needs to be shot, for starters.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran.jpg

The funny thing is, from Nainital to Pahalgam to Darjeeling to Mussoorie, these clothes for rent look exactly alike - and in all my travels across JK, HP, UA, WB, SK etc., we've often remarked amongst ourselves that no local lady is ever seen wearing clothes like these on a daily basis, or even at weddings!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran2-11k400.jpg

The ubiquitous shawl-wallah turns up, selling pashmina at 500 rupees - yeah, right, the stuff is actually made in Ludhiana and available for Rs.100 there. Thanks, but no thanks! I like his kangri though.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran2-9k400.jpg

The popularity of these devices of entertainment is probably a good reason for an exponential reduction in the IQ levels of our kids today. We are supposedly at the world's highest zorbing site! High altitude, lack of oxygen, and spinning round and round while bouncing downhill is entirely not my idea of entertainment, but I think this has a certain quieting effect on rowdy kids, by leaving them extremely dizzy! Good thinking, parents!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran2-14k400.jpg

The five-rupee entry charge is obviously not sufficient for the local administration to arrange for proper disposal of waste here, and non-biodegradable trash piles up in one corner. Committed to provide better civic amenities indeed and **built to greate town** (sic) indeed!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran2-17k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-baisaran2-18k400.jpg


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Old 5th February 2015, 19:50   #39
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

We spend a day roaming around Srinagar itself. The city, even without snow, has an ethereal feel to it in winter. The roads are empty, as is the Dal Lake, which is usually teeming with shikaras during the summer.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-charchinark400.jpg

We seek out unusual non-touristy places too. Kashmiri carved furniture made of walnut wood has always fascinated us, and we want to see how it is done. So the friend arranges for us to visit this place.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-woodcarvingk400.jpg

Photography isn't allowed inside the huge showroom displaying the finished products
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-woodcarving-9k400.jpg

The factory is located in these buildings
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-woodcarving-2k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-woodcarving-1k400.jpg

Walnut wood
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-woodcarving-7k400.jpg

work in progress
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-woodcarving-4k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-woodcarving-6k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-woodcarving-3k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-woodcarving-6k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-woodcarving-8k400.jpg

Watch how it is done...


And an enormous carved elephant in the process of being carved, that costs a bomb
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-woodcarving-5k400.jpg
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Old 8th February 2015, 11:48   #40
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

The Hazratbal Shrine (literally, Majestic Place) in Srinagar contains a relic, the Moi-e-Muqqadas, believed to be a hair of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The name of the shrine comes from the Urdu word Hazrat, meaning respected, and the Kashmiri word bal, meaning place. Thus it means the place which is given high regard and is respected among the people.

The shrine is situated on the western shore of the Dal Lake. Its pristine white marble elegance is reflected in the waters of the lake, and it is considered to be Kashmir's holiest Muslim shrine. The shrine has a courtyard that opens to the lake. Hazratbal is remarkable for being the only domed mosque in Srinagar; the others having distinct pagoda like roofs. The shrine–mosque complex commands a grand view of the lake and the mountains beyond. Construction work was in progress around the shrine and particularly on the tomb at the time of our visit.

The shrine has a large outer hall and a sacred inner sanctum. Out of reverence, people wear caps while entering the shrine. There are skull caps in a basket at the entrance which can be picked and worn before entering the inner sanctum. It is here that the relic of Prophet Mohammed is kept.

The history of the shrine goes back to the early seventeenth century when the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan's Subedar, Sadiq Khan, laid out a garden here & constructed a palatial building, Ishrat Mahal or Pleasure House in 1623. However, the Emperor, during his visit in 1634, ordered the building to be converted into a Prayer House with some additions & alterations. During the time of Aurangzeb, when Moi-e-Muqqadas (The Holy Relic) arrived in Kashmir in 1699, it was first kept in the shrine of Naqashbad Sahib in the heart of the city. Since the place was found to be insufficient in view of the unprecedented rush of people who thronged the place to have a glimpse of the Moi-e-Muqqadas, it was decided to shift the it to Hazratbal, then known as Sadiqabad. The construction of the present marble structure was started by the Muslim Auqaf Trust headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1968 and completed in 1979. The "Moi-e-Muqqadas" is displayed on Various occasions related with the life of Prophet & his four holy companions.

According to legend, the relic of the Prophet was first brought to India by Syed Abdullah, a descendant of the Islamic prophet Muhammad who left Medina and settled in Bijapur, near Hyderabad in 1635. When Syed Abdullah died, his son, Syed Hamid, inherited the relic. Following the Mughal conquest of the region, Syed Hamid was stripped of his family estates. Finding himself unable to care for the relic, he sold it to a wealthy Kashmiri businessman, Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai.

However, when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb came to know of what had transpired, he had the relic seized and sent to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer, and had Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai imprisoned in Delhi for possessing the relic. Later, realizing his mistake, Aurangzeb decided to restore the relic to Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai and allowed him to take it to Kashmir. However, by that point, Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai had already died in imprisonment. In the year 1700, the relic finally reached Kashmir, along with the body of Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai. There, Inayat Begum, daughter of Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai, became a custodian of the relic and established the shrine.

Inayat Begum was married into the prominent Banday family in Kashmir, and since then, her descendants from the Banday family have been the keepers of the relic, known as Nishaandehs.

The relic was reported to have disappeared on 26 December 1963. There were mass protests all over the state on the disappearance of the Mo-e-Muqaddas (the Hair of the Prophet) with hundreds of thousands out in the streets. The Awami Action Committee was formed to recover the relic. On 31 December 1963 the then prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, made a broadcast to the nation on the disappreance of the sacred relic, which was subsequently recovered on 4 January 1964.

Our photographs from Hazratbal:

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-1k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-2k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-3k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-4k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-5k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-6k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-7k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-8k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-9k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-10k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-11k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-12.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-hazratbal-13k400.jpg
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Old 8th February 2015, 17:05   #41
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-1k400.jpg

Awantipora (Vuumtopur in Kashmiri) is located about 30 km from Srinagar on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway. The place is famous not only as the ancient capital city of Avantipora founded by Raja Avantivarman (AD 855- 883), but also for its two imposing temples, now in ruins, built by him.

The Avanteshwar temple is located on the banks of the River Jhelum (known as River Vitasta in ancient times) at Jawbrari in the centre of a courtyard surrounded by a colonnaded peristyle, is dedicated to Shiva.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-2k400.jpg

Less than a kilometre away is Avantiswamin temple dedicated to Vishnu, which we visited. The Avantiswamin temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu, before Avantivarman’s accession to the throne; the second one, Avanteswara, the larger one, is dedicated to Lord Shiva, after his accession to the throne.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-4k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-5k400.jpg

The Vaikuntha Vishnu carving is said to have originated in this temple. The two temples are quite similar structurally. The walls of the entrance are ornamented with sculptured reliefs both internally and externally.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-12k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-13k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-14k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-15k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-16k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-17k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-18k400.jpg

The original grandeur of these great temples has been lost and all that remains now are the architectural fragments strewn at their places of origin on the left side of Srinagar-Jammu road.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-6k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-7k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-8k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-9k400.jpg

Avantiswamin, the better preserved temples of the two, has an edifice, which comprised a colonnaded per style enclosing a paved courtyard 174 feet by 148 feet, in the centre of which is the main shrine, built on a double base with four small shrines at four corners. The centre shrine is built on double bases, the only decoration of which is a torus molding a cyma recta cornice. The base is intact, but the sanctum, 33 feet square externally, has almost disappeared.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-11k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-19k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-20k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-21k400.jpg


The remains of these two temples represent the finest examples of architecture of the times. One can see the still-standing gateway, the colonnade of the smaller temple and the semi-attached pillars of the arched recesses with elaborate carvings. Sikander Butshikan destroyed these magnificent temples. According to Lawrence, the complete ruin of Avantipora temples could have been affected by use of gunpowder by the bigoted Sikander, whose idol breaking zeal procured him the tile of But-Shikan or "Iconoclast".

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-22k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-23k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-24k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-25k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-26k400.jpg

The monument is usually misidentified by local guides, saying it was built by the Pandavas 5000 years ago, because the material used in building this place is usually Pandava stones. In all probability, stones from Athwajan stone quarry have been used in construction of this grand Vaishnava temple. Use of elephants for transportation of these stones is confirmed by many historians. During the rule of Raja Awantivarman, Kashmir saw peace and development, and one of his ablest engineers named Suyya , constructed embankments, barrages and diverted the course of the river Jhelum (Vitasta) to save the Srinagar valley and Kashmir from the fury of recurring floods . . It is said that this temple had been buried almost 20 feet deep under the earth during one such flood, and that only its top side is visible.


Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-27k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-28k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-29k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-30k400.jpg

Excavations were carried out in the early part of the 20th century. Large scale operations were conducted by D.R. Sahni who exposed the entire quadrangle of the temple down to the floor of the courtyard and reclaimed the extant basement of the central shrine and remains of the subsidiary shrines. The excavation yielded a rich crop of antiquities including 121 coins issued by Toramana, Sultans of the Shah Miri dynasty, Durrani Afghan rulers etc. Sahni also excavated the quadrangle of the Awanteswara temple and brought to light a small earthen jar having 108 copper coins issued by various rulers, fragments of birch manuscripts containing accounts of articles of worship, inscribed earthen jars etc. Most of these finds are safely preserved in the SPS Museum at Srinagar.

The ruins lie close to the Dargah of Sufi saint Syed Mantaqi.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-10k400.jpg

The ruins of temples constructed by Lalitaditya, the Brahmin emperor of Kashmir, are also located in Awantipora. All the temples are protected and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Across the road is a JKTDC restaurant, which bears a forlorn look, with no service available, since hardly any tourists stop by to see these magnificent edifices.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-awantipora-3k400.jpg
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Old 9th February 2015, 22:30   #42
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

I don't play golf. But our visit to the Royal Springs Golf Course in Srinagar is inspiring me to! Situated at the foot hills of Zabarwan mountains, and overlooking the Dal Lake, the Royal Springs Golf Course is regarded as one of the most picturesque golf courses in Asia. It is considered as the #1 golf course of India by Golf Digest, and was commissioned in 2001. It is designed by the American golfer Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-golfclub1.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-golfclub2.jpg

The Club House is warm and snug, in contrast to the chilly wind blowing off the Dal Lake outside. The massive fireplace in the centre is the most desirable place to be, and we utterly love spending a couple of hours there in the company of our friends.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-golfclub3.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-golfclub4.jpg

Apart from golfing, I wouldn't be averse to gaining some experience in fishing too. Heard about fishing along the banks of the Jhelum river and along the Lidder near Pahalgam, but before that, I guess I would need to start by visiting this shop!

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-fishing.jpg
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Old 12th February 2015, 15:51   #43
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Another little-known place to visit in Srinagar:

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-shah-hamdan-shrine-1k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-shah-hamdan-shrine-7k400.jpg

Khanqah of Shah Hamdan got its name from a Persian Sufi poet, Mir Syed Ali bin Shahab-ud-Din Hamadani. He was the one who propagated Islam in the Kashmir valley. His admires used to call him Shah Hamadhan, which means a King of Iran. Beautifully set on the banks of Jhelum River, the mosque is an astonishing piece of art. Built by Sultan Sikander in 1400 AD, in honour of Mir Syed Ali Hamadani, the mosque is made from pure wood; the shrine looks amazing with beautifully carved roofs.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-shah-hamdan-shrine-2k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-shah-hamdan-shrine-3k400.jpg

Due to Islamic beliefs, only Muslims are allowed to enter the shrine, but one can enjoy the magnificence of this shrine from the outside, which is as glorious as the interior.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-shah-hamdan-shrine-5k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-shah-hamdan-shrine-6k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-shah-hamdan-shrine-9k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-shah-hamdan-shrine-8k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-shah-hamdan-shrine-10k400.jpg

On the sixth day of Dul Haj, which is the last month according to the Islamic Lunar Calendar, this shrine is crowded with devotees. Prayers are offered on the death anniversary of the saint at this shrine.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-shah-hamdan-shrine-4k400.jpg
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Old 12th February 2015, 17:45   #44
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

This is turning out to be a great travelogue dada, with you now profiling the offbeat places in Srinagar as well. Please get the remaining jacks out of the box .

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Beautifully set on the banks of Jhelum River, the mosque is an astonishing piece of art. Built by Sultan Sikander in 1400 AD, in honour of Mir Syed Ali Hamadani, the mosque is made from pure wood; the shrine looks amazing with beautifully carved roofs.
This mosque intrigues me. Though there are several schools of Islamic architecture (Ottoman, Persian, Indian etc), there are certain common elements in all mosque designs. All of which are conspicuous by their absence.

When was the last time you saw a mosque without a central dome? This building seems to have a tapered roof, more akin to a pagoda or medieval church. Usage of pictures is haram in all mosque designs, yet this one has colorful pictures of flowers and nature. Also the symmetrical design (notice the facade of the building is narrow, and widens at the back, maintaining symmetry at both ends) is akin to Buddhist or Medieval European architecture. Usage of wood in mosques is also not found in any Islamic architecture, except some Chinese mosques.

Not inferring anything, but this mosque is the most unusual sample of one I've seen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
The original grandeur of these great temples has been lost and all that remains now are the architectural fragments strewn at their places of origin on the left side of Srinagar-Jammu road.

The remains of these two temples represent the finest examples of architecture of the times. One can see the still-standing gateway, the colonnade of the smaller temple and the semi-attached pillars of the arched recesses with elaborate carvings. Sikander Butshikan destroyed these magnificent temples. According to Lawrence, the complete ruin of Avantipora temples could have been affected by use of gunpowder by the bigoted Sikander, whose idol breaking zeal procured him the tile of But-Shikan or "Iconoclast".
This is sad. Sikander Butshikan's zeal to destroy all non-Islamic monuments from the valley was famous, and the loss he has caused is priceless. However I draw comfort from the ruins at Mandore, which did not have to face the wrath of a religious zealot but fell to the elements thanks to the Indian disregard to maintain our heritage.
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
When was the last time you saw a mosque without a central dome? This building seems to have a tapered roof, more akin to a pagoda or medieval church.
Strange but true, and your powers of observation are to be lauded. Read what I wrote earlier...
Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
The Hazratbal Shrine... is remarkable for being the only domed mosque in Srinagar; the others having distinct pagoda like roofs.
In fact, the Jamia Masjid at Nowhatta, also built by Sultan Sikandar circa 1394 AD (and later enlarged by his son, Zain-ul-Abidin) is without a dome too, and is said to be a typical example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, and has extensive use of wooden pillars inside (wood being a more durable building material than stones or concrete, when exposed to extreme cold, snow and frost). Destroyed thrice by fire and rebuilt each time, the mosque, as it now stands, was repaired during the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh.

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-jamiamasjid-1k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-jamiamasjid-4k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-jamiamasjid-2k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-jamiamasjid-3k400.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-jamiamasjid.jpg

Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
...the ruins at Mandore, which did not have to face the wrath of a religious zealot but fell to the elements thanks to the Indian disregard to maintain our heritage.
Indeed, the extreme temperatures in the region has destroyed much of artistry on stone over the decades and centuries. Winter frost cracks even the strongest of stones - simple physics!

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 12th February 2015 at 19:43.
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