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Old 11th January 2015, 17:22   #1
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Default Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

The first week of January.

Schools remain closed, Delhi hides behind a veil of fog almost every day, and for us, wanderlust bites more than the biting cold outside. We look forward to winters, to seeing snow, to wrap up in multiple layers of clothing and venture outside when - and where - not many others do.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-day1-1.jpg

Yes - we decide to fly out to Srinagar. There's limited time on hand, and daughter's exams from the next week as soon as school reopens. The Jammu-Srinagar highway is unpredictable in this season, and can close at any time. Also, it works out cheaper than the car, since we have managed to get discounted fares when booking in July last year!

A dear friend in Srinagar has promised to make our travel & accommodation arrangements, and we are happy to leave the details to him.

We arrive to a city that is gradually recovering from the unprecedented floods of a few months ago. No snowfall this season yet, and the ground is covered in many places with the greyish-brown river mud. The trees have lost their green cover, and dust billows everywhere in the cold wind. A very stark appearance overall.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-day1-2.jpg

We arrive at our temporary accommodation for the next few days.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-day1-3.jpg

This building, located right beside the Jhelum river, has also had its ground floor submerged till about shoulder height, and renovation work is in evidence inside as well as outside.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-day1-4.jpg

But up on the second floor, the room is big, and a new inverter AC keeps the temperature very comfortable, day or night.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-day1-8.jpg

Outside the window, the reducing evening light makes for a rather gloomy picture. We pray for snow, but our prayers are not answered over the next 6 days.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-day1-7.jpg

Much as we want to laze around, I don't want to disappoint my friend. We check in, and move out again to a little restaurant run by Afzal, an accomplished wazwan chef whom my friend knows. This is the Peerzoo Island Restaurant, right next to the river again. We have been here on an earlier visit too (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/attach...r-nehru-13.jpg).
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-day1-5.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-day1-6.jpg

We enjoy hot pakoda and tea here as we catch up, followed by an excellent dinner rustled up by Afzal himself.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-day1-9.jpg

The plan is for us to go to Gulmarg tomorrow morning.

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Old 12th January 2015, 00:27   #2
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Default Re: Kashmir | Srinagar sans snow after floods, Gulmarg, Yousmarg, Pahalgam

Tuesday morning. It is cold - very cold - but not foggy, unlike in Delhi. The bed tea tastes better than my usual cup of coffee, not the least because someone rang the bell and delivered it piping hot! A short while to catch up with the news...
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-morning-1k300.jpg

...and as the sun becomes a little brighter, I set off for a short walk and a quick recce of the surroundings.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-morning-2k300.jpg

Breakfast is yet to be served, and our Innova taxi to take us to Gulmarg would not arrive for another hour yet.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-morning-3k300.jpg

Last night, there was this wall that we had noticed, along the embankment of the Jhelum river near Peerzoo Island, with the ground underneath it washed away. It was the handiwork of the floods in September 2014. But that was metaphorically just the tip of the iceberg.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-afterflood-10k300.jpg

The Jhelum river flows quietly as a security guard keeps watch and a boat passes by. Very misleading.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-afterflood-2k300.jpg

One can hardly imagine the destruction unleashed by the same river some 4 months ago. Evidence of damage due to the floods and subsequent reconstruction activity can be seen all over the city, especially along the banks of the river. This wall had been washed away completely earlier, and is now being rebuilt stronger, with concrete, in the hope that it will not collapse like nine-pins in case such a calamity happens again!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-afterflood-1k300.jpg

All over the city are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cars - even brand new cars in dealers' stockyards - that have drowned in the floods, and are beyond economic repair - or there are just not enough skilled mechanics and spares in the city to get them back to running condition again.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-afterflood-7k300.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-afterfloodk300.jpg

This green fence bears mute testimony to the level to which the flood waters had risen on this road.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-afterflood-6k300.jpg

Entire two- and three-storey houses had been submerged under water for up to 3 weeks, causing them to collapse. Across the city, one finds construction and renovation activity in shops and houses progressing at a furious pace. Everyone is trying to be ready for the expected influx of tourists as soon as it snows.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-afterflood-5k300.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-afterflood-9k300.jpg

Yet, as winter sets in, migrant labourers, masons and other craftsmen from the North Indian plains have returned home, and there are not enough people to be found, who can help with the construction activity. Cost of construction has spiralled up as a result, and some just decide to wait till summer returns to the valley again.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-afterflood-4k300.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-afterflood-3k300.jpg

The floods and resultant losses have obviously left a lot of folks here very pissed!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-afterflood-8k300.jpg

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Old 12th January 2015, 15:39   #3
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Default Re: Kashmir | Srinagar sans snow after floods, Gulmarg, Yousmarg, Pahalgam

The road to Baramullah is single carriageway. Road widening and the making of a dual carriageway has been in cold storage, one might say. Traffic is not very heavy though, and we make good progress. Our chauffeur for today is Pervez, and he drives quite well. In fact, most drivers on the roads of Kashmir are reasonably careful, except for their penchant for excessive honking. I ask Pervez about one such insistent honker. Woh toh Jammu se hain (He's from Jammu), he says. Couldn't help smiling...
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-1.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-16.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-15.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-13.jpg

A splash of colour in the generally grey background catches our attention, and is a welcome sight.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-10.jpg

We pass the imposing Forensic Science Laboratory.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-14.jpg

A Mine Protection Vehicle (MPV) parked casually by the roadside. We spot many of these during the journey. An interesting read about these vehicles at the following link: https://thoughtso.wordpress.com/2010/06/
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-12.jpg

At Narbal, we turn off the NH1A towards Gulmarg. The rest of the road is dual carriageway in most parts, and is an easy drive.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-9.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-8.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-7.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-6.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-5.jpg

As we approach Tangmarg, the white-capped mountains reveal themselves ahead. It's time to stop and revel in the sight. Will there be a lot of snow at Gulmarg?
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-4.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-3.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg1-2.jpg

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Old 13th January 2015, 10:00   #4
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Default Re: Kashmir | Srinagar sans snow after floods, Gulmarg, Yousmarg, Pahalgam

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-8.jpg

Tangmarg is the point from which the road heads uphill for ~12 km to Gulmarg town.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-2.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-3.jpg

If it snows, Innovas and smaller cars stop at Tangmarg. The mode of transport in that case is local Sumos and Taveras, with chains on the rear wheels - something like the pic below, taken on that road a couple of years ago by someone else. In fact, the locals monopolize transport in this section completely during times of snow, charging huge sums of money for the short drive.

Why Sumos and Taveras, I wonder. Why not Innovas or Scorpios? Pervez is forthcoming in his explanation. Sumos and Taveras are cheap to repair, whereas Innovas are comparatively more expensive. The chains often come undone and cause damage to the undercarriage. And Scorpios don't take as many passengers comfortably.
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We are not so (un)lucky. Our Innova goes all the way to Gulmarg, along a dry road decorated on the sides with a mild dusting of snow. It hasn't snowed properly in this season at all.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-1.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-4.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-5.jpg

The adventurous can always ride up from Tangmarg on horseback in any season, but that would never be transport of first choice for us!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-6.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-7.jpg




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Old 13th January 2015, 16:55   #5
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Default re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

There's hardly any snow at Gulmarg when we arrive.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-9.jpg

Gulmarg is run by local tourist guides, operators, touts and miscellaneous vendors, with almost zero support from the tourism department of the state, except a few signboards that ask one to beware of touts!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-14.jpg

It becomes almost a painful exercise to avoid them, they have complete monopoly over the place, and even the Kashmiri drivers from Srinagar refuse to tangle with them. One cannot take the car right up to the ropeway terminal, unless there is a hotel reservation inside that 'restricted ' area - but our driver manages to do just that, after a couple of phone calls. The other options are to either walk about 2 km, or go on horseback - for which one is liable to be misguided and overcharged, and taken for a ride in more senses than one.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-11.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-12.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-13.jpg

Pervez actively encourages us to take a guide, which we finally do - a chap called Zahoor, a 26-year-old from Tangmarg. On his part, Zahoor promptly goes into professional mode - gets us our ropeway tickets first, all the way to Phase 2 (Apharwat / Affarwat peak), costing Rs.1400 each for the two-stage ride.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-21.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-22.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-23.jpg

We end up agreeing to rent and wear gum boots at Rs.100 per pair - an extremely bad decision, since they don't fit too well, and are terribly uncomfortable to walk in. In hindsight, we realise there was hardly any slush and snow anywhere, and our own trekking shoes would have done perfectly well. Thankfully, we decide to draw the line on donning rented raincoats and gloves - whatever protection from the cold that we already carry is more than sufficient.

Zahoor waits for us to waddle up to the ropeway station in our boots. The place is under renovation. Incidentally, no one in all of Kashmir would recognize the term ropeway or cable car. The system is called the gondola, in a bid to utterly confuse Venetians who might visit the place occasionally.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-15.jpg

There are the boots!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-16.jpg

Off we go, the first phase taking us up to Kangdoor - where the snow continues to be scanty. Enjoy the views from the rather hazy perspex windscreen of the gondola.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-18.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-17.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-20.jpg

Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-26.jpg

Graffiti writing is not only an Indian trait. Apparently, Malaysians do it too!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-gulmarg2-24.jpg

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Old 13th January 2015, 22:39   #6
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Default Re: Kashmir | Srinagar sans snow after floods, Gulmarg, Yousmarg, Pahalgam

We reach Kangdoor, and change over to the second phase ride up to Apherwat.

Gujjar herdsmen's huts - deserted for the winter
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-kangdoor-6.jpg

Exiting Phase 1 gondola to change over to Phase 2
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-kangdoor-1.jpg

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

Zahoor explaining something
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-kangdoor-2.jpg

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

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

A look at the cable car mechanism
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-kangdoor-4.jpg

Official government rates - Zahoor tries very hard for me not to read it at leisure. A close look shows that official boot rental charges are Rs.60. Sledge rental charges are Rs.300/hour, whereas Zahoor tries very hard to convince us to take a ride for Rs.2000 each! In the event, once we reached Apherwat, we politely decline the sledge ride. More about it later...
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-kangdoor-16.jpg

Views from Kangdoor - bereft of snow in large parts
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-kangdoor-15.jpg

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

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

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

Skiing enthusiasts' stickers
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-kangdoor-10.jpg

Phase 2 ride going up to Apherwat
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-kangdoor-9.jpg

Views of Kangdoor from the gondola
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-kangdoor-12.jpg

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

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Old 14th January 2015, 02:26   #7
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Default re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 14th January 2015, 11:05   #8
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Default re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Very nice, enjoyed reading it, thanks for sharing

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Old 14th January 2015, 13:04   #9
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Default re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Up we go to the next level, riding on the gondola. This time, yes, there is a decent amount of snow, and the snow line is noticeable.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-apharwat-1.jpg

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

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

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

Apharwat Peak is the topmost point of Phase 2 of the Gulmarg gondola, advertised to be at 14000 ft., though the altimeter on my watch reads 3936 m. once we reach there - that is the altitude of the ski slopes, just below the cable car station.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-apharwat-5.jpg

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

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

We spot just this couple of skiing enthusiasts there - the tourist crowd is pretty sparse, not just here, but almost anywhere we would go on this trip.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-apharwat-6.jpg

Avalanche advisory signage inside the gondola station - though the day-to-day ratings are not updated on the board.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-apharwat-7.jpg
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Old 14th January 2015, 13:07   #10
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Default re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Lovely snaps there Doc. Good first "New Thread" read it was for me today!

While we had passed Srinagar last September through the bypass and then to Jammu via Mughal road, the sight was similar for those thousands of cars at each dealership waiting for attention after the floods. Was certainly a sad sight to see along with the fact that Army was still hunting for bodies using sniffer dogs in many areas.

At few sections that we passed around Srinagar, we wondered why each individual standing/walking outside was covering their noses till we rolled down and smelt the stink.

I hope It recovers sooner and things get back to normal and Sringar gets its beauty back.

Also, you are right about Taveras and Sumos. While doing the Srinagar - Peer Ki Galli - Jammu stretch via Mughal road, we witnessed thousands of Taveras and very few Innovas and literally ruled the roads then.
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Old 14th January 2015, 15:45   #11
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Interesting, though I suspect you've barely covered the tip of the ice (or no ice?) berg! Srinagar looks like a town ravaged by war. Admittedly it is, and the flood took a heavier toll than a war could probably have.

Why do the pics appear low-res? Did you not carry your SLR for the trip?
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Old 14th January 2015, 17:15   #12
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Nice writeup and nice pics too. We had been to Gulmarg in March last year. Everything was snowed out.

We had to leave our hired Tavera at Tanmarg and hire a Sumo. The ghat road upto Gulmarg was all under snow. Our Sumo driver put on chains and started the journey. After a short drive, he stopped and removed the chains! The ride after that was the most terrifying experience of my life. The Sumo was just slipping and sliding all the way to the top. I asked him after reaching Gulmarg why he removed the chains? The response: "I have been driving on these snow covered roads for past 15 years. I don't need any chains."

While coming back I forced him to put on the chains on the wheels. It is actually crazy to drive in that ghat without chains when the road is covered with snow.

Gulmarg and the gondola ride is an amazing experience. Specially when everything is covered in snow.
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Old 14th January 2015, 17:56   #13
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Quote:
Originally Posted by paragsachania View Post
I hope It recovers sooner and things get back to normal and Sringar gets its beauty back.
Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
Srinagar looks like a town ravaged by war. Admittedly it is, and the flood took a heavier toll than a war could probably have.
It is a sad state of affairs in Srinagar. The residents have been battered by the floods, and are now facing a severe tourist crunch because there is no snow. Commerce is at an all time low, huge discounts are available when shopping or when looking for a hotel, and food has become unusually expensive for the locals.
Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
Why do the pics appear low-res? Did you not carry your SLR for the trip?
A majority of the pics are from the dSLR, though some are from the phone and the old P&S. All pics have had the resolution reduced for easy viewing. If you want any pic in full res, let me know.

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We enjoy the snow-covered vista at Apharwat for a while. It's cold all right, but the sun is bright, and everything feels good...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...until this idiot turns up, brought in by our guide Zahoor.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-apharwat-18.jpg

He's one of the fellows operating the sledges, and Zahoor wants us to hire him for Rs.2000 each, for a trip to the LoC (the actual stipulated charges are Rs.300).
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-apharwat-20.jpg

Zahoor demonstrates how to sit properly on the sledge, but we are not interested - not for the amount of money being demanded.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-apharwat-19.jpg

Both this fellow and the guide are getting in the way of our enjoyment, and I think the irritation starts to show. Add to it the fact that my daughter thinks my wrapped-up look is freaking her out a bit (indeed, I don't remember the last time I wore something on my head), and this is what gets captured on camera!
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-apharwat-23.jpg

I pay up Rs.100 to get rid of the sledge fellow, who is now literally begging us to ride to the LoC - his family of six would die of starvation if we don't visit the LoC and pay him a king's ransom to do so, he would have us believe!!

Time for a few more pictures of the surroundings (and the ladies), and we are on our way down to Gulmarg.
Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam-apharwat-22.jpg

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

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Old 14th January 2015, 19:39   #14
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Thanks for the log.

My PPGs were asking me about Srinagar, and we had made some plans. Then unfortunately the floods occurred and we have shelved the plans for a while.

Thanks to you I can show them your log
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Old 14th January 2015, 19:59   #15
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Default Re: Kashmir in January: Srinagar (sans snow after floods), Gulmarg, Yousmarg & Pahalgam

Amazing TL and pictures, Dr. Sengupta! I did not know the extent of damage till I saw your pictures. I really pity those folks!

It is sad that you had to go all the way up to get a whiff of snow. Similar to my one week in Simla and Manali in Jan, 2002, when we had to leave disappointed.

It sure beats me why they call a ropeway a 'gondola' ! This apart, I wonder how the people who own those junked up cars travel nowadays. Perhaps the member who started a new thread on engine trouble with his Fabia can hunt for a replacement over there!
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