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Old 3rd October 2021, 22:16   #1
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Default When I met Kashmir

It is a strange title to pick for a travel blog but as I travel more and more I have begun to realize that when you head out to a destination you just don’t see some sights but you actually go though an experience of meeting the people there, eating the food they eat, seeing the things they see so its like actually meeting the place.

I also believe the best way to truly experience a place and its culture is by going to its non tourist places where the people are just themselves and not primed to welcome tourists. Akin to the saying that you are what you actually are in the dark and not when you are in the spot light.
This time around I was going to meet a different Kashmir from the previous visit. On foot on a planned route, on a taxi with pre planned destinations and then on a bike on an unchartered and un planned ride simply going as the road took me.

So without much ado let me begin from where I should have actually started the blog without randomly meandering about at the very start. Of course starting with a few teaser photos(To which full credits are due to all fellow trekkers who shared their photos)

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What with the new term “Revenge Tourism “ being the buzz word I too joined the action albeit pretty much in advance to book a slot for a trek in August 1st week. This was in the small cycle gap between the second wave and the probable third wave that I managed to book for a trek with India hikes team again.

Plan was a long overdue trip ( excluding the short trips we kept taking even amidst the pandemic as and when we were permitted)with family to beautiful Kashmir.

Like I mentioned this was to be our second visit to Kashmir termed as Jannat by emperor Jahangir and for good reasons.We had covered the tourist locations in Kashmir during our last visit including Srinagar/Sonmarg/Gulmarg/Pahalgam (Baisaran valley)/Aru valley /Doodhpatri and penned the same in my earlier blog on Kashmir linked below.
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...errerid=229718 (Kashmir: A Trip to Jannat).

The we had made a few day treks in Pahalgam (trek to baisaran) and Aru (green top/Lidderwat and Armun valley) during our last visit 6 years ago in May but we couldn’t do the Tarsar-Marsar lake as the path is open only from the July to September window.

The Tarsar Marsar trek is promoted by India hikes as arguably the prettiest treks in india vying for the place with another entrant from Kashmir the more famous Kashmir Great Lakes.That is a tall claim if it needs to beat among others the mesmerising Valley of Flowers and remains to be seen if it can match the expectations!

But then there is something about Kashmir where it always throws up a twist in the tale with the last time the political situation putting paid to my great lakes trek booking and this time it was the drop out of Kanthi and smrithi at the last moment.

So there I was at the new improved Bangalore Airport looking forward to joining a group of 22 whom I was interacting with on a whatsapp group.

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As chance would have it met a co trekker from chennai a young 30 year old Arthy who was to become my company for the local sightseeing in Srinagar.
As has become the norm nowadays with the rescheduling of flights the direct flight had become one with a stop over at Amritsar. The flight was full and booking in advance and in flexi flight ( a must given that cancellations are a distinct possibility)ensured a window or aisle seat and escape from wearing a PPE suit.

Preparations for the trek besides the mandatory fitness and double vaccination certificate was also packing optimally given that hand luggage was 7kg and check in 15 kgs. Experience from previous treks taught me to factor in that would have more baggage on return ( badly re packed clothes and loads of dry fruits and other Kashmiri goodies is a given) and that generally I tend to overpack given that over 40% of stuff packed return unused (maybe the extra layer of sweater is needed??or the umbrella besides the poncho and raincoat???Hmm lets pack all).

Also did my research on the popular local cuisines/ must see places in Srinagar and nearby areas (for options to choose the day long bike ride at the end of the trek).

Here is a list of the must do places in Srinagar(and my personal comments on them) freely sourced from all possible sources on the Internet and you tube.

Srinagar day visit:

1) Stay @ house boat in dal Lake ( Done that and would recommend)
Stayed at House boat Royal Airhna @ Rs 1000 per night(Rs 1400 with dinner and breakfast)
Ph : +91 99062 61802 C/o Firoz tours and travels.

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2) Shikara on Dal lake -(preferably local market starts @ 5am till 6 am ) appx Rs 500 for a ride.
Worth it.

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3) check the floating Post Office on Dal lake .
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4) Nigeen lake (twin sister of Dal lake.similar/ cleaner and less crowded.

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Enjoyed a puff of hookah with a local shikara boatsman.
The hookah is a simple device with tobacco sucked after going through some water which acts as a filter.
As a non smoker was tough though

5) Pari Mahal - This is a top of the hill palace /garden from where one can get a birds eye view of the entire dal lake( nice but felt it was hyped a bit)

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6) chashme Shahi garden- Can be combined with Pari mahal as one needs to cross this enroute to Pari Mahal . this is a small garden with a source of a spring having medicinal properties.

7) Shalimar Gardens- photogenic place and worth the visit.

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8) Nishat gardens - didn’t make it due to lack of time

9) Tulip Gardens/Botanical Gardens- best season is only during tulip flowering time in summer .The Botanical gardens is under hyped and worth a visit.

10) Hazratbal shrine - worth of history interests one .

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11) Jama Masjid- reminds one of Buddhist architecture especially the dome shape .Again if historically inclined.

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12) Shankaracharya temple - Temple on top of a hill .Didn’t make it this time but worth a visit.

13) Dachigam national park - worth spending a day but need permission from forest Dept on dal lake. Closed when I visited.

Other notable places are char Chinar garden / hari parvat /visit to the Lal chowk market.

Coming back to our narrative me and Arthy planned to combine the above places with a few eatery joints and hired a taxi @ 2500 which included the Rs 600 pick up from airport.

We had landed at Srinagar airport just after lunch time and were absolutely famished.

The weather gods decided to smile on us as it dramatically stopped raining 10 mins before we landed and a warm 25C sunny Srinagar welcomed us.

There was some minor drama as the authorities didn’t care about the double vaccine certificate or the recent covid positive test but asked to go with a rapid antigen test which was done rather quickly and efficiently with a fail result.(which in this case was a pass).Like Amitabh had to endure a “Mera baap chor hain “ stamp on his hand I too got a exempt stamp put on my hand which was my gateway out of the airport.

Lunch was the first thing on our agenda and we requested Farooq our driver to stop at an “Authentic Kashmiri dhaba” to get our first experience of the famed Kashmiri cuisine.

We stopped at this dhaba which was more punjabi than Kashmiri as we dug into some rajma chawal and roti with black dal and lassi to complete the meal.

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After dropping Arthy's bags at her hotel we started on the Srinagar tour hoping to cover as many places as we could and grab as many local food as we could like any typically greedy traveller worth their salt would.

So here is a collage of a day well spent exploring the city and its many delights.

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That’s Arthy dressed to kill in a traditional Kashmiri attire.This is a fun thing to do at Shalimar Gardens with dresses on hire and instant photos given.

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The mighty Chinar tree with leaves similar to the maple leaf which along with the Deodhar tree dominates the landscape here.

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Nehru garden.

Srinagar as a city seemed to revolve and thrive around the dal lake which was about 23 kms in circumference.

The fun of a trip is to see the best places /stay at the best places and of course eat the best local food and which is what we did as we hit a few of the famed street food joints and popular hotels but missed most of the ones on the list marked below as lack of time was the biggest hindrance.

That despite the daylight which starts at 6 am extends practically 8 pm at night before darkness sets in.

On the must try list was

1) nadru Palak -spinach with lotus stems
2) nadru yakni -lotus stem in yoghurt sauce
3) Phirni sweet
4) shufta sweet
5) Kahwa at winterfell cafe dal lake
6) chai at chai jaai
7) food at Ahdoos -The most poplular food joint in Srinagar.
8) food at Krishna dhaba
9) namkeen chai
10) masal and masal tchot
11) Walnut fudge at moonlight bakery (divine and must have )
12) Halwa paratha
13) Dilbahar kulfi at Gobi khan market
14) Sweets busrakh/Khand gazar/Shangram

For the non veg is the wazwan and for the best veg sabzis is the Kashmiri dum aloo and paneer Chaman and the sweet Kashmiri pulao.

That said some of the beautiful experiences which each place brings which is to be felt but cannot be captured on photos is what you remember about the place .Like here it was the driver Farooq who promised to take us to Pari mahal as it was closed when we reached/or that he extended a personal invite to have dinner at his place to enjoy local food delicacies/or the road side vendor who refused to take money for the namkeen chai saying we were guests.

These experiences make your life every so richer .
So finally after an action packed day and a good night’s sleep at the house boat it was time to embark on the main course and that was taking a drive to Aru valley and reach the base camp for the Tarsar Marsar trek.

Day 2:

An early morning shikara ride to the vegetable market where one needs to reach by 5 am to enjoy the typical hustle and bustle of a market place.There are vendors who would keep trying to coax you into buying their wares which is fun as you bargain and buy some trinkets to gift for folks back home. Buying the fresh bread from the bakery shaped like a small tandoor roti is a must do. Having had breakfast it was time to reach the meeting point.
The drive from Srinagar to Aru valley base camp is about 100 kms and takes about 3 hours.The entire arrangements were done by Firoz tours and travels and cost about Rs 550 per person.

The route which was mainly through the Srinagar -Jammu highway passed through the saffron growing hotbed of Kashmir as well as the cricket bat manufacturing factories.

We stopped to have a nice hot cups of Kahwa made from saffron and other herbs and garnished with almond pieces. Shopping for dry fruits can be made on this sector with almonds / walnuts / cranberry / blueberries / blackberries / dried apricots and other dried fruits as well as saffron to take back home. Will mention prices later when we bought them on the way back.

As soon as we hit the country roads we came across orchards of apples/pears/walnuts and apricot on both sides of the road as well as majestic huge Chinar trees.

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This season peaking in September is when all streets of Kashmir are flooded with yummy juicy apples/pears and apricots retailing at Rs 30 per kg onwards and fruit bearing orchards are such a pleasure to see especially for folks like us from down south of the country.

Last edited by Rehaan : 12th October 2021 at 19:28. Reason: Small change so the post displays a bit better on mobile :)
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Old 7th October 2021, 23:50   #2
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Lunch was enroute in the apple valley restaurant which by far was the best authentic Kashmiri veg food I had enjoyed in this trip .The black dal/dum aloo and paneer Chaman was lip smacking and out of the world.

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The last 12 kms of the journey from pahelgaon to Aru valley with the white Lidder river gurgling in full glory and the first showers of rain making the place misty was simply divine and magical.

The base camp was at friends guest house. A short distance away was the Milky Way hotel where I had stayed 6 years ago and went to catch up with Bilal the owner who had a wonderful place and also organises short treks in that area.

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He has personally built the new rooms and can vouch that he has the go to place to stay if one plans a trip to Aru the small little piece of heaven up here.

His details were shared in my last blog on Kashmir. Had to refuse the dinner which he insisted I should have with him as I had to get back to the base camp but instead settled to have a hot cuppa kahwa.

Returned back to the base camp where we had our introduction session and met our trek lead Deep as well as co lead Shraddha and the two local guides Qasim and Junaid. Deep of course was to regale us later of his back tracking exploits in South America where he spent a year back packing after quitting his IT job in Bangalore.

A good nights sleep at the base camp and off we were raring to go for the next camp at Lidderwat about 10kms away.

Day 3:

At the crack of dawn we set out to Lidderwat which serves as a base for both the Tarsar-Marsar and Kolahai (known as the Matterhorn of Kashmir)where the streams from both locations meet and merge at Lidderwat and become the flowing white color Lidder river. Me and Aarthy made a futile attempt at Aru market to buy a cake for Selvi who was ushering in her 60th birthday tomorrow.

The trek is relatively simple for the 10 kms. The topography is a mix of carpets of green meadows /tall deodar trees and the ever flowing Lidder river which always is somewhere around us.

The shepherd huts which are mud/stone houses with a roof covered by mud and grass for the landscape at frequent intervals and serve as homes for the nomadic shepherds during the summer and rainy seasons where grass is in abundance to feed their flock of sheep.

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Kids kept asking for sweets or money and had a small box of tic tacs which I was distributing in exchange for their names and hopefully a kiss on my cheek.

Even having lunch was such a heavenly experience. Imagine an open air restaurant with soft green grass meadows as far as the eye could see with mountains in the background and the blue sky with soft white fluffy clouds and the gurgling white Lidder river flowing with a soothing sound!
We were actually living it right there .

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The trek was unhurried as we stopped for hot kahwa and yummy omelettes facing the river from the dhabas which are set up only for the trekking season.

By early evening we reached the campsite.

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Where there is a store there is a Gujarati!

The fun/tough part about the trek was the no water eco toilet which was a small pit dug with 2 wooden slabs to rest the legs and sawdust to cover up.
For us urban folks we learnt that all we need is less than a minute to do the essential business!
For me sleeping in the tent was a nightmare and my experience in this and the previous treks were terrible with the score reading nights spent in tents -8 .Slept -0.

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The night sky was clear and we could spot the Milky Way easily.
The good part about trekking with India hikes is that they follow a green trails experience where we pick any plastic enroute and collect them in the eco bags.

This is then segregated into categories like landfill/recyclable etc and put in appropriate bags for disposal in the city.

Again water usage is curtailed by use of the 3 bowl method with one for cleaning/rinsing and final dip which ensure that with no running tap and the same set of water for all trekkers significant amount of water is saved. Much like the half bucket bath instead of the shower @ home.

The philosophy is simple let us leave the mountains a cleaner place than how we found it.

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Day 4:

Today was the big day. It was our first time trekker sizzling selvi’s 60th birthday.

She and Gigi were simply amazing in their spirits that to usher in their 60th year they decided to try trekking for the first time and we were fortunate to be part of their journey and in their memories.

Good luck Selvi and Gigi and maybe there be many more such treks and fun in your life !
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We had chikkis to celebrate the event and our youngest in the group Devyu played the exotic zen Zula.

Today’s journey where we ascend to a height of 11039 feet was to the Shekwas campsite and we had to cross the river twice! Once negotiating over a log and the other over a wooden bridge.

Again the route took us through larger than football size green patches and some huge boulders which were a tad tough to negotiate.

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We passed through a plethora of flowers along the way.

Homwas was another pasture we crossed to reach the campsite of Shekwas besides the river bed.After setting up the camp and having a nice hot cups tea and snacks whipped up by our cook Mamu we set out to explore the river side.

The water was ice cold and the hours flew by as we splashed and played in the water and when we reached back to the camp we we’re asked to form a circle and boy was it a surprise as Mamu had baked a carrot cake to celebrate Selvi’s birthday.

Never was a cake more tastier than this thanks to the occasion and the place.
What a perfect way to end the day. Felt proud that the spirit of these young women @60 and hoped would be able to emulate that feat when I too reached 60!

Day 5: Shekwas to Tarsar lake site .

5kms as we ascend to 12449 feet right by the lake side.
Trivia time. There are 3 lakes we see on this trek and camp by 2 of them. The first being Tarsar and the other being Sundersar .We see the 3rd Marsar only from a distance.

As always there is a story or folklore behind every name .The twin alpine torquise coloured lakes of Tarsar and Marsar literally translated to life giving lake (Tarsar)and death lake (Marsar).The meadows between both is called Jag Margi and again loosely translated to meadows of death .

It was believed that a shepherd lost his sheep when she drank from the lake and the grief stricken shepherd carried the sheep to the Tarsar where in drinking the water it got back to life ! Wow

The Kashmiri’s believe that even today no one drinks a sip from the Marsar as it could lead to death . Hmm at least ensures that the lakes remain pristine for generations to come and enjoy.

The most likely reasoning was that the meadows probably had wild plants which were poisonous and the cattle having eaten that feel violently sick and that could have happened when sipping water from the Marsar. It was possible the effects of the poison reduced and the cattle was able to revive by the time the shepherd reached the Tarsar.( Sar in Kashmiri means lake)
That of course was our city bred logic working overtime always trying to ensure everything in life had a logic and explanation.
Let the pictures do the talking

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That was our first view of the Tarsar and frankly was a disappointment as it looked nothing like the turquoise color lake photos that we had seen .

The lake was silver grey in color but looked serene and majestic
We spent the rest of the day exploring around the lake.

Last edited by Aditya : 9th October 2021 at 20:03. Reason: Non-forum characters deleted
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Old 8th October 2021, 22:12   #3
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A more adventurous group decided to take a trek of about 4 hours which took them to a top of a mountain where one could view both the Tarsar and the Marsar in one frame.

The rest of us took it easy just lazing around taking photos

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Staring at the kolahai mountain peak .
Day 6: Tarsar lake to Sundersar lake campsite .

5kms ascending to 12946 feet after reaching the highest point in the trek of 13201 feet enroute.

The toughest ascend of the trek .And boy did it start with some bad news.
My tent mate Tejas a strapping strong and fit young boy doing his engineering was down with a case of AMS.

Through the night his oxygen level dropped to the 50’s and Deep our trek lead spend the night in the tent giving him oxygen and medicines and hardly sleeping a wink as the night passed very tersely.
We had apparently (me and Tejas) made an error when we had taken a tablet of Dispirin (a blood thinner) instead of paracetamol to ease a head ache.

More bad news was to follow .
Jharna ,Gigi and Selvi too had to drop out due to AMS and other health reasons and so the 4 of them with Jasmine and our co trek lead Shradha accompanied them back to the Aru base camp.

Except for Tejas all others opted to take the horse ride back (which was in my opinion a much tougher task than Walking!)
He did the 25 kms descend effortlessly. Luckily the cure for AMS besides a dose of diamox tablet is simply losing height. We later got news that all were fine and fit thankfully.
The team was going to miss all of them but like the famous cliche “the show must go on” and so we did go on to the next 2 lakes the Sundersar and Marsar.

The trek started with a steep ascend as we scaled the pass to reach the top of the mountain to cross over.

The silver grey lake color had now turned a deep blue and was to become the familiar turquoise color by the time we reached the top of the peak .The calmness of the water and the day light I guess made the same lake so different from each angle .What a beauty of nature.

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This of course was assuming that the photos were unfiltered and natural as the eyes could see.
We stopped to savour the moment and reflect on the beauty that unfolded before us .

There were a lot of photos clicked selfies and as a group to capture this moment for ever.

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Our moment of glory now done with we had to make a descend to the Jagmargi meadows to continue towards the Sundersar.
Now any descend takes my goat and this was a pretty steep one.

Safely negotiating the same we were in the meadows of Jagmargi and were welcomed with a small pond and lots of wild flowers.

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As in the valley of flowers the melting snow offers plenty of water to the huge grass land for a rich bio diversity of wild flowers to flourish.
This year however we were a tad unlucky as the snow extended for a longer period and the natural season got delayed. The expected carpet of coloured flowers on the green canvas remained a wish for perhaps another day .

Hmm a hot cup of kahwa and a nice hot bowl of noodles was pure bliss and playing with the chubby 6 month old Zeeshan was an icing on the cake.

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Ah ! The Sundersar camp on the edge of the lake was a great site location.

After lunch we were all set to take a small hike to Marsar lake when we got to know that our Chotu Devyu’s oxygen level was marginally low in the 80’s .
Like athletes are constantly tested for dope we trekkers were checked thrice a day for our oxygen and Bp levels. Kudos to India Hikes team to maintain all safety precautions.

Deep took a call that no chance was to be taken as if we waited till night medical aid if needed would be tough and so Devyu and his mom along with our guide Junaid headed back to the Lidderwat camp site to await us.

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The Sundersar from a height.
As we reached the meadows after the climb and the small remnants of ice there was a sudden hailstorm shower .The first we experienced during the day .
We were lucky that all the hailstorms we had to encounter were from the safety of the tents at night though tonight was going to be special with a severe storm when we thought we would be swept away .But that is going ahead of our story.

So after the rain stopped I was sprinting away to the peak as I was told to hurry by fellow trekkers returning who said the clouds had engulfed the lake and needed to reach when there was still some visibility.
The Tarsar lake is known for playing hide and seek with the clouds and giving a peek between them as the wind blew .
Being the first up there I was to experience it as the thick blanket of white just parted to reveal the most divine turquoise coloured lake to view.

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Hmm a simply magical moment which I was so fortunate to experience. We just couldn’t get enough of the surreal beauty and just as we thought it couldn’t possibly get better Deep with a simple act upped the ante. He gave us a post card to write a letter the old fashioned way. It was akin to writing to your loved one from heaven.

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Could keep posting photos of the same but finally we did manage to leave back only to see the Sundersar from top .equally breathtaking.

Day 7: The penultimate day.

In my book the toughest as the descent was about 19 kms .There is generally a break over at Homwas but there seems to be a recent directive from the Govt against camping on the meadows to protect the fragile eco biodiversity.

Couldn’t agree more with the idea so that our future generation should also be able to enjoy these.

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This was a different route to the one we took to reach here.There is an alternative to also head towards Sonmarg from here instead of Aru.
By around 4 reached Lidderwat campsite for the last night of our trek.
Attached Thumbnails
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Last edited by Aditya : 9th October 2021 at 06:27.
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Old 8th October 2021, 23:07   #4
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It was all fun and games including tic tac toe and dog and the bone and then of course sharing our experiences to be finally handed over the Tarsar Marsar fridge magnet.

Day 8: return back to Aru valley campsite to disperse back .10 kms trek
Pretty much similar to the trek on the way here except for a small twist in the tale and a chance encounter.

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Got to meet ace Indian golfer Jyoti Randhawa who was biking with his friend and stopped me thinking we had met before!
We spent over half an hour chatting and exchanging notes like long lost buddies.
And then there we were finally back.

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The feelings were mixed .Melancholy on having to bid adieu to most of my friends here and also to the beauty of Aru valley but felt great to have a hot shower, a western toilet and looking forward to tonight for a good nights sleep in a warm bed.
Now it was party time and our team of six Naman,Chandan,Arthy,Madhuri and Suraj were sharing the taxi back to Srinagar.
Naman wanted to have mutton at Paradise hotel in Pahelgaon and that is where we headed first.

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We also stopped to buy dry fruits for taking back for folks back home .Realised that the best place to buy dry fruits is actually Pahelgaon which is the orchard of Kashmir. But we ended up buying here from the wholesale market.The dry fruits were of top notch quality.The walnuts and almonds when crushed by hand just oozed oil.
For a heads up on what is the appx cost which I guess is good knowledge to have the rates are per kg
1) Good quality walnuts Rs 1100
2) Good quality almonds Rs 1200
3) Dried Apricots/Blu berries/Black berries/Cran berries/Peaches/strawberries appx 800-1000.
Reached Srinagar by late evening.

After all who had to get their RTPCR done we parted to our respective hotels rather the 5 of them were together partying till 3 am and I joined Tejas who was flying the next day at hotel Shefaf.

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Happened to meet my old trek lead Aditya there who was exploring a new trek route
Finally slept well for the first time after all the nights spent sleepless in the tents .
Next morning had 2 things on the agenda .Pick the bike for a local ride after a great struggle as all of them had only bullets (for the Ladakh drive) while I was comfortable in a Bajaj avenger 220 .
The other of course was meet up with the rest of the gang at Sri krishna dhaba for breakfast and goodbyes.

Picked up the bike @ 1300 rental per day (24 hours basis)from Hisham Maqbool of Kashmir adventure bikers

When I met Kashmir-bike.jpg
Kashmir Adventure bikers-Bike rentals
070064 74722
https://maps.app.goo.gl/6MWr7oYv6Z1CKsCB6
He was decent enough to not take the mandatory Rs 5000 security deposit and was flexible in the return when I was delayed by a few hours .
The bike was decent and was my steed for the next day and a half.
The original plan was to drive to Kokernag and shintan top.
But the advantage of going with an empty canvas or no fixed plans and bookings is that plans can get changed at a moment’s notice and it had to !
Hisham suggested to go to Naranagh temple in Gandarbal district the grape capital of Kashmir.

For people who have a few days off for a car or bike drive the car (Mahindra thar costs appx 5500 per day) there are plenty of options short and long .
Drive from Srinagar
Ladakh tops the list.
Sonmarg 2 hours
Yusmarg 50 kms -nil nag lake
Gulmarg 1.5 hours
Dachigam national park 25 kms .
Kokarnag 90 kms
Kishtwar-pine trees and Kishtwar national park
Kupwara-90 kms meadows and mountains
Pulwama- saffron fields and rice bowl villages
Sanasar -adventure sports
Gurez
Doodhpatri
After all that research headed somewhere else altogether

Reached and covered the temple ruins in a few hours and had the rest of the day to check where else I could head to ? Wular lake,kokernag or Zo jilla pass ?

When I met Kashmir-ruins-1.jpg
When I met Kashmir-ruins-2.jpg
When I met Kashmir-ruins-3.jpg
When I met Kashmir-ruins-4.jpg

Took a decision to head towards Zo Jilla once considered one of the most difficult roads to drive in in the world before the tunnel was constructed and the thrill missed.
Reached Sonmarg by about 6 pm and Zo jilla was still 24 kms away .
Took a call to book a hotel for the night stay and booked in the inexpensive J & K tourism hut .
When I met Kashmir-sonmarg-1.jpg
When I met Kashmir-sonmarg-2.jpg

Tried heading towards the pass as there is sufficient day light till 7.30 but half way through decided that time was not on my side as it would be tricky to drive in the dark at that altitude with the poor bike head light.
So the plan was take an early morning drive by 6 am so that could comfortably reach back to Srinagar by 11 am and drop the bike to catch the 5 pm flight back.
Next day morning started by 6.45 towards Zo jilla and zero point .
As it had rained the previous night the roads were slushy.The early morning start ensured heavy traffic from Ladakh side as the road opened after the night halt.
The roads were narrow and with the continuous stream of trucks it was a tough experience to say the least .
When I met Kashmir-zo-jilla-1.jpg
When I met Kashmir-zo-jilla-2.jpg
When I met Kashmir-zo-jilla-3.jpg
When I met Kashmir-zo-jilla-4.jpg
When I met Kashmir-zo-jilla-5.jpg

But what fun it was and then reached the Shiv temple where the army folks were doing a Pooja and took a darshan.Had to take a call whether to go ahead the 4 more kms to zero point which the army folks encouraged me to as there was still some residual snow.

Decided against it and turned back to head towards the hotel, a hot shower and a nice breakfast.

Saw Farah’s guest house on the way back from Sonmarg to Srinagar where we had stayed the last time we were here 6 years ago and had pleasant memories of Baby Farah who at 4 was 2 years younger than Smrithi and remember them having fun playing on the trampoline ,playing with the dogs and cats and watching frozen on the laptop.

The comfortable guest house was run by Rashid and his French wife Adele who cooked a killer breakfast.
When I met Kashmir-farah.jpg

Enjoyed a cup of tea and had to refuse breakfast as time was short.
Did manage time to squeeze in a visit to Pari mahal and a box of walnut fudge from moonlight bakery to take back home and of course post the postcard from the floating post office on Dal lake .

When I met Kashmir-mahal.jpg

And then it was time to return the bike and head towards the Airport to home sweet home.

That is till it was time to pack my bags for the next trip.

Last edited by Aditya : 9th October 2021 at 20:03. Reason: Non-forum characters deleted
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Old 9th October 2021, 06:19   #5
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11th October 2021, 12:32   #6
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Hey @vijayols, I was on the Tarsar Marsar Trek (TMT) from 7th-13th Aug!
I had gone with Trek The Himalayas and the experience was very good.
I know it is difficult to capture the beauty but you have done a great job here!

And you didn't miss out much when you skipped Nishat Garden. It is similar to Shalimaar Garden albeit much closer to the Lake. I hopped on the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus and went there admiring the view of Dal Lake in the evening with the setting sun. Money well spent!

Your's Truly, from Marsar Lake
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Old 11th October 2021, 15:35   #7
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Thanks for the excellent pics and account of the trek and travel. I envy you for all the extra days you got to spend apart from trekking and biking that you could do in Kashmir.

I did the other famous trek - Kashmir Great Lakes and it was one of the most beautiful treks I've ever been.
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Old 12th October 2021, 22:44   #8
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Originally Posted by turbospooler View Post
Hey @vijayols, I was on the Tarsar Marsar Trek (TMT) from 7th-13th Aug!
I had gone with Trek The Himalayas and the experience was very good.
I know it is difficult to capture the beauty but you have done a great job here!

And you didn't miss out much when you skipped Nishat Garden. It is similar to Shalimaar Garden albeit much closer to the Lake. I hopped on the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus and went there admiring the view of Dal Lake in the evening with the setting sun. Money well spent!

Your's Truly, from Marsar Lake
Attachment 2217791
@ turbospooler wow can almost feel the chill fresh air from your photo
Thats a to do the next time to hop on the bus as it looked amazing and was probably a great way to explore Srinagar.Is the frequency good enough that you can actually explore a place and then still not have to wait too long to hop on to the next bus very much how it is in any city abroad?

Somehow missed Nishat Garden the last time that I had been to Srinagar too!Am sure most of the Gardens there wouldn't be too radically different though the botanical garden is supposed to be beautiful.

Are you planning on a winter trek this year? Had done Dayara Bhugyal this January.

Cheers.
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Old 12th October 2021, 23:00   #9
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Originally Posted by somspaple View Post
Thanks for the excellent pics and account of the trek and travel. I envy you for all the extra days you got to spend apart from trekking and biking that you could do in Kashmir.

I did the other famous trek - Kashmir Great Lakes and it was one of the most beautiful treks I've ever been.
@ somapale thanks for the kind words.From people who have done both of the most popular treks(including a girl from my TM trek) in Kashmir I gather the Great lakes has a definite edge in terms of being one of the best treks in India though for me personally the Valley of flowers is right at the top.

The extra days(even if it just a day and a half this time ) spent exploring around on a bike has been for me as enjoyable as the trek itself with a blank canvas to go where the heart takes you.The last time around spent time at Landour near Mussorie exploring places like a private forest Jabarkhet and offbeat places like the haunted mine, a chance to get autographed books from Ruskin Bond and of course the best of food is surely an experience I would strongly recommend to any trekker. Mine have been always fortunately or unfortunately solo and arguably among the most memorable experiences.

Cheers and happy trekking.
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Old 12th October 2021, 23:33   #10
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Originally Posted by vijayols View Post
@ somapale thanks for the kind words.From people who have done both of the most popular treks(including a girl from my TM trek) in Kashmir I gather the Great lakes has a definite edge in terms of being one of the best treks in India though for me personally the Valley of flowers is right at the top.

The extra days(even if it just a day and a half this time ) spent exploring around on a bike has been for me as enjoyable as the trek itself with a blank canvas to go where the heart takes you.The last time around spent time at Landour near Mussorie exploring places like a private forest Jabarkhet and offbeat places like the haunted mine, a chance to get autographed books from Ruskin Bond and of course the best of food is surely an experience I would strongly recommend to any trekker. Mine have been always fortunately or unfortunately solo and arguably among the most memorable experiences.

Cheers and happy trekking.
We couldn't spend extra days in Kashmir due to usual tense situation back then in Kashmir. Here is a brief account of my trek:
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...n-kashmir.html (Knee bursting, toe crushing, back breaking trek into heaven - Kashmir!)
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Old 13th October 2021, 00:14   #11
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Wow what an amazing and inspiring log! It's threads like this that has made the Travelogues section one of my favourite one on the forum. Looks like you had a wonderful experience.

My friends and I have been planning a Kashmir trek for a few years now, but things always keep coming up, it's either someones wedding, or the pandemic, or the unrest. But your experience has got me thinking, maybe I should bring it up again in our group!
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Old 13th October 2021, 14:27   #12
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Wow what an amazing and inspiring log! It's threads like this that has made the Travelogues section one of my favourite one on the forum. Looks like you had a wonderful experience.

My friends and I have been planning a Kashmir trek for a few years now, but things always keep coming up, it's either someones wedding, or the pandemic, or the unrest. But your experience has got me thinking, maybe I should bring it up again in our group!
@porcupine.You bet that the experience of trekking in kashmir was simply divine.Though there are so many beautiful locations in India I would say in my books Kashmir and Uttarakhand top the list.

Don't wait pack your bags and show some photos of the trek and go for it.
For the kashmir experience undoubtedly the great lakes and Tarsar marsar are the best to aim for.
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Old 13th October 2021, 15:07   #13
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We couldn't spend extra days in Kashmir due to usual tense situation back then in Kashmir. Here is a brief account of my trek:
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...n-kashmir.html (Knee bursting, toe crushing, back breaking trek into heaven - Kashmir!)
The blog was just amazing.Somehow missed the Great lakes trek with YHAI with article 370 and did the valley of flowers then and this time too wanted to do Great lakes but as family was to join and the wife chose Tarsar Marsar missed it again.Could understand with the situation in Kashmir it was lucky you were not stuck at Srinagar.

The next chance you get to trek do plana few days for a solo bike ride.It is truly worth it.
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Old 14th October 2021, 18:30   #14
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The blog was just amazing.Somehow missed the Great lakes trek with YHAI with article 370 and did the valley of flowers then and this time too wanted to do Great lakes but as family was to join and the wife chose Tarsar Marsar missed it again.Could understand with the situation in Kashmir it was lucky you were not stuck at Srinagar.

The next chance you get to trek do plana few days for a solo bike ride.It is truly worth it.
Thanks! For sure will look out for biking option. With improved situation there might as well convince my better half to join the adventure with me!
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Old 14th October 2021, 19:31   #15
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The valley I guess is cursed to be susceptible to volatility and hope to see a time in the future when we never have to wait for the “situation to improve” status.

Luckily the vast spread of the Himalayas ensure we can also enjoy its beauty from so many states.
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