Kashmir travelogue 7: Sights in and around Srinagar

Read the previous parts of the travelogue here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

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This post is about some of the most memorable things we saw and experienced in Srinagar. If I were to put up pictures of each beautiful sight that we saw in Srinagar, the number would run into hundreds. So, for your viewing pleasure, here are some of our most special experiences.

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The apple orchard that we saw enroute to Pahalgam from Srinagar. This was the first time the OH and I set our eyes on apple trees, and came to know what they look like. Our cab driver was kind enough to seek the permission of the orchard’s caretaker for us to enter inside. We loved it at first sight, and our hearts lifted at the sight of rows and rows of apple trees which had just borne fruit. The caretaker told us that these apples would probably be ripe and ready to pluck by August or September. I would LOVE to go into an apple orchard again when the fruits are ripe, and help pluck them off the trees!

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The ruins of a temple of Lord Vishnu, popularly called ‘the ruins of Awantipura’. We stopped by these ruins in the town of Sangam, on the way to Pahalgam from Srinagar. The temple was built by King Awantiwarman in AD 855- 883! Later, it got destroyed by an earthquake and sunk into the ground. A group of archaeologists found the ruins and excavated them, long after. How fascinating!

Here and there, you can spot the face of a goddess or the curvaceous figure of a dancer, or the handsome profile of a god. We were so utterly charmed by these ruins that we took ages to explore each and every corner of it!

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Fresh apricots, ripe and ready to be plucked. We spotted these all over Srinagar. Our cab driver – who happened to be an expert tree-climber, was stunned to know that we had never had fresh apricots. He gingerly climbed up a tree and plucked a bag full of them for us! We kept telling him to mind his steps and be careful all the while, but he made it to the top safely. He was only too happy to get his customers a taste of the fresh ‘khubani’ (‘apricot’ in Kashmiri). My, what an experience it is to eat fruits straight off trees! I’ll never forget that!

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The Kashmiri Kahwa. It is the Kashmiri version of tea, made with saffron extract, slivers of almond and just a hint of sweet. It is said to cure cold and chest congestion, and improve skin tone and complexion. The taste takes a bit of getting used to. We just couldn’t palate it the couple of times we tried it out.

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The holy fishes of Martand. I have never seen a sight like this! There are thousands of fish in a pond at a small temple we visited in Martand, near Anantnag (not the famous Martand Sun Temple – this was another one). Feeding these fish is considered to be auspicious and is supposed to make all your wishes come true. Most devotees who visit the temple feed the fish with fish food that is readily available for sale in the premises. We fed them too, and the fishes THRONGED near us to eat the food!

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Kashmiri outfits on rent at the Mughal Garden in Srinagar. You can hire these outfits, and take your own pictures of yourself and your family or ask the photographers there to do so. The photographers give you hookahs (quite popular in Kashmir, by the way), flower vases and pots as photography props, too, as well as the traditional Kashmiri jewellery and head-dress. It is amusing to see tourists from all over India – young and old – donning these outfits and getting themselves photographed. Some kids look so adorable in the dresses that you just want to hoist them into your arms and pinch their cheeks till they are red! Yes, we took a couple of pics in these outfits, too!

Mughal Garden also has a spot called Chashmeshaahi, which is an outlet for the fresh water of a spring that flows from the mountains. The flowing water of the Chashmeshaahi is supposed to have medicinal properties, and can cure anything. A lot of people fill up the spring water in their bottles or cans. I was a tad skeptical about drinking the water when our cab driver told us about it, but all my doubts were dispelled when I saw the water – it is ultra pure, crystal clear and tasty, maybe because the source of the water is untouched and out of the way of tourists.

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This fallen tree at Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar. It is a miracle in that it still continues to grow, shoot out leaves and branches in spite of being entirely uprooted! I don’t know how!

I fell in love with Shalimar Bagh, which was built by Mughal emperor Jahangir for his wife Noor Jehan. I found it so, so, so very beautiful. We kept roaming in it for hours on end. How couldn’t we, when the views from every angle were beautiful…. like this….

…. and this?

This is apparently the place from where Noor Jehan used to look out at the garden her beloved had had built for her pleasure. I couldn’t believe the fact that I was standing on the same ground where emperors and queens have stood YEARS ago! I had the very same feeling when I visited the Taj Mahal and several historical monuments in Delhi last year.

Sadly, these structures inside Shalimar Bagh have not been well-maintained, and are crumbling and shabby – surely a far cry away from the way they would have looked when the Mughal emperor had had them constructed. It is pitiful that most of our citizens do not understand the value of historic monuments and have no qualms about graffiti-ing the walls of such places everywhere.

Oh, and before I forget, when you guys go to Kashmir, don’t forget to have ice cream outside Shalimar Bagh. The cones look a tad doubtful, with their bright orange colour, but otherwise, the ice cream is lovely. A touch of Milkmaid is added to the ice cream here – I haven’t seen that anywhere else!

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The leaf of a Chinar tree, which I spotted in Shalimar Bagh. Chinar trees abound in Kashmir, and I loved the unique shape of their leaves. The leaves are somewhat similar in shape to those of the maple tree. A lot of dresses and shawls available in Kashmir have Chinar-leaf-shaped embroidery on them.

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The Kashmiri willow trees. They are such a beautiful sight, I can’t tell you! Popularly called ‘weeping willow’, these trees abound all over Kashmir, particularly in Pahalgam. I can’t ever forget the sight of them.

These willows are used to make cricket bats. In fact, Kashmir produces the largest number of cricket bats in India, which are sold the world over. There is a huge cricket bat industry in Kashmir, particularly in Sangam. We passed a number of stores preparing and selling cricket bats on the way to Pahalgam from Srinagar, via Sangam.

Stacks of cricket bats, prepared and set out in the sun to dry, make a pretty picture against the lush greenery of Kashmir, and are as much a part of the landscape of Sangam as the trees are.

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Our first taste of Kashmiri saag and Kashmiri pulao – the two most famous vegetarian dishes in Kashmir. As you can see from the pics, they are oil- and dryfruit- and calorie-laden.

We did not really like these dishes – just tasted them because we wanted to taste them.

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A trip of many new experiences, many thrills and much beauty was this one!

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28 thoughts on “Kashmir travelogue 7: Sights in and around Srinagar

  1. Awantipura, Mughal Garden, Kawha, Char Chinar..again my memories have become fresh..I know I keep repeating this but your travelogue rekindles all the fond memories of this beautiful place. Thank you! the pics are just awesome. Try your hand at professional photography. Although, you already seem like one!

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  2. Oh wow wow wow wow!

    Eating fruits off trees – wow ! Awesomeness πŸ™‚ and you had a chance to do that, so cool πŸ™‚ very nice of the driver !
    And seeing an apple orchard with fruits hanging and also seeing cherry blossoms is on my wish list for this life πŸ™‚
    Actually, I was waiting for you to mention those outfits, coz my uncles and aunts who have been there all came back with photos in those traditional attires and those photos now adorn their living rooms ;P
    So now thT you have fed the fish, your wishes willcome true ! πŸ™‚
    About not maintaining cultural heritage with respect, I can’t agree enough. :/ people should be penalized then and there with heavy heavy fines, I tellyou. Some not just show indifference also total disrespect and mockery.
    I never knew about Kashmir willow.
    Lovely pictures and totally enjoying your travelogue πŸ™‚

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  3. Oh those ruins and for that matter I find any archaeological sites very fascinating πŸ™‚ loved the pics!
    And eating fruits right out of trees is def. an experience in itself .. slurp πŸ˜€

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  4. Like RM, those gardens reminded me of Noor Jahan from the Feast of Roses πŸ˜€ And its so goosebump inducing na – to be standing where years ago there were kings and queens in their regal glory standing and watching the same sights? I totally get what you mean…

    Fresh Apples and Juicy Apricots – Yummm! Wish you could eat the apples though…

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    1. @Lifeslittletwists

      Yes, yes, a very goosebump-inducing feeling that is!

      Pity we couldn’t get to eat the apples. The fruits had just formed, and we were told it would take a couple of more months to ripen fully. However, more than eat the apples, I would have just loved to take in the sight of all those trees laden with ripe fruit. That would have been an experience in itself!

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    1. @Bikramjit

      Our driver told us they are called ‘khubani’. πŸ™‚

      Thank you! πŸ™‚ I am too lazy to watermark all the pics, and moreover, I don’t know how to do it too.

      Shalimar Bagh is beautiful. Really.

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      1. ohh, well someone will use ur pictures and not give you credit for those..

        I use picasa to watermark but there are hundred of way to do so , try it

        and I may be wrong, I had gone to srinagar when i was in 11th class , that was a lifetime AGO πŸ™‚

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  5. Such a beautiful post and pictures πŸ™‚
    The ruins of the Vishnu temple looks like a nice place. Me too love exploring ruins πŸ™‚
    Fresh Apricots! they look yummy πŸ™‚ and how nice of the driver to actually climb up the tree to get those for you. Wow!
    And you guys got yourself photographed in the Kashmiri outfit! Such things become memorable from a trip πŸ™‚
    I like the sound of Kashmiri Kahwa πŸ™‚ It must be a very healthy drink πŸ™‚
    And that Kashmiri saag and pulaao look yummy πŸ™‚
    I am going to come back to your travelogue when we plan a trip πŸ™‚

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  6. The food pictures are brilliant..yaa yaa..what else did you expect me to see first πŸ™‚

    That garden reminded me of that book on Noor Jahan…feast of roses πŸ™‚

    Loved the pictures rey…you sure have an alternate profession waiting for you

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    1. @R’s Mom

      Hee hee.. thank you. Glad you liked the pics! πŸ™‚

      I am yet to read The Feast of Roses. Heard that it is brilliant. I’m thinking that since I have already been to this place in Kashmir and to Delhi, I would be able to relate to the book better. Hai na?

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