Poetry of Nature
Set like a jewelled
crown on the map of India, Kashmir is a
many-faceted diamond, changing its character with
the seasons always extravagantly beautiful. Three
Himalayan ranges - Karakoram, Zanskar and Pir
Panjal - snow-capped, majestic, frame
the landscape from northwest to northeast. They
are the birthplace of great rivers which flow down
into the valleys below, forested with wild
orchards and lily laden lakes.
It is not enough to
say that Kashmir is beautiful. Kashmir has
captured within its territories the
quintessence of all the elements that poetry
demands of nature. Awesome grandeur,
serenity, a wild profusion of color. The
Mughals, who celebrated beauty, planted
their symmetrical gardens and added a
further dimension to the valleys of Kashmir.
They also left behind a heritage of
exquisite artisanship among the people,
making the handicrafts of the land prized
gifts the world over.
A medley of nature's topography and colors.
A land where myriad
holiday ideas take shape. In winter, when
snow carpets the mountains, skiing,
toboganning, sled-riding are popular sports.
In spring and summer, the honey-dewed
orchards, rippling lakes and blue skies
beckon every soul to sample the many
delights the mountains and valleys have to
offer. Golf at 3000 meters above the sea,
water-skiing sailing and angling for prized
rainbow trout. Or simply drift into dreams
down the willow fringed alleys of lakes in
gorgeous houseboats. The possibilities are
Entrancing Sonamarg's green pastures.
Unspoilt by the
ravages of progress, 96 kms east of Srinagar,
nestled on the banks of the river Lidder
lies the quaint village of Pahalgam.
The serious angler's delight, even amateurs
manage a fair catch of rainbow trout from
the rushing streams with bustling schools of
fish. The large brown bear is a natural
inhabitant of the thick pine and fir forests
that cover the mountainside. Pahalgam offers
a golf course at 2400 meters above sea level
and is well equipped as a base for trekkers.
Camping equipment, ponies and porters are
readily available. Kolahoi glacier is the
popular destination via Aru, a charming
meadow. Pilgrims bound for Amarnath
stop at Pahalgam, their first point of
India's finest ski
resort, Gulmarg, 53 kms from Srinagar,
is known as the meadow of flowers. It
also has the distinction of offering the
highest natural golf course in the world at
2890 meters. Mid-December to March, Gulmarg
becomes an exciting winter sports resort.
Skiing, toboganning, ski- bobbing, are some
of the activities offered here, with
instruction and equipment facilities. The
resort has one T-bar lift, a chair lift and
three modern ski-lifts.
Gulmarg's winter sports panorama.
at an altitude of 2470 meters with brilliant
forests of sycamore and alpine flowers,
silver birch, fir and pine, Sonamarg
is a golden meadow of enthralling beauty.
Three lakes Krishnasar, Vishensar and
Gangabal can be viewed from the
snow-covered Nichinai pass. 20 kms
east of Sonamarg is the Zojila pass
at 3540 meters which leads into the Ladakh
Trekkers rest near Gadsar.
In the heart of the
Bhringi valley, 70 kms away, is Kokernag
with its famous springs flowing at an
altitude of 2000 meters said to posses
miraculous curative powers. The remains of a
pavilion and baths built by the Moghuls can
be seen at Verinag, 80 kms away from
Srinagar. The river Jhelum has its
wildlife sanctuary, with the Himalayan black
and brown bear, musk deer and the Kashmiri
stag hangul is worth a visit. Then
there is Burzahom with the remains of
a settlement dating back to 2,500 BC. Chrar-e-Sharif,
the shrine of the patron saint of Kashmir,
Sheikh Nooruddin. Daksum, famous for
its trout fishing, at the far end of the
densely forested Bhringi valley.
About 56 kms away
from Srinagar, to the south, is Avantipur.
Famous for its sulphur springs and Moghul
summer palaces, Anantnag is also
nearby. On the way to Pahalgam is Martand
with a 7th century Vishnu temple built by
king Lalitaditya Muktapid. Martand is
also famous for its hot springs with
curative powers. A Surya temple built by
Lalitaditya lies in ruins 3 kms away,
revealing a definite Roman influence with
Bengali Pala architecture.