A cold rain splashed morning, wet wild flowers, blue misted snowy mountains and endless yellow fields of blooming mustard…welcome to a typical Kashmiri spring day. Apple orchards were bursting with flowers, when my jeep rumbled over semi broken roads towards Daksum. Sinthan Top was still closed due to heavy snow and cherry blossoms added generous splashes of pink to the landscape. This is Kashmir beyond the well trodden tourist circuit and though floods have wrecked havoc with the roads, the trip into the interior is very every effort. It was a sunny day when I left fresh smelling Kokkernag for my overnight stay at Daksum. Sun pierced through the cold and the air was crystal clear. Shepherds went out grazing with their bleating nimble footed herds of sheep and farmers surveyed their fields with satisfaction. Here and there, old fashioned water wheels harvested gurgling streams and pine forests covered brown mountains like a rich carpet.
Kashmir stood up to its reputation of being breathtakingly beautiful and I was looking forward to Daksum. Touted as one of Kashmir‘s offbeat still undiscovered jewels, Daksum is a trekker‘s and nature lovers paradise. Located at 2,438 meters above sea level, it is 40 kilometres south east of Anantnag and many offbeat travellers visit it on day trips from Kokkernag or Verinag. Surrounded by the snow clad Pir Panjal range, lush coniferous forests, grassy meadows, gurgling brooks and clusters of Gurjar (nomadic shepherd) hutments, River Bringhi gushes through it. The mountain river carries an enviable amount of Daksum‘s famous trout and this virginal spot is more lively in summer. On that spring day, however, the tiny village was hardly inhabited. The one and only tourist accommodation facility, run by Jammu and Kashmir Govt, was undergoing construction work at the time of my visit and electricity was playing truant.
The caretaker, who was taken aback by my solo woman traveller status, kindly brought some extra blankets, candles and kangri (traditional wicker basket coal heaters) and all my meals came from his home. My stay at Daksum tourist bungalow was very short and thunderstorm, pitch darkness and (possibly imaginary) strange noises at night, prompted me to return to Kokkernag the next afternoon. Lack of electricity, flickering candle light and being the only tourist in the entire property, did not help matters also and for the first time, I did not crave for solitude. However, in retrospect, I must say that Daksum was unbelievably beautiful and in all my 15 years of traveling, I have hardly come across a place, so tranquil. it is a perfect retreat for summer months and the air there, smells of sweet, unknown wild flowers. Daksum is synonymous with fragrant peace and it is one place, I would like to go back for some quiet moments with my love.
TRAVEL TIP – Located around 85 kilometres from Srinagar (40 kilometres from Anantnag), Daksum is a beautiful picnic spot. It lies on the Anantnag Sinthan Kishtwar road and the entire area is covered up with coniferous forest, grassy meadows and sparkling snow fed streams. The trekking route to Kishtwar passes through Daksum and it leads to Sinthan Pass at 3,748 meters (and also to Sinthan top). The pass remains open from April to September and the govt. tourist bungalow is a comfortable place to stay. There are also camping sites in and around Daksum, and fish lovers should not miss sampling the local trout.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE