‘Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream; to sit with elders of the gentle race, this world has seldom seen.’ – Page & Plant, ’73. These Kashmir photos will make you want to pack your bags and leave. One of the newest Union Territories of India, it is an exceptionally beautiful place. Circled by snow-capped peaks, the lovely 140 km Kashmir Valley is dotted with bowl-like lakes, lush orchards, and rolling meadows. Traditional wooden houses create pockets of villages amidst paddy fields and these are bordered with apple trees and poplars. The main city is Srinagar and its highlight is placid shimmering Dal Lake on which rows of stationary houseboats and shikaras (gondola-like boats) add splashes of colour. A little island in the middle has 3 or 4 old chinar trees that are perpetually reflected on the mirror-like surface of the lake. On the less urbanized eastern shore, the mountains are also reflected, and here and there are blooming pamposh (lotus) forests.

Loveliest of my Kashmir photos

The beauty of Kashmir has attracted visitors throughout centuries and it was the favourite summer getaway place of the Mughals. They literally lived here for half the year and decorated the valley with many lovely gardens. These are scattered in and around Srinagar along with the old town that bustles with Central Asian–style bazaars, Sufi shrines, a fortress, and many historic wooden mosques. Add in a mild summer climate, the rich Kashmiri cuisine, and famous local apples, walnuts, and almonds, and you know why backpackers, journeyers, and high-end tourists have been coming to Kashmir, for nigh on 500 years. There’s an intrinsically magical feel as the Vale of Kashmir bathes in the golden light of the setting sun. The canals and lakes of Srinagar seem to offer a timeless glance at another world, to a Shangrila where shikaras float effortlessly by and the call to prayer blends with the sing-song of Hindi film scores. Here are some of the loveliest of Kashmir photos taken by me and an introduction to my favourite places in the valley.

The beauty of Dal Lake

A vast sheet of water, Dal Lake is Srinagar’s jewel. It is one of the most photographed places of India and its calm water reflecting the carved wooden balconies of the houseboats and the misty peaks of the Pir Panjal mountains, are sheer delight. Despite its size and its close proximity to yet another large Nigeen Lake, Dal Lake is a very lively place. All-day long, flotillas of colourful shikaras (gondola-like taxi boats) skiff around the lake, transporting goods to market, children to school, and travellers to delightful houseboats. The more residential sections of the lake hold floating flower and vegetable markets and there is even a floating post office. Dal Lake features in most of Kashmir photos and it is easy to understand why.

A city of gardens

Shalimar Bagh is one of the oldest Mughal gardens in Kashmir. Built by the Mughal emperor Jahangir for his queen Nur Jehan, its main attractions are a row of fountains and 400-year-old chinar trees that lead up to a pavillion with Mughal decoration. The ‘abode of the fairies’ or the Pari Mahal Pari Mahal is a 17th-century former Sufi center. It was built by Dara Shukoh, the eldest son of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It has gorgeous terraced lawns and arched niches. The small Cheshmashahi Garden lies en route to Pari Mahal and it is my favorite Mughal garden. Set amidst the wooded mountain foothills, its central feature is a square fountain pool fed by a water chute from the so-called ‘Royal Springs’ on the garden’s upper half. Cheshmashahi has a wonderfully intimate feel to it and the landscaping is more natural than manicured. Nishat Bagh is arguably the most popular Mughal garden of Kashmir. It is very appealing with beautiful water features that frame a lovely lake panorama. Although not a Mughal garden, Badamveer is one of the loveliest places in Kashmir in spring. It was laid down in the 16th century and then planted with almond (badam) trees in 1876. However, the militancy era saw this quiet orchard fall in disuse and recent restoration words have brought it back to its erstwhile glory. The main attractions of Badamveer are the white spring blossoms.

Zabarwan Range is visible as a backdrop to the srinagar tulip festival

almond trees bloom in badamwari

#Srinagar #Dallake #Kashmirtourism

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