by Amar Satam
In the first week of January 2017, I along with my friends from Mumbai flew to Delhi where form we boarded a bus to Kashmir. The journey was blissfully wonderful. We got to see God’s natural wonders and the warmth of locals in this irresistibly beautifully land.
The beautiful landscape and hospitality of the people made us feel warm in the shivering chill of the winter month in Valley.
We had come to Kashmir to see snowfall which to our luck fell during our few days stay in this picturesque land.
On the first day, we moved to Dal Lake and also stayed in a hotel nearby. The Shikaras and the houseboats moored opposite each other on boulevard captivated our attention. Though, we did not have any plans to stay in houseboat, but we made it a point to have lunch inside this marvelous kingly place which has been crafted beautifully. It is like a wooden palace on water. Every piece of the houseboat is a marvel chiseled with intricate art work by the local artisans.
We asked for locally-made food and in no time the owner of the houseboat served us with Gushtaba. Gustaba (minced meat ball in a yogurt), is one of the best dishes of the Kashmiri cuisine – Wazwaan. On a cold day, Gustaba immersed in hot white gravy was lip-smacking.
I will suggest every visitor (non-veg) not to miss out on Wazwaan.
As it was snowing, all the tourists staying in Srinagar were heading towards Gulmarg. We also set out for Gulmarg – the place synonymous with snow.
Tangmarg, about 13 km ahead of Gulmarg, is a must stop place for sipping a Kashmiri Kehwa (traditional green tea).
From here, starts a breathtaking 30-minute drive to Gulmarg as the road carved out from the mountain range is surrounded by lofty pine trees covered with flakes of snow. This drive is an out of the world experience. It was a real paradise which we had only imagined in movies.
Everything was heart-warming, but for few sledge owners who forced us to take sledge rides. We were playing in Gulmarg as if we were kids. It was a childhood fun in the snow bowl. Gondola ride was also a memorable experience.
Gulmarg is a must visit place for everyone at least in winters. It really brings a child in you and you start playing with snow and fellows.
While returning from Gulmarg, my Kashmiri friend was very helpful and offered to a night stay at his home.
We again got to have a local food which we never will forget. We had heard of Kashmiris’ hospitality, which we got to see when we stayed at my friend’s home in Tangmarg.
I wish one should never miss out on visiting Gulmarg in winter.
(Amar Satam is a fashion designer from Mumbia who has visited along with his friends to Kashmir)