I found Chandigarh an exceptionally beautiful and well planned place. Now we were looking forward to our next destination and that was Srinagar. We got a bit confused as to how we should undertake the journey, by road or by air. We finally decided that it will be best for us to take a direct flight from Chandigarh to Srinagar.
After a wonderful sleep we got up fresh in the morning and were all ready to leave our friend’s house right on time. We had a fantastic start of our journey – the front wheel of the car got flat! Yes, the moment we all settled inside the car and were saying our goodbyes to the family, the driver discovered a flat tyre. We got delayed by half an hour to reach the airport, but managed to check in on time.
Our flight for Srinagar was via New Delhi. It took us nearly three and half hours to reach Srinagar. The skyline was clear and I could see the big Himalayan ranges. The moment our plane crossed the massive Pir Panjal range I had the very first glimpse of the valley. Needless to say it was breathtakingly beautiful!
Most of the people travelling were tourists and there was lot of excitement in the air. A young and handsome Kashmiri boy was waiting for us in the airport arrival lounge. Within minutes all our luggage was packed in the boot of the car and we were whisked from the airport to the hotel. We had planned to stay in a hotel near the Dal Lake (the famous lake of Srinagar). Two nights we had booked for a boathouse stay.
The hotel was exactly, how it looked in the brochure. It was exceedingly peaceful with spacious rooms and huge gardens. The beds were very comfortable with clean soft Egyptian cotton fitted sheets. After freshening up, we were served tea and coffee in the room itself.
So finally we were here. Those who don’t know anything about this place, I would like to give a quick summery. Srinagar is situated in the Kashmir Valley and attracts large number of travelers from all over. This magnificent city lies on the banks of the Jhelum River which is a tributary of the Indus River. The city is well-known for its stunning gardens, lakes and houseboats.
We had plans to visit nearby places like Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Phelgam as well. In my next write up we shall catch up with our visit to the mugal gardens and the famous dal lake.
We got back quite late last night after our trip to Mount Abu so we didn’t leave our beds till 10 in the morning. As we had no plans of going out of the city today we were doing things at a leisurely pace. After getting ready we had brunch and went out with a mission to stroll in the market and any place that could interest us. Today being our last day in the city I just wanted to drink in the majestic beauty of the place.
There is one thing I would like to comment. Some things go in contrast here. If there are beautiful palaces there is lot of garbage in the streets as well. If there is exotic mouthwatering food in the eating joints there are beggars in the streets as well. You cannot ignore women washing clothes in the extended corners of the lake. I think I have come to terms with this country. Taking the good with the bad…that makes sense. Despite all the negativities the place has so much to offer.
We spent quite a lot of time roaming in the market. Though the staff at the hotel suggested us to go for shopping in the evening as at the advent of dusk the streets of Udaipur become vibrant with local and tourists and the place has more zing but we decided to get it done with in the afternoon itself as we had plans for visiting Fateh Sagar Lake in the evening. There were all kinds of shops ranging from small shops to big showrooms to roadside stalls with extensive variety on display. Tourists generally end up buying from the assortment of items such as handicrafts, pottery, jewelry, wooden toys, puppets, antique items and paintings. I personally could not resist those colourful skirts and purchased two for myself. For my mother I purchased the ethnic jewelry pieces. Phew! The visit to this part of the world has made life so colourful.
By the time it was sunset we were at Fateh Sagar Lake. We had a leisurely walk around the lake and then we went into the garden amidst the lake. From there it was a great experience to watch the sun set over the water. There were scores of birds making their way back to the nests…some flapping their wings in the water, making loud chirping sounds as if nothing could be of more importance than the endless discussions they were having. We were told that during winters many migratory birds also grace this place with their visit.
Udaipur is also known as the ‘white city’ because of the five huge interconnected lakes, many white marbled palaces, marbled temples…all these things adds to the romance of the place. I think I understand now why people make beeline to this place for getting married. There is a romance in the air!
I would definitely love to visit this place again sometime in future. Had great fun here! Alright guys, from here we leave for Jaipur tomorrow to enjoy some more of Rajasthan’s flavour!!
We had a very early start the next day for Mount Abu. It is a popular hill station in the Aravalli range of Rajasthan. The place is home to rivers, lakes, waterfalls and evergreen forests. We were to go to the famous Dilwara temple first, but were told that the temple doesn’t open till 12 in the afternoon so we made our way to the Peace Park first. This park is made for recreation as well as meditation by the famous sect of Brahma Kumaris. I had some idea about Brahma Kumaris as back home I had once visited their center where they teach the art of meditation and have religious discourse. The Peace Park was both lovely and serene. In the park there were level playing fields, picnic areas, swings and nature walks. Nestled between two peaks it offers perfect recreational environment.
The Brahma Kumaris clad in stark white sarees and with calm, happy and glowing faces were a peaceful site in itself. They gave us few meditation tips and with them we practiced it for 15 to 20 minutes. It was an exhilarating experience. Those fifteen minutes had a very calming effect on the system. ‘Om Shanti’! This is how they greet everyone.
We had our breakfast there and then headed for the Dilwara jain Temple. From the outside the temple looked fairly basic but the moment we stepped inside we were amazed by its extraordinary architecture and marble stone carvings. We were not allowed to take the pictures inside the temple but what a wonderful job the craftsman had done! The minutely carved ceilings and pillars are just amazing. The temple is surrounded by lush green hills which add to its charm. Our guide told us that at the time when this temple was constructed there were no roads and the huge marble stones were transported on elephant’s back from another hill to this remote region at 1200 meters height. Really the statues and the sculpture of the temple are out of the world. Hats off to all those who designed this temple. There were five major sections of the temple devoted to five saints.
It was a fantastic experience. Then our guide took us to a lake which according to the old mythology was dug out of nails by Gods. The name Nakki Lake is originated from this mythology; nakh meaning nails. The place was quite scenic. We had a shikara (kind of a boat) ride in the lake which was quite fun filled and relaxing. There were many vendors around the lake. We purchased some local fruits and the little boy selling fruits washed them for us to eat, that was really sweet of him. Just near the hill there is a place called toad rock it is so called because it looks like a toad about to jump the lake. We went there using the steps leading down to Nakki lake. Just next to the lake there was a path that leads to Sunset Point, but that part is bit tribal and with forests all around we were advised to go there before it gets dark as that area was dangerous because of the bandits living around. We thought it better to let it go as we did not wanted to get into trouble and our guide was also a bit reluctant to go there.
All in all it was a good place, worth visiting and we went back to Udaipur with many happy memories in store.