“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
– Lao Tzu
I woke up on the Zojilla pass. The heart on mouth situation was even worse now with narrow roads and deeper gorges. There is space for a sumo/scorpio, but hardly for a bus to move on. Adding to the narrow roads was the fact that there were quite a lot of lugguage on the top which made the bus oscillate as it went over potholes. I was so relieved when we somehow got down the pass. I swore that I will never in my life take this route on a bus. If there is a second time, it has to be by an SUV or flight. As we got down the Zojilla pass, we were now on the kind of places whose photos we see on a calender. It was Sonamarg. It had beautiful pine trees on the mountain side and a river flowing through the centre. The river was Sindh and the road goes parallel to the river almost throughout from here on. I had heard in Ladakh itself that the home minister was to visit the state today and I expected a shutdown here. So there were no fixed plans for the day. But still I decided to take this route so that I will atleast be able to see Kashmir, which I wanted to see for quite some time now. So I started making backup plans in case it was a shutdown in the valley. Then, I could see trucks coming from Srinagar which was a good sign of normalcy. There were vehicles of the military, police, administration, running on this route. I also saw some shops opening up, which again was a positive signal. We soon entered Srinagar. I could see the beautiful Dal lake. It looked quite normal in the city with roads and streets full of people and traffic and the shops were open.
I got down and since the valley had seen a complete shutdown just until a couple of days back, the houseboats were being given at throw away prices. I managed to get one for 500rs. Though I was not planning for a houseboat accomodation, I decided to have the experience as well. It was a very comfortable houseboat double bed room. Getting this for 500rs was a real loot.
I got fresh and moved out. The city looked almost like one that was just taken over by force. There were so many bunkers around the city. Apart from that, there were security personal all around. The city was quite big and so was the Dal lake. There were lots of houseboats and Shikaras on it. I had a look around and also went to the Mughal Gardens. It was a beautiful garden and I took lots of photos here. I also went around the market and walked quite a lot through the city. Later, I came back to my houseboat and took rest.
Overall, to be frank, I was disappointed. It maybe because I over expected. Or maybe because I have seen so many beautiful places in India or maybe because it is not a place to come alone. But I will say that it is surely a wonderful place to be. But I wouldn’t suggest you to come here after visiting the places that I have been. Do the reverse instead. There is a bit of Ladakh in terms of the terrain, there is a bit of Nainital in terms of the lake, there is a bit of Manali in terms of the snow capped mountains, there is a bit of Darjeeling in terms of the greenery. And maybe that is why it is called the heaven on earth. But… Don’t come here after visiting the places I mentioned above. It won’t be worth the risk you take.
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