I am back after the well deserved break. Enjoyed my holiday in the pristine state of Kashmir. Today I share my experience of rejuvenation and the famous drink that is served there.
I read an interesting line “I am in Kashmir, Heaven can wait”. True to these words the place is beautiful and the immaculate beauty is surely welcoming. One can just sit and watch the place for hours together without getting bored, the serenity makes you believe that one is in paradise.
Our journey started with some hiccups as our aircraft had a problem so were grounded in Jammu for a day, so utilized that and visited the famous Raghunath Mandir and stayed there overnight. The next day we were off to Srinagar, the summer capital of J&K. We enjoyed the view of snow capped mountains during our 35min fly from Jammu-Srinagar. The International airport is beautiful and is under high security. Once you enter the city one can see the army people posted at regular intervals, that’s a common scene through out the state.
The first two days we stayed in a house boat in Dal lake and enjoyed the new experience, felt like living in Venice. The houseboat is made with the deodar tree and the interiors done with walnut tree. There are about 1290 houseboats in Dal lake. The Boulevard road which runs along the lake has a huge number of shops and restaurants. One can do a Shikara ride in the lake and enjoy the floating market, garden as well as water sports.
One can stay in Srinagar and travel to Sonmarg and Gulmarg. Gulmarg has the highest Gandola ride in the world and is called the meadow of flowers. There are two levels of the Gandola, Section I is from Gulmarg to Kongdori and then section II from Kongdori to Apherwat which is about 13,780 ft high. The first section carries about 1500 people/hour and the second section 600 people/hour.
Sonmarg did not have much snow this time and one can trek for about 6kms to reach the glacier.
Pahalgam, the land of shepherds is breathtakingly beautiful, we stayed there for 2 days. I would love to visit this place again and stay for more time. It is the base for The holy Amarnath yatra, and the place was getting ready for it. The lidder river flows through the valley and is the attraction of this place. One can do river rafting and enjoy the scenic beauty here.
On our way to Pahalgam we stopped at Pampore a small village famous for it’s saffron fields. I came to know that the saffron is grown only at three places in the world Kashmir, Iran and Spain. Three thousand flowers add up to yield a gram of saffron, undoubtedly it is very expensive but that did not stop me from buying it.
I also shopped for spices and dry fruits which are of high quality. The shahjeera and cloves that I purchased had an excellent aroma which is completely lacking here in the plains. The other things that one can shop here are clothes made with aari work and needle work, one can buy salwar suit, saree, shawl, stole, bed cover and many more items. Wooden furniture and artifacts made with walnut are very popular here. One should not miss buying paper machee work but if you are ready to spend money do indulge in the carpets, they are beautiful and extremely expensive but will last for generations together if properly handled (the antique carpets are sold at higher price). I did buy a one made with silk on silk wearing a Hamadaan design and still can’t believe I shelled out an exorbitant price for that!!!!
A few things that I bought..
Coming to Kahwa, it’s a traditional drink made with green tea, spices and saffron. It is served with dry fruits, sugar and honey.Traditionally made in a brass kettle called samovar. It is served to the guests after a traditional wazwan dinner but we were offered that everywhere and we accepted it gladly especially S who is in love with the drink…
1 heaped tsp green tea
about 9 cups of water
8-10 saffron strands
1 stick of cinnamon powdered
7-8 green cardamom powdered
almonds blanched, peeled and slivered into flakes
7-8 cashewnuts crushed
sugar as per taste ( I used about 10 tsp)
Take a tea pan and bring water to a boil. Add the sugar, put the powdered cinnamon and cardamom and saffron. Finally add the green tea, switch off the gas immediately and cover it with a lid for few minutes, take precaution not to over boil the green tea else the kahwa turns bitter .
Divide the almonds and cashewnuts equally in 8 cups and then strain the tea into it.
Serve steaming hot, it is an excellent drink for winters or a cold day.