All my life I have had this notion that I was born a ‘Beach baby’, until the events of January 2021. I was embarking on my first trip with my family after the lockdown, and my maiden trip to the majestic snow-capped mountains.
Filled with euphoria, I frantically packed all the warm clothes I could get my hands on. Leaving no stone unturned, I made a happy purchase of a pair of snow boots. I felt ready, I felt prepared for all the adventures I was converging towards. But, my heart felt hysterical. Will I feel welcomed? Will the experience be like the one my mind had fantasised? Winded in speculations, the departure day had arrived. I was ready for some new epiphanies that were in store for me. Our destination was two flights away.
Sitting by the window, batting my sleepy eyelids, I witnessed the view of a lifetime.
Amidst the blurry clouds rose the magnificent Himalayas! And in no time, we were in paradise, we were in Kashmir! Walking out of the airport at Srinagar felt like walking the red-carpet, except it was all white. All the four days in Kashmir, the snow made sure not to leave our side for even a moment.
Everyday was a new adventure! A new experience! A new encounter! It’s a story worth telling.
Ever stayed at a place that looked exactly like the photos you saw of it online? Because I did! We dug to the very grassroot of Srinagar. Our stay was a 70-odd-years old Houseboat on the Nigel lake. Considering the temperature in January, most parts of the lake were frozen. The Houseboat spoke aesthetically with gorgeous tapestries, carpets and rugs.
Akbar Houseboat was a home away from home!
With Srinagar as our base, we took a day-trip to Pahalgam. As the saying goes, sometimes the road is more beautiful than the destination. On our way to Pahalgam we witnessed snow-hidden saffron fields in Pulwama and Lidder river fearlessly flowing through the mountains. The view was enthralling.
Our only retort to explore Pahalgam was on horseback. Putting our adventure caps on, we galloped our way through a bumpy path leading up to the mountain. The horses lead us to a captivating location called the ‘Mini Switzerland’. I finally put my snow boots to action. Emotions taken over by snow, I enthusiastically jumped all over the place. I brought my imaginations to reality. I indulged in some fun-filled snow ball fight with my sister. And my most favourite part, WAIT FOR IT, I made a snow fairy! With no hesitation at heart, I laid on the snow and flapped my hands and legs like a little fairy! I could not be happier.
Just when I thought I had already lived the best day of my life, the coming days spoke otherwise. We set out to our final station in Kashmir. We had a stopover at an apple farm.
All that was left of the farm were the branchers of trees leaning on the snow. It was a heavenly sight.
Going up a spiral road, with mountains on one side and a valley on the other, our last pit-stop in Kashmir was no less than a Winter Wonderland out of a Disney creation. I was Elsa from the movie Frozen singing ‘the cold didn’t bother me anyway’. Gulmarg was screaming beautiful, gloriously standing in the planet of snow. We accommodated ourselves in a pretty hotel that called itself Hotel Fluorescence. It was like a red castle surrounded by glittering white snow. Everywhere we looked it felt straight out of a dream!
We ticked lots of firsts in Gulmarg too. Staying in a hotel overlooking snow was one of them. We rode in the Gulmarg Gondola, one of the highest cable cars in Asia. It took us to a place that had ‘Jannat’ (paradise) written all over it! We had our very first snowman competition, which my sister won by fluke. We had a crazy snow-ball fight, in which I got beaten up really bad though.
Everyone turned on me like a long due revenge. To perfectly conclude our dreamy day, we had some ‘mandatory’ mountain maggi and lemon tea.
Life felt good, until we had to return home, leave Kashmir behind us.
Kashmir is one such place that has something to offer in every season. Hands down, Kashmir in winters would always remain precious to me. With all my heart, I can finally call myself a ‘Mountain Baby’ too. A tiny part of me will always travel back in time to cherish the snow and the mountains. It speaks for both of us as it says “When I’m in Kashmir, Heaven can wait!”
To find out more about our Kashmir trip, click here.