Kashmir Travel & Tourism
Kashmir, it has been often said for centuries, is an indefinable beauty. Noted travelers and historians felt it is Nature’s blessing to the universe but failed to describe it appropriately as for them words proved inadequate to define beauties of this precious land, its mountains and valleys. Yet, for ages human endeavor has invested efforts to interact with Kashmir’s beauty, explore it and describe and highlight it to the outside world. Almost all explorers with their rich experience and knowledge could not mention any place or spot in the world that was comparable with this beautiful land which according to many historians and geologists was a ‘bottom-land’ in prehistoric times.
Kashmir has been often described as the Switzerland of Asia. However, in actual terms the main valleys of Switzerland are like the sideways of Kashmir. Talking of purple hills, dancing seas and clear blue sky of Greece, Young-husband, who had seen both countries, comments “Kashmir has the same blue sky and brilliant sunshine, but its purple hills are on a far grander scale, and if it has no sea, it has lakes and rivers, and still more impressive snowy mountains.
It has, too, greater variety of natural scenery, of field and forest, of rugged mountains and open valleys.” To the Mughuls Kashmir was known as “the terrestrial paradise.” Noted travelers and writers which include G.T.Vigne ( in a publication released in London in 1842) regard Kashmir as one of the most blessed spots upon the earth.
Undoubtedly, Kashmir is the world’s most fascinating experience offering variety in climate and landscape. The valley is surrounded by high peaks, diverse terrains and lush green forests all around standing as a chain with no parallel in the world and these lap glaciers, pastures and high altitude lakes offering amazing trekking opportunities and far behind these formations the ice clad summits provide a splendid view. Each spot in the valley plains or up on the highlands excels the other and every small elevation unfolds a new natural set-up bringing altogether new phase of climate and atmosphere. The Valley is quite different in each season. It is like a garden in summer and golden in autumn. Winter makes Kashmir yet another world. It is a romantic experience to travel to Kashmir in spring when snow over the slopes of Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg still appears fresh while flowers appear in abundance in the Valley plains. Certainly, it is an all season affair in Kashmir.
It is not as cold in Kashmir as might be expected at such an altitude, the reason being that the chain of mountains all around save the valley from the cold blasts of the north and also the scorching winds from the south. Nature has put the shield of mountains also to save Kashmir from the monsoon miseries. There are no hurricanes in Kashmir. A strong wind that may cause some disturbance in the atmosphere soon turns into a gentle breeze. The lakes, rivers, streams and springs of Kashmir have caught attention of nature lovers for centuries. Similarly, trekkers have incredible experience of the beauty of its high altitude lakes, each altitude unfolding yet another terrain of mountains for the adventurer. They always felt that the cleavage between two mountains in Kashmir is un-paralleled, with bottom lines of each mountain serving as wide concourse. The confluence of different cultures has been at its best, when nomads of Kashmir with their unique culture have attracted full attention of trekkers from different countries on the high mountain ranges. The trekkers all over the world often share their experiences in Kashmir throughout their life time, as it is said the climbing friendship lasts long. They feel entertained and inspired while recounting their memorable times that they have spent in Kashmir, even after decades.
Different writers have described Kashmir differently in their best possible way. Yet most of them felt it was beyond description in the most appropriate terms and distinguished travelers and writers have admitted in-adequacy of words to define beauties of Kashmir. I have myself spent thirty-six precious years of my life, traversing all areas in and around Kashmir during my long official travel requirements (traveling was my job indeed). Much beyond the nature of my duty I always looked around, chased, but failed to catch words ( to define beauties of Kashmir) in my long journey and intimate gaze of each dimension of this superb land. Thus, while we still feel bankrupt in tracing words to define this land, for me it was quite amazing to learn how the greatest saint of Kashmir, Sheikh Nur-ud-Din Reshi has commented on the beauty of Kashmir in the following linguistics, more than 600 years ago:
“Every minute that I
(at one of his usual and favourite look-out)
will be deducted from my stay in heaven”
This imponderable judgment on the
description of the beauty of Kashmir, by the saint of
saints, sounds alarmingly natural. It seems perfectly
amenable and sound and with this finding (during my
study on Sheikh-ul-Alam) ended my journey of discovery
of the most exciting definition on the beauty of
Kashmir. It appears a super-natural definition that does
not require any comment or explanation.
Hospitality of Kashmir has been another matter of great interest among the travelers, which is indeed Kashmir’s precious holding even today. They have always been hospitable and forthcoming. Their specific art or act of welcoming or greeting visitors has been polite and friendly. The very first interaction between a native and a visitor has been always monumentally pleasant and impressive. Their way of wishing a guest with usual ‘Salam-sahib’ has been known much earlier in the Western countries than the ‘Sayonara’—the Japanese goodbye. Of Kashmiris it is said, “when asked for assistance, they leave their occupation to guide you to their best honesty.” Thus, much investigative is the description of Pandit Brij Narayan Chakbast Lakhnawi, who says, “How exceedingly hospitable is the land of Kashmir. Even the wayside stones offered me water to drink.”
To quote him exactly:
“Zarra Zarra hai mere Kashmir ka mehman nawaz
Rah mein pather ke tukdun ne diya pani mujee”