“Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.” Thus said a Persian poet. I always wondered, how can a place be so beautiful that the poet compared it to the heavens? I realized that when I travelled to Srinagar.
Going to Srinagar was the first day of our Photo-tour to Kashmir and Ladakh.
We reached there in the afternoon. The cab from the airport dropped us beside the lake and off we set out to the other side where our house boats were floating.
There is a long row of boats beside the road and very houseboat has a designated boat for itself.
Its not a bad idea to take a cat-nap when its not so busy.
I found it very interesting to see lots of floating shops. There was a floating ice-cream parlour as well. By the time you reach your houseboat, you are likely to be approached by several sellers with products ranging from jewellery, saffron, leather bags. You will also find some photographers who will take the perfect – ‘Ye Chand Sa Roshan Chehra’ shot of yours like in the blockbuster – ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’
After about 20 minutes, we finally reached our houseboat – Morning Star. The first thing that caught my attention was the intricate wooden carvinng.
We sipped cups of Kahwah, which is a traditional green tea made with saffron strands, cinnamon bark, cardamom, crushed nuts, usually almonds or walnuts. This is a popular drink in the whole of Kashmir valley.
Then, we went to the old city to see some places which I will cover in a separate post.
The evening was lovely watching the moon.
Most of the houseboats have a extension in front of the houseboats where you can sit and talk and enjoy the beauty of the lake.
The dinner was cooked with local grown vegetables and was a delight for the tongue. The whole ambiance added to the experience.
After dinner, it was shopping time! There are lots of Kashmiri shawl sellers who will approach and impress you with their products. This person was waiting for us patiently as we were having our dinner. They have all variety of shawls suiting all budgets. By the way, this was the living room of our boat.
Shailaja and Madhavi busy selecting a few for themselves and for their families.
The wood carving on the boats were amazing.
We were tired and went to bed. The next day would start really early for us. We had to visit the morning floating vegetable market.
I got up at 4am and got ready. I was dying to go out and take a picture. It was absolutely breathtaking. This view is at 445am, it was quite dark but choosing the right setting in the camera helped me capture this.
EXIF – 25s f/2.8 ISO 100
The boat which was supposed to take us arrived and we left for the market. It takes about half an hour to reach there.
It was truly one of the most beautiful boat rides I have ever been to. Initially, we passed by a lot of tourist boats and then we were able to see many local residence. The lake was much larger than my imagination.
There were some small bridges to cross the lake at a few places.
These ducks were like racing with us and winning every time.
The lake water was still and were were able to see some beautiful reflection in water.
We reached the market at about 530am. It was a bit late. The activities were on at full swing.
Actually, its a local wholesale vegetable market where the farmers sell their produce to the vendors. Since, it is becoming popular place for the tourists, you will find many sellers to cater to the tourist’s demands. Many sell saffron, cookies, jewelries, gems, etc.
Its a place bustling with activities, you will see the friendly haggling between the buyers and the sellers.
This tourist was enjoying his morning clicking away…
There were a few boats selling beautiful flowers.
While this man was trying to reach out to someone on a mobile phone…
… this one preferred to listen without one.
One thing I noticed is that the interaction between the people was not aggressive but friendly. Everyone had smiles on their faces and its not just about selling, its about catching up with close friends.
On the other side, the landscape was equally enchanting.
It was time for the young lads to take an adventurous bath. It was fun watching them.
This is how they do a round-table conference at the end of the marketing session.
Its time for everyone to disperse and get back home. The sun just started to rise and looked heavenly.
It was time to get back to our houseboat and start our journey to Ladakh through some high mountain passes. Though I was very excited to go to Ladakh again, I wish, I could spend more time in Srinagar.
I will be back on the other places we saw in Srinagar soon.
Thanks to you all for spending your time on my blog. You might like to read my previous posts.
This article is written by Saurabh Chatterjee. He is a travel photographer and a photography trainer. He strives to ‘make every camera-owner a great photographer through his Photography workshops and Photo Tours and Photowalks.